How Instagram Removing Likes Could Affect Your Business

A new social media strategy that began overseas is finally making its way to the U.S. this week, as Instagram announced the removal of like counts for some American users. The move signals a fundamental change for the nation’s second most popular social network, one that tackle stores and manufacturers have become increasingly infatuated with in the past several years.

How is Instagram changing?

The change is a simple one. Rather than displaying the total number of likes a post has, Instagram will hide that figure from users on their feeds and profile pages. The move is designed to encourage app users to engage with content across the board, removing a popularity contest aspect to images. However, the redesign’s ramifications could impact the way brands measure engagement with partners and their own pages.

For perspective on those affects, I reached out to content creator Jessica Doll, who’s @hejdoll Instagram account has worked with mainstream brands like Volkswagen, BMW, and Lexus.

“For typical Instagram users the shift will be good,” Doll said. “It might put more focus on the content. For people like me, those numbers are still going to matter whether or not they are made available to the public. It might feel better to not have them publicly displayed, but I’m still going to be responsible for reporting those numbers.”

According to Doll, the way users report numbers won’t be the only immediate change in the way businesses utilize Instagram. The changes will—sooner rather than later—begin to impact recruitment of content creators as well.

“It might be hard for a business to look at someone’s account and see engagement on the front end. That means they have to actually reach out and ask for metrics. They can’t compare likes on a profile anymore. And that might be a good thing, because in many cases businesses should be looking at total reach versus the number of likes, depending on their campaign goals.”

Who will this impact?

Eventually, all of Instagram’s 110 million American users will see these changes rollout. Though it’s worth noting that Instagram itself says the changes will happen on an account-by-account basis for now.

Business owners should know that like counts will still be available to individuals on the backend of their accounts. If a content creator is using a business account (and if you’re about to pay them for a partnership, they should be), they’ll be able to provide you with more in-depth metrics than like counts alone.

The changes also do not affect Instagram stories—a significant chunk of Instagram’s more than $2 billion in ad revenue—as story metrics have only ever been available to users who post them.

The changes also do not affect the way business accounts see their ad results reported. So, while the removal of likes is certainly a newsworthy change, its most immediate impacts will be felt by content creators and companies who will need to work more closely together in order to anticipate results.