How Instagram and Facebook Hiding Likes Affects Your Band

As many of you know, Instagram has been playing with the idea of hiding the like count on posts.   It was trialled in Canada first back in April, with Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Ireland, Japan and Italy following soon after.

User behaviour on the platform changed almost immediately.  As many peeps predicted, accounts have generally seen a huge drop in the number of likes per post as a result.  It makes sense though, right? If you can’t see the result of your action why would you take it?

Marketers are generally torn on the idea.  Some seem to have gone along with Instagram’s explanation which was that hiding likes would lead to more meaningful interactions (comments and DMs) and better mental health.  A month on, I am not sure if we can see results to back up this hypothesis.

Others think that the timing of all of this is rather curious considering organic reach for businesses (including music pages) is down 18% across the board.

Social Media Expert, Stevie Says Social said in a recent Instagram post: “It’s a business decision; if you can’t see likes easily, you won’t notice declining reach 🤷🏻‍♀️

My view = They are restricting organic reach more and more (can’t blame them for that – they have to, the popularity of the platform is exploding – and they’re a business), and they don’t want the scenario they had when they did that with FB with businesses feeling like they were posting to crickets when posting organically, and then jumping ship.”

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Insta hiding likes? I don’t agree with the mental health argument that everyone has jumped on the bandwagon of (there, I said it🙅🏻‍♀️) and actually I don’t care that much about the whole thing at all, but since I’m getting asked for my opinion, I guess it’s this:: I personally think it’s interesting that the whole ‘hiding likes’ thing comes as Instagram begins restricting reach for brands (it’s down 18% across the board). It’s a business decision; if you can’t see likes easily, you won’t notice declining reach 🤷🏻‍♀️ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ My view = They are restricting organic reach more and more (can’t blame them for that – they have to, the popularity of the platform is exploding – and they’re a business), and they don’t want the scenario they had when they did that with FB with businesses feeling like they were posting to crickets when posting organically, and then jumping ship. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ You can still see and track your own likes, though. And influencers would still need to provide that data to businesses they work with. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So, in some ways it’s not a huge change. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ What I think WILL be interesting is how it affects user behaviour. Will people stop double tapping posts? If they do, it will impact how Instagram measures engagement (which is their holy grail metric). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The mental health thing and the fact everyone is jumping on that bandwagon in post about it is annoying though. Not because I’m not on board with mental health – TRUST me I am – but because I don’t think it’s the reason this is all happening and I think it’s easy to say ‘Yeah! A win for mental health!’ Is it, really? Crap content is still crap and won’t get attention, whether likes are visible or not. That said, a high school girl I know told me that at school the kids intentionally don’t ‘like’ the posts of the less popular kids (including hers), and that broke my heart so if it helps there.. great. What are your thoughts on all of this? 🤷🏻‍♀️

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Speaking of Facebook, they’re now testing hiding likes as of this week!

So how does this affect your band’s accounts? 

Well, Instagram Stories is still a core method of reaching and interacting with your followers.  I always say to clients they need to be using IG stories as much as possible and asking their audience to interact with them there (polls, questions, etc.)

But generally I think bands are going to have to work a lot harder in delivering content that sparks people’s interest enough that they actually leave a comment.  Bands are not marketers so this extra hurdle is naturally going to be challenging for many musicians out there who will no longer be able to rely on the number of likes on a nice live photo to validate whether their audience are engaged.

Yes, you can ask questions to spark discussion but keeping these questions purely band-related can get stale fast.  There are only so many times you can ask your audience if you should release new music soon (even though you already have your next single in the pipeline), which merch option they like better or what they think of a new video.

So, I’ve been watching closely at some of the bands I follow to see how they are promoting engagement not just on IG, but across all channels.  Those who have the most engagement are not just posting band-related shit. They’re constantly communicating to their audience as if the band-page was its own entity sharing it’s own thoughts.

These are bands that have nailed their branding and tone of voice that they communicate with (consciously or unconsciously).  As a result they drawn in fans with the same sense of humour, same interests, etc. and make them feel they are just as much a part of the band’s journey as it’s 5 members.

One of my favourite examples right now is Melbourne band, Windwaker

Windwaker are in the sweet spot I talk about a lot where they are just starting to rise to the next level. Less than a year ago they were mainly playing local shows but now they tour nationally, have a few festival slots under their belt, a professional high-profile management team, booking agent and are generating a shitload of buzz.

Their fans are so invested in their journey and they are known affectionately by the local industry here as the, “Windy Boys.”

Here’s a snip of their Facebook to give you an idea:

In my book, Social Media Shredder, I harp on the fact that yes, the music is important, but ultimately it’s who your band is as people that draws in hardcore fans. Showing more personality can be a hard thing to do, especially if you’re used to use simply posting live photos, videos and show posters on your band’s pages.

How can you start to show more personality?

Experimentation is the key.  Perhaps a good place to start is to look at what your band is sharing and talking about in the group chat.  How can you start sharing this with your audience to bring them into that inner circle? So long as it’s not offensive or so left field that it won’t make any sense to your audience, you’ll be fine.

But don’t go overboard on things like memes though.  Some bands are relying solely on memes to boost their engagement and you definitely don’t want to do this as it’s a little shallow.

Community is key

Another thing I think is important to focus on is how you communicate online with other bands. Not only is a sense of community always a good thing and commenting on each other’s posts helps significantly with reach, but how cool is it from a fan’s perspective to see two or more bands be full on homies supporting each other in the scene?

Not only for the feel-good aspect, but it cultivates a sense of these bands and their fans being in a club that others want to join. As weird as it is to say, humans naturally have a kind of ‘herd’ mentality. If other people are doing something, our brains naturally want us to follow suit. Our primal instinct is not to be an outsider (yes, even for us metalheads. In fact, most of us felt like outsiders growing up and this is why the heavy music community is so damn passionate and strong).

So having in-jokes with other bands, supporting them and nurturing the scene on and offline is really key in sparking this club-like mentality that other’s will want to join in on.

Do you have any band accounts you follow that have honed their ability to spark engagement within their community? Let us know in the comments so we can all check out how they’ve done it!