Just when you thought you had it sorted, Facebook is poised to make further changes.

We’ve seen Instagram (also owned by Facebook) recently trial hiding the number of likes that a post receives. Instagram users still see a list of who has reacted to a post, but the total number of people who have reacted is no longer showing.  The owner of the account who posted the content still gets to see the full analytics, however. This was rolled out to six countries since Facebook’s announcement in May – and New Zealand was one of those.

It looks like, according to some reports, that Facebook has the same code ‘hidden’ in the wings, ready to roll out the same inhibiting factor on the Facebook channel itself …. at some point, maybe.

Hiding Likes

Why has Instagram hidden likes?

Back in May this year, the head of Instagram said the change is designed to minimize the stress of posting online, where users can fixate on how many likes their videos draw. In his words “We want people to worry a little bit less about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram and spend a bit more time connecting with the people that they care about” as per this Washington Post article.

That could loosely be translated to ‘folk wouldn’t feel so bad if they didn’t get as many likes as their peers’.

What impact has the Instagram trial had so far?

Social Media Influencers have not been so happy about this new ‘invisible popularity’ as they rely on a public display of post-likes and engagement. They shouldn’t be too concerned if their content is authentic and their followers are genuine fans who engage regardless of how many other peers may have liked a particular post.

Instagram still collects the data from interactions, as they have done in the past and this information is still accessible to the owners of the content. So, if they’re doing a great job, they’ll be able to share those analytics with their brands who are paying them.

The trial is new so there are no quantitative reports just yet as to how it has affected engagement — but reports indicate the early signs that likes have reduced, somewhat.

How will this change affect a Business Page on Facebook?

Facebook already makes it hard for Business Pages to reach their existing audience organically. If their hiding-like strategy roles out, and that’s an IF, organic reach will continue to be a challenge for Business Pages.

We will need to watch this space!

UPDATE 28 September 2019!

Ooooo as predicted! Just a few weeks ago I posted how Facebook was poised and ‘at the ready’ to hide Facebook Likes (after the hiding of Instagram Likes trial). And low and behold, Australia is now under trial of exactly that! 

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