Hidden likes: Is this the beginning of the end in social media engagement?

By Mikaeya Kalantari, DDS, DrBicuspid.com contributing writer

November 22, 2019 -- For those of you that have not heard or read about it in the news, Instagram has begun testing the "hidden likes" format across many accounts in both the U.S. and abroad.

This means that as you scroll through those pretty photos on Instagram, your eye will no longer be drawn to the number of likes next to the heart -- because it will not be there! Account owners will be able to see their own number of likes, but the general population will not have access to that information.

So the question is: Is this a hallelujah moment or a cringeworthy fear of what's to come? With the right mindset, I would like to think it's the former and here's why.

Mikaeya Kalantari, DDS
Mikaeya Kalantari, DDS.

For me, the best part about this impending change is the fact that accounts (both personal and business) will no longer feel as if they are competing with one another. No matter how much people deny it, when a number is assigned to something, competition ultimately ensues, whether consciously or subconsciously. Not seeing the number of likes of other accounts and local businesses in your area means that you can focus all your energy on your account and your content rather than wondering why others are getting more likes than you are.

Business aside, another great thing is that this truly is setting a healthier precedent and mindset for our younger generations. No longer will young adolescents be posting content to garner likes and attention or, worse yet, be teased for the number of likes their photos receive. Cyberbullying is currently at an all-time high. If doing away with public likes can help in any way, I am all for it.

Regarding some of the concerns, the biggest drawback to this new change may just be a dip in engagement. But what does this really mean? Many people are anticipating (and I am in partial agreeance) that when Instagram takes away the visibility of likes, people will not feel as inclined to like or engage with your post. The potential concern is that, because likes will not be visible, people will not bother to "like" a photo because they may view it as pointless. There are also concerns from businesses stating that, without a like count visible to the public, this hampers any sort of social proof that a business could gain from the Instagram platform.

While both of these are valid arguments, in my opinion, Instagram has never been about the like counts when it comes to businesses. No matter the business, social media is more about getting your brand out there and creating brand awareness. This means that the focus should now turn toward the number of impressions and the number of people reached with a certain post rather than the number of likes that it receives. The more eyes you get your name in front of, the better -- no matter if someone "likes" your photo or not. This is especially true for dental offices and other healthcare providers.

Just remember that we are not on social media to become "instafamous" but rather to keep up with the trends and begin building some free brand recognition. While fun, dental offices certainly do not need to be concerned with accumulating large numbers of likes with each post published to Instagram.

Over the last few years, I have been learning the ins and outs of the social media world, and there seems to be only one guarantee in this realm. That guarantee is change. Social media will always be around in one form or another, and it will certainly always evolve. It is naïve to expect that things will always remain the exact same on your favorite social media platform (Instagram or not).

My best advice is to just stay true to YOUR course. Don't change or adjust your message for your office or your brand just because of a change with the platform or algorithm. And, at the end of the day, we can thank Instagram for letting us focus our energy on the truly important things in life!

Mikaeya Kalantari, DDS, is a pediatric dentist at Sunshine Smiles of Orange County and the founder of Thinking Outside The Drill.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.


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