Blog

/ Social Media Strategy + Insights

Sign that reads "Need More Likes Today"
Do You Like It? Social Platforms to Hide or Remove Likes: Experts Weigh In

In an article at HuffPost Wellness, Brittany Wong details an experiment by Instagram to hide Like’s. The experiment is running with selected users in Canada. The article notes, “It might be bad news for influencers, but experts say it could be good for our wellbeing.”

Twitter is also exploring alternatives to Likes, as part of a larger effort to make its experience more civil. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Facebook, LinkedIn and other social platforms are considering similar moves.

In an article at Content Marketing Institute, Ann Gynn urges readers to stop wanting to be “liked” in the first place. Ann recommends other things we can focus on, including alternative methods for public validation of our content.

Here, Elena Salazar shares her thoughts on Ann’s article:

I reached out to 11 social media experts (including Elena) and asked them three questions about social platforms removing Likes:

  • What do you think about social platforms removing (or hiding) Likes?
  • How would your approach change with Likes removed?
  • What’s more meaningful than Likes?

Here are their responses.

Jennifer Bridges: There are upsides and downsides

Jennifer Bridges

Jennifer Bridges (@JenBridgesRD) is Content Marketing Manager at ReputationDefender.

What do you think about social platforms removing (or hiding) Likes?

There are upsides and downsides to this move.

Upside: removing Likes would reduce some of the pressure on people (especially young people) to compete with popular social media personalities. If users can’t see which posts get the most Likes, then they won’t feel the need to copy those posts. Thus, people might feel freer to express their true selves.

However, to really help people’s mental health, you’d need to get rid of Likes completely. If users continue to see how many Likes their own posts get, then they are likely to continue basing their self worth on the number of Likes their posts earn.

Downside: removing Likes will make it harder for marketing professionals to measure which content is working and which isn’t. Yes, we can still rely on other things like Clicks, Shares, and Comments, but Likes are a valuable engagement metric.

Making Likes invisible will also make it harder for influencers to earn money, as their value is determined by how many Likes their posts get and how many people follow them as a result of those Likes.

As such, advertisers may not be as motivated to work with them.

How would your approach change with Likes removed?

I probably wouldn’t change my approach because I only post things that I think others may find useful or entertaining. The number of Likes something has doesn’t factor into what I decide to share.

What’s more meaningful than Likes?

I’ll fess up and admit to getting an endorphin rush when one of my posts gets a ton of Likes. However, I think comments are much more valuable. So, I’d appreciate more commenting. Likes are merely a prelude to the real goal of social media, which is a conversation.

Mandy Menaker: Likes help surface engaging content

Mandy Menaker

Mandy Menaker (@mandymenaker) is Head of Brand and PR at Shapr.

What do you think about social platforms removing (or hiding) Likes?

As a professional who relies on engaging content to help spread the word about products or events, I think that removing Likes will have a negative impact.

Currently, when someone Likes a photo, tweet or LinkedIn post, their network will also see the post and identify that someone they trust engaged with your content. This helps you to build word-of-mouth and get in front of new, highly relevant professionals.

I am worried that removing Likes will also remove this avenue for finding new customers.

How would your approach change with Likes removed?

If Likes were no longer a way to get seen by a secondary audience, I would post content aimed to encourage comments. This could include content with thought-provoking questions, or a photo that asks you to tag a friend.

What’s more meaningful than Likes?

Sharing a post, tagging a friend or adding a comment that furthers the conversation is always more meaningful than a Like.

MariAnne Vanella: Bad idea

MariAnne Vanella

MariAnne Vanella (@VanellaGroup) is CEO, The Vanella Group, Inc.

What do you think about social platforms removing (or hiding) Likes?

Bad idea.

When LinkedIn removed “reads” from the articles, it drove it into the ground. I have articles with 30K+ reads and no one knows anymore unless a person took the time to like it. It is a mini-act of generosity to like something and most people don’t take the time.

How would your approach change with Likes removed?

I use LinkedIn and Twitter. I think there would be less engagement if there is no longer a way to measure it.

What’s more meaningful than Likes?

I would like a platform to reflect overall engagement vs Likes.

Erika Heald: Less feedback for content creators

Erika Heald

Erika Heald (@SFerika) is a Marketing Consultant.

What do you think about social platforms removing (or hiding) Likes?

I suspect that removing Likes from being visible to those viewing content means people will stop liking content. Which means content creators will lose out on that easy form of feedback regarding whether or not a piece of content has resonated with them.

How would your approach change with Likes removed?

If Likes were actually removed from Twitter (not just made visible only to the person whose content it was) I would still use the platform, but it would be more discouraging to share content there, as people do want an easy way to show that they’ve seen or agree with your content, even if it’s not appropriate as an RT in their own feed.

Without any way to give that support easily, I think we’ll see a lot less engagement overall on the platform.

What’s more meaningful than Likes?

They can comment or reshare. Right now, however, people RT’ing with comments or replying to your posts doesn’t register as engagement with many of the tools that measure engagement and influence.

Elena Salazar: Two thumbs up

Elena Salazar

Elena Salazar (@elenacsalazar) is a Social Media Program Manager at VMware.

What do you think about social platforms removing (or hiding) Likes?

In my opinion, Likes are just a vanity metric and distract from focusing on more valuable KPIs.

People can also get strongly attached to their Likes and feel like they are under-performing if they don’t get the number of Likes they were expecting. Likes do not necessarily correlate with conversions or sales, and can be a false indicator of post success — especially since a lot of Likes are from bots.

How would your approach change with Likes removed?

I believe this shift will encourage marketers to focus more on the end goal of their posts, whether it is an event signup, an asset download, or a web visit.

What’s more meaningful than Likes?

Users can comment on your call to action.

I recently wrote an article on tips for attending a conference, and concluded with a CTA for people to share their own tips.

A comment like that is more interesting than a Like because it can keep the conversation going and help you gain a better understanding of your audience.

Amberly Dressler: Good move, but beware the business impacts

Amberly Dressler

Amberly Dressler (@amberlydressler) is Brand Communications Manager at Episerver.

What do you think about social platforms removing (or hiding) Likes?

I like the spirit of it – lessening the impact Likes have on people’s (particularly young people’s) self-esteem and self-worth – but it will have business impacts.

Most savvy social media managers have become more sophisticated than using vanity metrics, but it could potentially change newsfeed algorithms once again.

If Likes are not used to measure a brand’s engagement, metrics such as shares or comments will likely be used.

It is likely business visibility in the newsfeed could be impacted. From a user perspective, that might not be a bad thing, but businesses will need to tweak their strategies to fit a Like-less world.

How would your approach change with Likes removed?

Without Likes, comments and shares will become critical to being seen.

On Instagram, the latter is done via a third-party repost app so asking engaging questions for comments would be one way to change a brand’s approach to engagement. It’s difficult to mention Instagram without influencers though.

Brands using influencer marketing will need to reconsider how they deem a sponsored post successful, which is a longtime coming in that Likes don’t prove a post’s worth. One strategy all of us should be doing is encouraging user-generated or advocacy-based content as posts from people, not companies, are not only more likely to be seen but also more likely to be Liked (whatever Like appears as in the future).

What’s more meaningful than Likes?

Comments, retweets and shares come to mind but others could create user-generated content for a brand. UGC is way more appealing and authentic for everyone involved.

Lisa Dimyadi: Great idea

Lisa Dimyadi

Lisa Dimyadi (@ldimyadi) is a content marketer at Comm100.

What do you think about social platforms removing (or hiding) Likes?

I think it’s a great idea.

Likes are a complete vanity metric, emphasis on “vanity.” With every post I make on instagram, at least 20% of the Likes I get are from random bot accounts. If you use the right hashtags and can game the algorithm fairly well, you’ll able to boost your Likes by a considerable amount.

Removing Likes will significantly improve the mental state of many users. Gone are the days where we compare ourselves to one another and anguish over the lackluster number of Likes obtained on a post that we worked so hard on.

How would your approach change with Likes removed?

I’m a Twitter power user and I don’t think that it would actually change that much. I use the Like button to save tweets that I think are interesting or as acknowledgement. If I truly like something, I’ll reply to the person, comment, or retweet it.

What’s more meaningful than Likes?

Retweeting!

I love Twitter’s retweeting model because I think sharing is so much more meaningful. Sharing allows you to help spread content and boost reach for the content creator, while Likes has become less meaningful.

This is further evidenced by Facebook’s algorithm change a few years back. Previously if you liked a post on Facebook, it would appear on other’s feed with the headline “[Your friend’s name] liked this post.”

This is no longer part of their engagement engine and you’ll rarely find these types of recommendations, if at all.If even social giants are discrediting Likes as part of their algorithm, you know that it’s not a symbol of ‘meaningful’ engagement.

Instagram is the only platform where you can’t share things and I find that annoying. If I want to share a post to two or three people I have to DM them separately and that discourages me from sharing content.

There’s no way to help others increase reach by sharing content on Instagram and I think that should be the next step.

Masooma Memon: A negative move for marketers

Masooma Memon

Masooma Memon (@inkandcopy) is a freelance content writer.

What do you think about social platforms removing (or hiding) Likes?

I think there are odds this change may not work tremendously in favor of marketers.

That’s because the target audience would fail to learn of a brand’s authenticity at a glance and the hype around it. You see, Likes are a quick indication that something is trending and people love joining the majority bandwagon. They won’t be able to do so without knowing the Likes on a post.

Moreover, Likes are social proof. These are the first trigger that interests users who then visit your profile and get to know you more.

How would your approach change with Likes removed?

I use Twitter frequently and I believe its primary goal is to encourage engagement, all thanks to the limited character count.

So removal of Likes won’t bring much change for me because I use it mainly to participate in Twitter chats (which rely on comments, not Likes) and actually engage (for instance, by commenting or retweeting with my take on something) rather than throwing a like and bidding farewell.

What’s more meaningful than Likes?

Comments.

A like tells me you agree with the post or are silently saying “me too.” There are chances you’ve liked my post because others from your list are liking it. However, a comment tells me you’ve actually read my content and are interested in discussing it.

Lori Anding: I’ve never focused on Likes

Lori Anding

Lori Anding (@southbaysome) is SoMe Manager for Hire at Southbay Social Media.

What do you think about social platforms removing (or hiding) Likes?

Human behavior is so interesting which makes this an intriguing question. It feeds our ego to see the Likes. I believe that will drive people to change their posting behavior based on thoughts that may not be true. As for followers, I think it will drive them to just view content without taking any action.

How would your approach change with Likes removed?

As a social media manager, I want to say that Likes are not a metric I follow.

To clarify, it’s not a metric I report to clients and I am always telling clients, “Don’t focus on Likes!” BUT, we are all human, so it’s very hard to disregard those numbers completely. That being said, my focus has never been on Likes; therefore, it should be irrelevant and seamless in my work. We will see.

What’s more meaningful than Likes?

I think the obvious answers are comment, share, and take it offline by direct messaging. Aren’t all of those actions much better than a like anyways? Yes, right?

Likes equate to our time restraints. Although as marketers, we want more than Likes, a like is still an acknowledgement that someone saw your post.

Miiko Mentz: The power of Stories and Direct Messages

Miiko Mentz

Miiko Mentz (@MiikoMentz) is Co-Founder of BentoBox Media.

What do you think about social platforms removing (or hiding) Likes?

From a marketing standpoint, I think it’s fine as long as you can still see your account’s analytics to know which content is performing well and which is not.

However, where it might be difficult, is for influencer marketing, especially for small businesses without big budgets. Most small businesses can’t afford to pay an influencer marketing agency and have to do campaigns on a small scale using micro-influencers.

Many times this is done the old fashion way, by doing your own research and qualifying influencers yourself before reaching out to them. So, if an influencer’s Likes are not publicly available, then it makes it more challenging to gauge what their actual engagement rate is because you’re only seeing part of the equation, which is comments and the number of followers they have.

How would your approach change with Likes removed?

Again, as long as I can still see the number of Likes on the backend, I’m not sure I would change my current approach. If I were to change my approach and wanted to increase comments, then perhaps I would create more posts that encourage comments, such as asking questions or telling followers to tag a friend in the comments.

For example, ‘Tag a friend who would look amazing in this dress?’ or ‘If you love this drink show us by putting hearts in the comments’ and so on (Note from Miiko: “As far as I’ve seen, this still works great on Instagram but not on other platforms.”)

I do some of this now on clients’ accounts, so I may increase it if Likes went away publicly and we wanted more comments. However, I may not because Instagram Stories (“IG Stories”) are great for this type of engagement.

What’s great about IG Stories is it offers much more engagement options than IG feed posts. With IG Stories you can ask questions, run quizzes, polls, etc. and followers love IG Stories.

Lastly, Instagram direct messages are where it’s at. I heavily use direct messages for clients but if I didn’t and I was going to change only one thing, then it would be encouraging people to DM.

Just like creating posts that encourage comments, create IG feed posts that encourage followers to DM you.

I always say, when it comes to IG, the gold is in DMs, or I’ve heard others say “it’s where the magic happens” and I agree. DMs aren’t just for handling customer service questions and issues.

What’s more meaningful than Likes?

Comments are always more meaningful when they’re real comments, which gives you an opportunity to connect and have meaningful conversations with your followers.

Unfortunately, there are lots of bots out there giving fake Likes and comments, so you must make sure you’re also getting real comments from customers and potential customers.

I think users should focus on getting more comments from real people who have a genuine interest in what they’re offering and also focus on driving website traffic.

I think most businesses focus on these two things already. Likes are nice but getting web traffic, bookings, reservations, sales, etc. is why businesses are on Instagram and other social platforms.

Lucille Fisher: Different effects for individuals vs. businesses

Lucille Fisher

Lucille Fisher (@sageandsavvy) is Owner, Sage and Savvy Marketing.

What do you think about social platforms removing (or hiding) Likes?

I can see two sides to this – one as an individual and the other as a social media/online marketer.

As an individual, anything we can do to take pressure off our young people will be helpful, but ultimately we need to teach them the overriding value of real-life interactions over social media. That’s the best elixir for mental health in my opinion.

However, as a social media marketer, I want business pages to continue to display Likes. Why? I want to see how my clients’ competitors are doing with their content. Take the Likes away from individuals but leave business pages alone.

How would your approach change with Likes removed?

With Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn, taking away Likes will force people who really care to make a comment.

That’s good.

But if time is limited, I see myself using the 👍 emoji. It all depends on how much time the user has. Using emojis is a way around Likes, but it still takes a little more effort. I can see encouraging emoji use on clients pages for that reason.

What’s more meaningful than Likes?

Comments are terrific, emojis are nice, shares are the best.

Related Posts
Get Started with B2B Social Media ( 15 Oct 2012 )
Marketing Your Events Using Social Media ( 20 Oct 2012 )
17 Ways to Promote Your Free Trial Using Social Marketing ( 25 Oct 2012 )
7 Reasons Your B2B Social Marketing Sucks (and how to fix it!) ( 1 Dec 2012 )
B2B Marketer Thinking About Facebook? Start Here. ( 9 Dec 2012 )
Written by Dennis Shiao
Dennis Shiao
Dennis is an independent marketing consultant who works with brands on content marketing, product marketing and social media marketing. Dennis curates an email newsletter called Content Corner and publishes marketing-related content on Medium. You can find Dennis on Twitter, @dshiao.

Send this to friend