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From the 18th of July 2019, Australian Instagram users like myself stopped being able to see likes on posts.  Of course, it is still possible for the owner of the post to see the number of likes by clicking on the ‘insights’ section but to other users this information is private.

For a platform based on vanity, where the little red heart of the ‘like’ is basically a form of currency in the career goals of influencers, this move seems a little confusing.  Instagram claims that this move has the intended goal of taking the ‘pressure’ off users and reducing anxiety amongst it’s more than one billion active users, most of whom are young people and Millenials.

At this stage, it is still a test but a number of other countries are also in on the hidden likes with Instagram intending for this to move worldwide eventually (although no discussion on hiding follower counts as yet).

What does this mean for your business?

I’m gonna get a little deep here…

Likes have been the easiest way for businesses to see what is working and connecting with the audience and what isn’t at a glance.  We are all more likely to click that red heart on a post with hundreds of visible likes-if they like it so should I right?  

But removing the visible likes means that businesses will have to look closer to see what is really resonating as those with ‘click-happy’ followings vs those with a deeper connection with their audience will obviously have wildly different like counts now.  Since the test started I have noticed about a 40% decrease in the number of likes each post on my business page gets, however, I am seeing increased reach and increased saves and profile visits from each post.  I have started to look closer at these important metrics when analyzing my posts rather than focussing mostly on the likes.

Back in 2016, a change saw your feed move from chronological to assessed by the algorithm.  Because the algorithm gives preference to posts from accounts whose posts you have previously liked, there was a move towards users being more selective in their liking.  I personally think that by removing visible likes we will see even more of a shift towards selective liking.  This could be both good and bad.  Those fewer likes you do get probably mean more than they used to, but only time will tell if this shift will have a negative impact on engagement and reach.

And now some top tips on how to get the most out of insta.

The key to Instagram success is understanding how the algorithm that chooses who your post will be shown to, works.  Instagram is changing this all the time and it is supposed that very few except the platform actually ‘know’ how it works, although many have a good idea.

In 2018 though, Instagram shared some factors that influence the position of your post in someone’s feed:

  • Relationship with the User
  • Recency of a Post
  • Interest the user has previously shown in other posts

To cash in on those followers that have liked your page and are liking your posts it is super important to engage with those users.  User-generated content, engagement building posts (like ones that encourage you to tag a friend, comment below etc) and of course any opportunity to start a conversation with a follower are all great ways to increase engagement and ensure your posts feature highly on their feed in the future.

Posting at times when your followers are online is crucial if you’re looking to reach the top of their feed.  Heading over to the Insights page will help you to find optimal times and don’t be afraid to experiment either!  I accidentally posted at 5am one morning instead of 5pm (thanks heaps Hootsuite!) and had great engagement from followers in other time zones who probably don’t usually see my posts.

Comment on other user’s posts, especially others in your industry or area and create relationships there-you’ll usually find they go both ways.  And of course reply to your comments asap for optimal influence on your reach.

Lastly, consider joining a pod.  A pod is a group of likeminded pages usually connected through a group chat.  The deal is that if you post something you’d go over to your group chat and let the others know, they’ll then go to the post, like and comment (usually more than 4 words), as soon as they can.  Time is key here, and the more reactive other pod members can be the more effect the pod will have.  The algorithm will then see your post as popular through the quick likes and activity boosting it’s reach further to other users.  And yes, there is an MBP Pod for reach out to @mobilebevpros if you want to join! 😉

So Instagram’s hidden likes, complex?  A little. 

Worth it?  Totally.