Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

Instagram Is Hiding Likes. Here's What It Means for Brands and Influencers.

Stay ahead of social media trends.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The world of social media is in for a major shakeup as Instagram will start testing out hiding "likes" for some users in the U.S. This decision, following a number of recent tests in countries such as Canada and Japan, is meant to make Instagram posts less of a competition for likes and more about quality connections, particularly for young people, as Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri explained at the WIRED25 conference.

In addition to hopefully making social media a mentally healthier place for young people, making likes only visible to the poster and not the public could have a significant impact on brand and influencer marketing. While the long-term effects remain to be seen, it seems likely that less visibility of likes will lead to a more level playing field, where quality content rises to the top rather than the content with the highest quantity of likes.

Moving on from vanity metrics

While likes may have been a viable way to gauge social media engagement in the past, this measure has increasingly become a vanity metric that does not really indicate whether someone has influence.

For one, likes can be gamed to make posts seem more popular than they really are, such as with the rise of bots automatically liking certain posts, as well as reciprocal liking from pods or tags such as "like for likes." Plus, plenty of people may double-tap to like while mindlessly scrolling through posts, which doesn't mean that the posts are making much of an impact or that the person or brand sharing the post has influence.

Real influence means getting someone to act beyond likes, whether that's swiping a credit card, signing up for an event or doing whatever else you're looking to accomplish. By hiding likes, there will likely be less emphasis on this measure and more emphasis on getting results.

Creating better content

In many cases, brands hire influencers as a band-aid to cover up their own ineffectiveness on social media. Yet, because it's been difficult to judge influence based on vanity metrics, many companies have tried influencer marketing, spent significant money to do so, and have been disappointed with the results.

Going forward, with a decreased emphasis on the number of likes a post gets, brands will likely be drawn to influencers and brand ambassadors that can help them create better content, which they can leverage on their own channels and which increases brand awareness and marketing effectiveness. Moreover, some brands may have been embarrassed in the past to share content that got a limited number of likes, but now they may feel freer to share content that inspires conversation or leads to more purchases, even if it's aimed at a narrower audience.

Capturing millions of users' attention may not be possible, but even getting a few dozen people to start genuinely engaging with your brand could be the catalyst you need to gain real traction on and off social media. Getting there means becoming a better creator and storyteller and learning to recognize who you can partner with to advance your brand's content, rather than falling for the trap of hiring an influencer who gets a lot of likes or has a lot of followers but doesn't actually move the needle for your brand.

These shifts will take time, as Instagram is only rolling this change out on a limited basis, but if the network sees it as a success, you could see other social media platforms adopt similar features. As a result, social media may be able to get back to being more social rather than a popularity contest, which can be a win for brands, genuine influencers, and users who want social media to be a positive force.

Watch more videos from Carlos Gil on his YouTube channel here. Follow Carlos Gil on Instagram @CarlosGil83.


How a Throwaway Joke Became an Award-Winning Ad Campaign

In our 'Creative Conversations in Advertising' series, Creative Director at Goodby Silverstein & Partners Tristan Graham and Entrepreneur magazine Editor in Chief Jason Feifer discuss the birth of a very funny (and impactful) commercial.

How This Amazing Campaign Succeeded in Changing a Brand's Perception and People's Lives at the Same Time

In our series 'Anatomy of an Ad,' Group Creative Director Tony Jones gives the heartwarming story of how Operation Santa finally took off.

How this Tech Entrepreneur, Biohacker, and Author is Helping Women with Their Periods

The founder and CEO of Flo Living on the future of biohacking and hormonal healthcare.

Duce Raymond of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ on Using Social Media Like a Boss

Interview with Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Catering Culinary Director Duce Raymond about his fresh approach to social media content marketing and huge results with short video for the already world-famous brand.

The Key to Effectively Communicating Important Messages Is All About Simplicity

In our 'Creative Conversations in Advertising' series, award-winning Group Creative Director Giancarlo Rodas and Entrepreneur magazine Editor in Chief Jason Feifer discuss distilling complex ideas down to a simple message.

How to Deliver a Serious Message Through Humor

In our series 'Anatomy of an Ad,' Creative Director David Stevanov explains how humor can be a storyteller's most effective tool.

This Successful Shark Tank Entrepreneur Shares His Latest Innovation

The Founder of Ooonimals, Club 44, and the OOO Studio Lab talks about his current projects and what you need to know about the risks and rewards that exist in the NFT space.

Brendan Sweeney of Popmenu on How Ego is the Root of All Evil

Interview with Popmenu CEO Brendan Sweeney about building a positive user experience, the state of restaurant technology, and the importance of providing answers.

Recession-Proof Your Mindset with Neuroscience

With top economists fearing a recession, award-winning author Ben Angel teaches how to recession-proof your mindset with neuroscience to manage stress levels.

How to Find Your "Oxygen Points" to Sustain and Grow Your Business, According to an Investment CEO

Entrepreneur Network Partner Ashley Crouch sits down with the CEO of Al Zarooni Emirates Investments, Dr. Adil Alzarooni.

How to Get Investment Funding for Your Business

Entrepreneur magazine's Editor-in-Chief Jason Feifer and Narya Partner Falon Donohue have a lively and informative conversation about securing the funding you need to launch your dream.

Keith Koo Explains How Angel Investors Prioritize Startup Funding Decisions

Entrepreneur Network Partner Ashley Crouch sits down with the Managing Partner of Guardian Insight Group and Angel Investor, Keith Koo.

Why this Popular Web3 Esports Game Was Designed with a Play-to-Earn Model

The Chief Product Officer of MonkeyLeague discusses his company, why monkeys are all the rage for NFTs and gaming, and his advice for developers.

Want to Get Customers' Attention? Tell Them a Great Story.

In our 'Creative Conversations in Advertising' series, award-winning creative director Josh DiMarcantonio and Entrepreneur magazine Editor in Chief discuss the power of storytelling.

Discover Entrepreneur Series

Whether you need advice on how to get your business off the ground or you’re just looking for inspiration, our video series have something for everyone. Browse our library below to find a series that speaks to you and your interests.