What Would Become of Social Media Marketing Without the ‘LIKE’ Count?

By Sarah Beath,   Junior Social Media Designer

Near the end of 2019, it was announced that the social media giant, Facebook, was contemplating the removal of the Like count from both its Instagram & Facebook platforms. Social users would still able to Like content that appealed to them, however, the number of individuals who Liked the same postings would not be visible. The alpha Like removal test was thus launched in a number of countries to observe what effect the removal would have on the engagement & overall performance of the social media platforms. 

It is still unclear why Facebook has moved to disregard the Like count functionality, however, one can argue that it is simply related to the emotional and mental aspect of its users. Suggesting that by having the Like count displayed, users are experiencing provoked feelings of competitiveness and envy towards those who are posting. A sense of not being ‘enough’ and comparing one’s life to another can have a severe impact on an individual’s mental health and self-worth. In theory, by removing the displayed Like count, the social media platforms will cease to be a ‘popularity contest’ amongst its users. This would allow the platforms to return to their original function of sharing content with friends and family.

However, how will this then shape the future of social media marketing, as the Like count is an integral part of calculating & reporting of metrics & trends? It doesn’t seem completely realistic for the Like count to be removed entirely, as a brand marketer you would still be able to monitor the data as it would still remain visible to you as the front end user i.e. the account manager.

Therefore, as the front end user, would the removal of the Like count really impact the way you market your brand as well as your social media marketing metrics? Essentially nothing should change in the way you present content or what you are advertising, but rather focusing on content that is relevant, helpful and impactful to your followers. Make content that is worth the temptation of clicking Like, rather than relying on users to fall prey to social conventions of blending in with the crowd. Although this could potentially lead to fewer Likes per post, the engagement, and interaction of those who do, could be seen as a more meaningful decision to engage. 

Continuing with the idea of meaningful interaction from a marketing perspective, shares and comments are possibly better signals that indicate that our messages and content are being seen by the correct audience, rather than simply having a large number of users blindly liking posts. Therefore, is the removal of the Like count really the be all to end all? In short...no. If this experiment is made concrete, social media marketers will have the opportunity to conduct their own experiments on how their content can be engaged with and what possible effects it may have on their brand going forward.
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