Two months on: do we need Instagram likes?

Back in July, Australia became the next test target for Instagram’s removal of like counts on the app. We kicked off our inaugural blog on the Hotglue website by discussing the overnight change. So, how has it changed?


Many people in the social media and marketing industries were worried about the impact that the removal of this data would have on tracking accounts, both ones managed and ones of competitors. How would this affect the way we plan content? Report on insights?


From this milestone event in July onwards, we decided to track our accounts’ data to see whether a big change would really occur. We collated the likes, comments, follower growth and number of posts for the months of June and August. This allowed a clearer point of difference (or not) to contrast before and after the trial beginning in July. For our beauty, apparel, automotive and pharmaceutical clients, we have seen mixed consequences.


The weekend immediately following the removal of likes, we would have seen reactive behaviour among Instagram users. Reactivity is when individuals alter their behaviour according to the awareness that their behaviour is being observed—by Instagram of course, but also agencies like us at Hotglue. Who liked what?


Another psychological tendency to take into account is social desirability bias. This is a response whereby Instagram users would like posts based on what is viewed or deemed to be a “good post”. Which posts should I be liking? This links in with the furore surrounding the impact that this trial would have on influencers, and the brands paying them to see well-liked content.


So, what did we see for the ten clients that we tracked?


Well, it was pretty miniscule. There was only a small percentage of change between those two months. Of course, our brands each have different strategies and milestones to skew this data, and the products and audiences vary greatly. We also had new clients. But ignoring the numerical differences, the changes were mixed but minor.


In the end, great content is what gives likes. It’s that simple! If we continue to create beautiful imagery and captivating video content for ourselves and our clients, the engagement will follow.