Measuring Social Media Success: 1 reason to support Instagram No Like testing

Testing. 1,2,3… is this thing on?

Last week, I decided to focus more of my Instagram posts on Stories rather than the Feed.

During a week-long vacation to Hawk’s Nest, Connecticut, a small beach haven near the Long Island Sound, I decided to post a photo of my escape from Center City, Philadelphia, not to my Feed but to my Story.

About an hour later, as I checked to see which of my friends had viewed my Story I saw the results: 100 views from old friends, family and even an ex-girlfriend from high school who I hadn’t spoken to in over 15 years.

I later posted the same photo to my Feed where I received only 16 Likes.

Suddenly, it hit me: Likes don’t represent my social following. Not even close. There are more people seeing my posts than what is reflected in Likes.

The next time I posted to my Story, I received 75 views and the third post from my trip earned 70 views. The next two posts to my Feed? Sixteen and 20 Likes.

Without any analytics besides Likes, most Instagram users probably aren’t aware of just how influential they are. Instead we usually only measure our social success by Like counts, which, again, doesn’t represent real engagement.

As I came to the realization that my Insta-following might be larger than I thought, I realized how many times I’ve actually enjoyed an Instagram post without Liking it. In other words, as I scroll through my feed, I’ll often view 10 posts but will only actually Like one of them. I do it all the time with Influencer accounts too. I’ll look through an influencer’s posts, clearly having been influenced, but won’t necessarily Like any of the posts simply because I forgot or the Like button just didn’t catch my eye.

Instagram’s New No Likes Test

When I returned from my vacation experiment, I learned that Instagram recently expanded its test to hide the number of Likes a post receives in an effort to create a “less pressurized environment” on the social network. (Don’t worry, you will still be able to see your Likes but others won’t.)

“We want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get,” Instagram said in a July 17 Feed post.

When testing first began in Canada last May, Instagram’s Adam Mosseri said the goal of hiding Likes was to minimize the stress of posting to the network. Many users compete over the number of Likes their posts receive. While users who earn a lot of Likes certainly love the Like count feature, those who gather fewer Likes feel unhappy or unpopular. That’s something Instagram wants to change.

Some wonder whether this is a turning point in social media while others wonder if this really will reduce anxiety while posting to Instagram.

Only time will tell whether this latest move is a game changer or Instagram-killer but PR pros around the world are already supporting the move to do away with the Like counter.

Our own expert, Paige Knapp, who just returned from the week-long VidCon conference, said, “Social media is still evolving rapidly every day – including how we measure impact and success. More and more, ‘vanity measurements’ such as likes on Instagram are giving way to metrics that better capture the deep and meaningful engagement social platforms can facilitate; namely, metrics that get to the heart of what all marketers want to know – how can social media touch points translate to action?”

Full archive