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Sep 30 2019

A World Without Likes

This past spring, savvy users of Instagram noticed the social media platform was rolling back the Like feature on some accounts. It was the first glimpse at a possible sea change in the way social media companies might treat metrics like the much-sought-after (and often monetized) Like—in this case by hiding it. Currently, Instagram’s trial program is testing what its platform would look like without Likes in Canada, Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand. And just this week, Facebook joined the social experiment, announcing it, too, was testing in Australia a change in its platforms where people’s Likes and other metrics would become private. Both companies speak of these trials as a possible means to improving users’ experiences by cutting out the pressure of Likes, competition, and validation.

But what does this mean for the companies and influencers that utilize these platforms for sales, promotion, and marketing? As Architectural Digest put it, “Will Instagram’s Plan to Hide Likes Hurt Your Business?” It may not surprise you, but it depends on who you ask. Many users have spoken of a correlation between well-liked posts and an uptick in sales. Others have noted that the quest for more Likes has tamped down on their risk-tasking and creativity. Instagram, for its part, has suggested the new feature should improve engagement: We understand that Like counts are important for many businesses, and while this test is in the exploratory stage, we are thinking through ways for brands and creators to communicate value to their partners.

In the end, whether Instagram and Facebook do ultimately decide to permanently expand their trial to the rest of the globe, a world without Likes is likely nothing to worry too much about for those in the architecture, design, and construction world, where the platforms tend to be used far more as outlets for news and announcements than for sales. In case you’re still leery about this possible change, CNN’s quotation from Joe Gagliese, CEO of Viral Nation, might bring you some comfort: Likes are a very casual form of engagement. A lot of people Like posts without even really looking at them, or tapping the Like button has become automatic.