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Rumors have been circulating for the last six months or so, and this week’s news confirmed it: Instagram is working on removing ‘like’ counts from news feed posts for users.

Instagram, in a move to prompt more conversation over popularity contests, is testing not showing the number of likes on individual posts on accounts that you follow. The account owners can see the number of likes, but outwardly, no one will be able to see. Also, you will be able to see if your friends or people who are in common with the account also liked the account. 

When we think about removing the numbers on posts that we see – will this truly change how people use Instagram? One could argue that this might prompt Instagram users to share content without worrying about the perceived value of their posts. Have you ever taken a photo and instinctively gone to post it, but then thought, “Oh, I don’t think this will get very many likes. I won’t post it.” This is what Instagram is trying to combat with this move. 

On the other hand, the number shows how popular a post really is – and perhaps is a signifier of quality. Many influencers and social media managers out there are not comfortable with the change, because the number can signify the strength of their skill online, and that’s being hidden now. 

New Ways to Use and Engage with Instagram

I thought – let’s take a step back. What do we use Instagram for anyway? I’ve put together three other metrics that you can track on Instagram instead of likes on a post, that can show you that your efforts are a success: 

  1. Engagement Rate: Engagement rules the day in my book, and is truly the only metric I worry about when working on an account. To calculate engagement rate on a post, take the number of interactions (likes, comments) and the number of followers, and divide interactions by followers. For example, if a post gets 50 likes and comments, and you have 500 followers, 50/500=0.1. This is a 10% engagement rate for a post. If your engagement rate goes down after the numbers are removed, perhaps it’s time to take a look at your community building and make sure you are making an effort to start a conversation. 
  2. Think about your goals: Why is having XYZ number of likes a goal of yours? What does this signify? Think about other metrics – number of bio link clicks, the number of comments, the number of DM’s that you are getting. Perhaps you can rethink the strategy around posting, and prompt your community to do something else besides ‘like’ photos. 
  3. Connection: Try something different. Have you worked Instagram stories into your strategy? Instagram stories can be super powerful, especially because they are so interactive and easy to watch. Some accounts have ceased posting photos to the ‘grid’ completely and have turned 100% to stories. Stories can drive conversation in an authentic way that curated photos just don’t. 

Whether or not you’re worried about Instagram’s changes, I think it’s a good idea every once in a while to take a step back and think about ‘why am I using the tools that I do? Do they serve me?’ because sometimes we can get stuck in a rut! It’s okay – everybody does! But just make sure you don’t get stuck too long because the only thing in life that is guaranteed is change.