Recently, Facebook announced it’s considering following Instagram’s lead to hide likes from other users. In April this year, Instagram started testing this in Canada and expanded this test to Australia, New Zealand, Japan Ireland and Italy in July. Users can see the like counts of their own posts but when they look at others, all they will see is a few mutual friends who liked that post. No numerical likes are featured. The social network stated that they want users to concentrate on posts, not becoming insatiable like addicts.
Countless studies in the media conclude that social media heightens dissatisfaction for many people. It negatively contributes to a wealth of mental health issues that were rarer in the more innocent days before Facebook and Instagram. Young people are affected the most, setting them on course for a bleak future. Surely a population’s well-being should be top priority in any society. People should post what they want, not what they think other people (often strangers living thousands of miles away) want to see.
Understandably, the most vocal opponents to this change are businesses and influencers. There is an argument that when someone sees a post with a vertigo-inducing high number of likes, they also feel compelled to like it because it’s fashionable, despite not connecting strongly to it.
In the digital world, nothing stays the same and businesses should see hiding like counts as an opportunity. Companies will still see how many likes their own posts receive, so they can see which posts perform best. This also means influencers will continue to get sponsors as they can show partners their own like counts. Additionally, follow counts will remain unaffected so influencers can still show off their popularity.
They may be fewer likes but the interactions will be more authentic and from people more likely to value your brand. This is worth more than countless likes on your post because it’s supposed to be cool. It will also encourage creativity; companies are less likely to rehash content with sky high like counts. They will have to return to the prehistoric way of imagining their own creative material.
Removing like counts won’t make self-esteem issues vanish but it will go some way to making a difference. If you would rather prioritise a like count over people’s mental health, your company sounds anti-people. And that’s really not good for any business.