Tag: likes

4 Major Platforms Pushing to Overhaul Vanity Metrics and What This Means for Marketers

The internet was founded on the promise of a digital utopia that would enable a natural flow of information sharing and connectivity. Today, however, we face an inflection point in which there are growing concerns that we’ve squandered this opportunity in lieu of chasing reach and scale and prioritizing content that distracts and interrupts, in turn promoting divisiveness and narcissism.

When a post doesn’t perform with big numbers, people instantly feel bad. Conversely, when they see a high volume of interaction they are triggered with an instant feeling of satisfaction equivalent to a hit of dopamine.

Several platforms are hoping to make radical changes addressing this issue. Let’s take a look at some of the latest updates making headlines and what they mean for marketers:


Image via Instagram

Following the recent F8 developer conference this past April, Instagram announced that it would be conducting tests for a new feature that would hide users’ public like counts on videos and photos. Kicking off the process with Canada, likes would be hidden in the Feed, permalinked pages, and on profiles.

In a quote shared by The Verge, Instagram stated the motive behind the decision was that it wants followers to “focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.”

Initially, the test was met with uncertainty regarding how it would impact how it would influence the way the platform was used, particularly by influencers who heavily rely on such metrics as a measure of how their content is performing. After a few months of testing, however, sentiments have seemed to shift with people acknowledging the benefits of the feature.

One user, Matt Dusenbury, shared, “Without seeing the likes count on feed posts now, I find myself more clearly focused on the actual quality of the content being posted.”

Instagram has yet to officially publish data around how effective hiding likes has been on people’s posting habits, but last week, as of May the test has expanded to six more countries: Ireland, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand.

Individuals who are part of this test group can still the number on their own content as long as they tap through it, but must opt-out in order to show the likes publicly.


— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) September 2, 2019

Fast-forward to this month, Instagram’s parent company is taking a few notes and confirmed to TechCrunch the platform is contemplating hiding the Like Counter on News Feeds posts in an effort to dissuade censorship and inhibit sentiments of envy. In other words, there is a desire to take away the popularity contest that comes with engaging on the social platform.

The test was first reported by Jane Manchun Wong who took to Twitter to reveal that she had spotted Facebook prototyping the hidden Like counts within its Android app.

No further details have been shared by the platform regarding exact motives, or any schedule for starting testing but one can assume it would be gradual to allow for implications with respect to response and ad revenue from brands to be identified.

USA Today recently shared some feedback that has already surfaced on the Internet regarding the potential move.

“Bad thing,” said Facebook user Phil Leigh, “Likes give the poster a way to measure whether her content is useful to others, especially as it is tracked over time.”

On Twitter, reviews were mixed, some claiming they have since stopped using Facebook, others pointing to a reduction in scalability. Monica Reddy, however, is an advocate for pushing back against the notion that dominant the social landscape of ‘keeping score.’


Per a recent Marketing Land report, as of this month, YouTube will begin showing abbreviated subscriber counts for channels with 1,000 or more subscribers.

“Beyond creating more consistency, ​this addresses creator concerns about ​stress and ​wellbeing, specifically around tracking public subscriber counts in real-time.​ ​We hope this helps all creators focus on telling their story, and​ experience less pressure​ about the numbers,” explained a YouTube team member on the site’s Community Forum Blog.

Creators and Developers instantly had questions and expressed a desire for more details about how the YouTube Data API Service would change. The platform clarified describing that Creators will still be able to see their exact subscriber numbers in YouTube Studio and YouTube analytics. Examples outlined how public-facing subscribers counts would now appear. For instance, channels with 12,345 subscribers would show a subscriber count of 12.3K, channels with 1,234,567 would show 1.23M, and channels with 123,456,789 subscribers would display a subscriber count of 123M.

As far as reactions, one individual, Martyn Littlewood pointed to the impact this would have on brand partnerships and their accuracy stating on the forum thread, “Business partners could go elsewhere if they believe their quota can’t be met — alternatively it could low ball initial offers from them and undermine brand deal opportunities. Sure, you could argue that they [brands] will get in touch, then you can send accurate information, but what if they never call at all?”

Another, Terry Ghast, raised similar concerns about authenticity claiming, “If this is to discourage ‘cancel culture,’ make this an optional setting that is defaulted to abbreviation but still allow viewers the ability to turn it off so they can track sub count to celebrate milestones together…Showing full sub count would be a badge of authenticity, and more believable than abbreviated. Please listen to the community and not be caught in your echo chamber.”


This past Spring LinkedIn rolled out a new assortment of reactions targeted to provide ‘more expression ways to respond to the variety of posts you see in your feed.” Added options including Love, Celebrate, Insightful and Curious also serve the purpose of helping users better understand the impact your posts are having and additional insight into why someone is engaging with the piece of content.

“We took a thoughtful approach to designing these reactions, centered around understanding which ones would be most valuable to the types of conversations members have on LinkedIn,” said LinkedIn’s Cissy Chen in the official announcement. She pointed to examples as to how each could be used for instance using Celebrate to praise an accomplishment or work milestone, Love to express deep support around topics of work/life balance and mentorship, and Insightful or Curious when you encounter a thought-provoking idea.

What does it all mean?

Now that we’ve broken down the latest proposed and existing changes across these major platforms, let’s dissect what this means in the grand scheme of marketing.

Influencer content specifically will pivot to more higher quality content as metrics they’re accustomed to leaning on won’t carry as much weight as they previously did. What the hope is with this transition is that we will ultimately see cases of deeper, more meaningful engagement through incentivizing users to focus more on the content and not on the competition. For instance, it may pave the way to a spike in commenting behavior which arguably is more productive than a simple ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down.’

On the flip side, without such easily trackable metrics, influencers inevitably become harder to scout.

For brands, hiding the number of likes makes it more challenging to legitimize their partnerships and in fact, may discourage them from working with influencers and instead lean on targeted ads as guaranteed drivers of the results they’re after. If they do decide to collaborate with an influencer, they’re more likely to put paid media support behind their influencer posts, and also opt for ephemeral content that has a finite lifespan before it disappears.

Ultimately, there are pros and cons to this movement but one thing remains clear: it has the potential to radically change the social media system we’ve come to know over the past decade.

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Like It, Love It, Celebrate It: Why Social Media Marketers Will Love LinkedIn’s New Reactions

If you look below posts on LinkedIn, you might see something slightly different than you’re accustomed to seeing.

Where posts on your feed previously generated Likes, they might now be receiving a few different reactions. Appearing under content with a variety of multicolored circles, these new reactions are expanding the ways LinkedIn users can express themselves.

Who Needs More Than a “Like”?

The need to express oneself on LinkedIn might seem excessive or unnecessary for a professional platform, but Product Manager Cissy Chen insists these new options were in more demand than you might think:

One of the things we regularly hear from all of you is that you want more expressive ways than a ‘like’ to respond to the variety [of] posts you see in your feed. At the same time, you’ve also told us that when you post on LinkedIn, you want more ways to feel heard and understand why someone liked what you said.

The latter is incredibly common; when posting something that could be construed as bad or disappointing news (headlines about disappointing hiring trends or discouraging experiences, for example), a “like” hardly feels like an appropriate reaction. Product designers for the platform took up this challenge heartily, “determined to stay focused on our members’ needs and the unique conversations they have on LinkedIn,” said product designer Ricardo Rivera. They sought to create options that helps users to know “why someone ‘liked’ what they shared, as well as more lightweight ways to express that a post resonated with them.”

The Result: Meet LinkedIn’s New Reactions

In addition to the preserved “Like” option, users worldwide will soon have access to the following four reactions:


Part of the process that LinkedIn product designers used to determine the most appropriate reactions was an analysis of the most common 1-2 word responses to posts. Their number one finding? “Congratulations.” As a result, this reaction button (designated by a green set of applauding hands) was developed for users to “praise an accomplishment like landing a new job or speaking at an event.” Marketers can use instances of this reaction to gauge appreciation for company milestones, appearances on industry lists, and additions to their respective workforces.


Chen writes in her product announcement that this button, designated with a reddish coral heart, would be most appropriately deployed “to express deep resonance and support, like a conversation about work-life balance or the importance of mentorship.” This one seems to be a direct result of data provided from feedback mechanisms like user surveys and comments- where people often said, “I need a ‘love’ button.” Social media marketers can keep an eye out for this reaction upon the release of new products or product features, or helpful responses to follower queries.


At times, it can be helpful to be able to indicate that a point made you think- without doing so in a way that indicates you “like” it. The Insightful reaction, represented by a yellow lightbulb, was designed for precisely this. “In past research,” Rivera noted, “we found that posters want to know whether these ideas have an impact on other people. This insight (no pun intended) inspired the “Insightful” (and “Curious”) reaction. When using content to present ideas that they hope will spark behavior changes or meaningful feedback, observing the use of this reaction can help content creators determine whether their content is achieving the desired goal.


This reaction, closely related to the Insightful response, “lets [users] show [their] desire to learn more or react to a thought-provoking topic.” This option could provide particular insight to content creators, as it could provide clear clues about what elements of a concept or process might merit follow-up or supplemental coverage. This reaction, denoted with a purple “thinking” head, is one that likely finds special utility on LinkedIn—a more educational space than other platforms who have deployed reactions previously.

Four New Ways to Connect Humans Worldwide

While LinkedIn’s decision to develop additional reactions doesn’t seem like a novel one, especially three years after occasional competitor Facebook released theirs, what does seem novel here is the deliberacy with which the platform moved. Three admirable principles upon which the company based their reaction development were constructiveness to a poster, meaningful interaction drive (versus vanity metrics), and global universality- Rivera and his design team insisted that “reactions should be understood globally so that every member of the global workforce can have productive conversations with each other on LinkedIn.”

To acknowledge that humans can have a multitude of reactions to a single stimulus, in turn acknowledges the humanity of people using the platform. This is a stride that aligns with LinkedIn’s recent larger focus in this area: “LinkedIn has been infusing a warmer, more human look and feel in all of [its] visuals to help build more emotional connections,” and the manner in which this change was deployed demonstrates that. After so many years of fighting its reputation as a stiff, hard-to-understand platform, moves like this and their “Kudos” feature are actively making a dent in that perception.

And for marketers seeking to infuse humanity in their communications, LinkedIn is finally a platform that can “meet you there,” as it were. Inc. points out that “a more diverse range of options lets marketers know how people truly [feel] about their content.” Although the full range of reactions isn’t captured here—notably, there are no negative or potentially negative options provided—it does give social media managers and social listeners new insight into the audiences they’re seeking to understand…and all the many feelings they may have about you and your company.

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Why Twitter is Thinking of Killing Off Their Like Button

Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey hinted at a Twitter event last week that the final day of the heart-shaped “like” button will be arriving soon.

According to The Telegraph, it’s wasn’t the first time he admitted that he doesn’t want it anymore — he talked about his frustration with the button weeks ago at the Wired25 summit.

“We have a big ‘like’ button with a heart on it and we’re incentivizing people to want it to go up. Is that the right thing? Versus contributing to the public conversation or a healthy conversation? How do we incentivize healthy conversation,” Dorsey said at the event.ote>

Twitter has long been accused of fostering hate crimes by failing to curb violent and extreme content, as well as creating a space for Russian bots to swing public opinion. So when the rumor of canceling the button comes, Twitter users have mixed feelings.

Some think they will be losing an important metric to demonstrate public support, some think that the platform’s biggest feature of being a civil place for debates will be cut short, and some think Twitter’s simply failing, again, to take care of the public’s concerns on hate crimes.

“Really though, if you had to ask any average user what were the main things leading to a bad “quality of debate” on this bad website, the tiny little heart symbols would not exactly be at the top of most people’s lists” – Josh Butler.

It’s uncertain, though, when this thought of the CEO will be executed. Following Telegraph’s report, Twitter’s Communications team tweeted that “We are in the early stages of the work and have no plans to share right now.”

Taylor Lorenz wrote in The Atlantic that, instead of getting rid of like button, retweet should be their target.

Retweets, not likes, are Twitter’s most powerful method of reward,” wrote Lorenz. “The quest to accrue retweets regularly drives users to tweet outlandish comments, extremist opinions, fake news, or worse. If Twitter really wants to control the out-of-control rewards mechanisms it has created, the retweet button should be the first to go.

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