Facebook is hiding ‘likes’ and reaction metrics. What does this mean?

As Facebook follows Instagram in a trial of hiding reactions in Australia, conversation has once again turned to what this means for businesses and consumers.

Facebook’s likes and reactions have always been synonymous with social approval and popularity – making online interactions a competition for the number of likes, clicks or views. Social media platforms can no longer ignore the potential negative impact that level of public approval and validation can have on people’s mental health.

With ‘likes’ being such a  fundamental feature of  Facebook by removing reaction counts, it shows they’re placing more value on meaningful engagement as opposed to vanity metrics. Whilst there’s a lot of debate surrounding Facebook’s intent – if it helps people have a more positive experience, it’s a step in the right direction.

It’s fair to say a lot of people will initially be impacted by this platform update. However, Facebook has changed significantly over the last 10 years. Businesses have had to constantly, and quickly adapt to stay ahead of their algorithms. A little over a year ago, they announced the change to their algorithm in favour of posts that encourage meaningful interactions between people. Removing reaction counts  is another step towards that goal.

With Instagram’s active users remaining stable since they implemented the change back in July, it suggests that users will stay loyal to the platform, and time will tell whether this helps increase user confidence in sharing more content on the platform.

With the user experience unlikely to be rocked by this move, it will once again be businesses who will be most impacted and need to adapt to the change. With likes not publicly visible, and the incentive for social media users to ‘like’ content arguably less – businesses will need to adapt and find more creative ways to engage and capture their audience, in a more meaningful way, as opposed to chasing likes.

This should also be seen as an opportunity from a measurement perspective, the change represents a positive shift. There’s been an over reliance on measuring vanity metrics, which can overshadow more meaningful metrics, such as sales.

This shift further empowers businesses to tell more compelling stories about the actions customers have taken from their social marketing campaigns, and the contribution it has made towards their business results.

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