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November 21, 2019

Will You Survive the Great Instagram Likes Panic of 2019?

Written by Don Scales
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“What’s happening to my Instagram Likes?”

That’s the question I keep hearing every time Instagram is in the news these days. For all the positive impact that Instagram has had, many people and businesses are in a panic over a feature Instagram is testing: the removal of public Likes.

Instagram head Adam Mosseri recently said that in the United States, some users are going to start seeing Likes disappear from their public feeds. The owner of the account can still see their own Likes, but no one else can.

Instagram has been testing the feature internationally and is just now beginning to test the waters in the United States.


Well, Instagram is concerned that its 1-billion strong community is getting too obsessed over Likes, creating needless anxiety, sort of like that infamous episode of “Black Mirror” a few years back where people take social media status to an extreme. Indeed, at least one study has shown that the Like button is one of the most toxic features in social media.

But the threat of removing Likes has caused another anxiety: a fear of losing influence. Some big names in entertainment have gotten pretty upset, including rappers such as Nicki Minaj. These influencers need metrics to boost their social media presence and get paid for posting content by brands.

But other influencers are OK with Likes being hidden. Maybe the biggest influencer of them all, Kim Kardashian West, said that hiding Likes might be beneficial to users’ mental health. Others have noted that Likes are only one metric, and a fleeting one at that.

If you’re a brand that relies on Instagram, I think you’ll be just fine. For one thing, the real action on Instagram is happening on the Stories feature, where engaging with people is more important than collecting Likes. And Likes have always been a limited metric. They say nothing about whether you’re really connecting with anyone. Remember, if knowing how many Likes you are accumulating is important, you can still track that internally But how important is it that the world sees your Like count? I believe it’s more important that brands:

  • Focus on creating compelling content that creates a narrative across social channels such as Instagram.
  • Make your story on social reflect your brand values – the beliefs and actions that your business stands for.
  • Engage with people. Create deep connections through meaningful social media interactions.

Do these things well and you’ll build relationships, not fleeting Likes.

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