Starting from September 27, 2019, Facebook is trialling the removal of the number of ‘likes’ on posts on the platform. They’ve started rolling out the trial in Australia – so by now, your Facebook feed may look a little different. The number of likes, reactions and views will only be visible to the creator.
Since Facebook’s beginnings, the ‘thumbs up’ icon has developed its own identity, simultaneously representing Facebook and a positive reaction. But now they’re testing its removal.
Similar to the removal of Instagram likes in April this year, it seems initially to be linked to mental health hypotheses and the value people get from using the platform.
“We want to see whether removing the visibility of the likes and reaction count increases the value that people find when they’re connecting and sharing on Facebook.” says Facebook’s Australian head of policy, Mia Garlick. “So do people find that this helps them focus on the quality of the interactions, rather than getting distracted by the quality of likes and reactions?”
But what does Facebook hiding likes mean for your marketing?
While it’s tricky to know exactly what the impact will be, we believe it will probably mean a drop in engagement – or, at least, in the number of likes your posts receive.
People value knowing what other people like, and quite literally on Facebook you could (until now) see what other people ‘like’. It follows that people are more likely to ‘like’, or engage with, a post if they see it’s popular with others. This is just human nature.
Think about it. You’re scrolling through your Facebook feed, seeing post after ad after post, with ‘likes’ in the order of 10s or 100s. Suddenly you see a post that has over 1k likes. You’re more likely to stop and check it out, yes?
On the other hand, it is possible (and this is probably what Facebook is hoping), that instead of noticing the number of reactions on posts, you’ll pay more attention to the posts themselves. You’ll stop and look at the pieces that grab your attention purely because they interest you – not because they interest what seems like a large number of people.
Maybe you won’t click ‘like’, because you don’t feel an underlying need to show you’re into this popular thing too. But maybe you’ll engage with it in a more meaningful way (still clicking on it to enlarge or read or watch it – which is what Facebook wants).
What do you need to do about it?
Essentially, there’s nothing you can do about it. Either your followers will continue seeing like counts (as there is a control group who’ll have the original experience) or they won’t.
Our advice remains the same as always: create interesting content that makes your audience want to stop and engage, regardless of how many likes it has.
At the same time, be aware that this means the future success of your posts and ads will possibly be measured with metrics other than likes. You may pay more attention to clicks, for example. We expect Facebook will have some helpful resources for businesses, once the trial is more mature and they solidify the direction.
Facebook is saying “hopefully if everybody’s use on the platform is higher quality and more positive and intentional, it’s a great result for everyone, including advertisers”
If you want to jam on this change, or just chat social media in general, hit us up. We love connecting for real 🙂