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Facebook hiding likes: everything you need to know

Facebook hiding likes: everything you need to know

Facebook hiding likes could be on the horizon following the success of the Instagram like ban trial. Read on for more social media insights.

Facebook hiding likes: everything you need to know

The behaviour of just about everyone on social media - from major brands, celebrities, agencies and influencers to even the youngest social media consumers - can be neatly tied together by one thing: validation.

Instagram recently tried to change all that. In May 2019, (some) Canadians would have opened their Instagram app and noticed that its most addictive feature, likes, was nowhere to be found.

In a move to shift Instagram away from vanity and popularity, and the well-publicised mental health issues associated with social media, likes were publicly hidden on the platform.

The change isn’t earth-shattering. For those taking part in the trial, ‘liked by @Buzzbarco and others’ is the message that now appears beneath an image, rather than the incumbent ‘liked by @Buzzbarco and 250 others’.

Following a successful Instagram ‘like ban’ trial, and an optimistic response in the press, Instagram announced on July 17 that it would be doing the same in six more countries - Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand and Italy, so it’s not surprising that Instagram’s owner Facebook is “considering” following suit.

The whole experiment is still in its early stages - there’s no word yet on plans for the UK or US markets - but, naturally, plenty of people lost their minds when it was first rolled out and the idea of Facebook hiding likes first surfaced. Improving the internet’s collective mental health should be a good thing, right? Sure, but there are a few people who’ll be affected in other ways if the change is implemented fully:

Facebook hiding likes: everything you need to know


Given that likes are essentially the social currency of influencers, it’s not surprising that they’re already starting to get a little nervous about the proposed change. One potential side-effect of the Facebook ‘like ban’ is the uplift in the quality of content - with users less obsessed with likes, the focus for consumers should, in theory, shift towards producing content for the sake of quality, not popularity. Not everyone agrees - some influencers have suggested that likes serve as motivation to produce better content and are a way to gauge what type of content their audience likes to see.

While we would never suggest that data-driven content is a bad thing (far from it), the user will have access to the amount of likes a post receives, even if that number won’t be publicly visible.

If you’re an influencer or work extensively with influencers, and doubt the short-term impact of the ‘like ban’, it’s worth noting that the effects have been felt immediately. Even though this is just a trial, influencers in the countries affected have already seen a decrease in likes and other key engagement metrics.

Click farms

Please join us in observing a moment of silence for the humble click farm…

In a world with no likes, click farms would lose one of their major exports. The internet has no shortage of companies (with animated names like ‘BlastUp’ and ‘StormLikes’) who, for a fee and with the help of bots, will manipulate follower and like numbers for social media accounts. Instagram has already started culling fake followers - which explains why many celebrities and influencers lost swathes of followers late last year.

It’s unlikely that Facebook hiding likes will see click farms drop off the face of the earth completely, but the residents of this murkier side of the internet will need to look for a new metric to artificially inflate...

New metrics

Which brings us rather neatly to life in the post-like landscape. As with followers, ‘likes’ are something of a vanity metric. So, in a world where the Facebook like ban is in full effect, what stats should you be interested in?

Engagement rate

You could have all the (real or fake) followers in the world but if they’re not engaging with your channel then why bother having them in the first place? Engagement rate is the metric for identifying what type of content resonates best with your audience and where your followers’ interests lie. Once you know what makes them tick, you can tailor posts moving forward to retain that interest. Although likes factor into this, so to do comments and shares.


One of the more important metrics out there, reach lets you measure how many people have seen your posts. If your goal is to grow brand awareness then reach is the metric you need to be tracking. In order to improve your reach, you might want to consider hashtags, experimenting with caption text, optimising your posts better with locations and tags, or paid advertising.

Stories retention rates

With stories becoming increasingly prevalent (they’re expected to overtake the feed as the main channel for sharing content by the end of 2019) on Instagram and Facebook, stories retention rate is becoming a more important metric than ever before. This metric tracks the percentage of your audience that sees all your stories posts within a day and shows how long they watch for - if you can hold their attention then you know you’re onto something.

Need some social media expertise? Looking for a new direction for your brand’s social media channels? Book your free 30-minute consultation with one of the social media London specialists at Buzzbar HQ.