Facebook toys with hiding 'likes' and views on posts

The social media giant first introduced the feature to Instagram, now it's testing on Facebook

Plenty of real estate agents consider social media engagement a vital part of their marketing plan. So what happens when one sign of engagement, such as a “like” on Facebook, is hidden? That’s the reality some Facebook users are facing as the platform tests hiding the number of likes and views a post gets.

According to an article by The New York Times, the social media giant has already begun testing the feature in Australia, though it’s unknown if the testing will expand to other international markets.

“We will gather feedback to understand whether this change will improve people’s experiences,” Facebook spokesman Jimmy Raimo told The Times, while pointing to the conversation regarding social media and how it can negatively impact users’ self-esteem.

Facebook isn’t the first social media platform to test removing the specific number of likes or views a post gets. In April, Instagram (which Facebook owns) quietly began testing the feature with users noticing the number of likes on their posts suddenly disappearing.

“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get,” read the alert beta testers received. “During this test, only the person who shares a post will see the total number of likes it gets.”

By July, Instagram expanded its testing beyond the United States to Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. The reactions to the switch have been varied, with every day users relived from the pressure of garnering the right amount of engagement.

On the other hand, Instagram influencers who are paid by fashion, beauty and retail brands to advertise products and independent business owners were less than thrilled.

“I really think that likes are just part of the platform,” Canadian influencer Jess Grossman told Business Insider in an article published earlier this month. “What can I do? It’s a platform I’m using for free.”

Instagram and Facebook alike have expressed the goal of returning to each platform’s original purpose — giving users a way to connect with family and friends. As a result, advertisements and linked posts have been pushed down by the algorithm.

In a previous Inman article, social media expert and Curaytor co-founder Chris Smith said agents don’t need to fret about algorithm changes. Instead, they need to focus on posting quality content consistently.

“I can tell you a couple universal truths about the algorithm,” Smith said. “The first one is the one that no one wants to hear: The No. 1 way to get more engagement is to quit posting stuff that sucks. You’ll find out that the message is the only thing that truly matters.”

“It’s a 50/50 algorithm. Fifty percent of your engagement comes within the first hour,” he added. “The other 50 percent comes within the next 23 and a half, and the rest never comes.”

Although engagement totals, such as likes and views, won’t be visible to your audience, they’ll still be available on the backend. Smith suggests paying attention to those metrics and simply keep sharing what works.

“If they like listing photos, post more listing photos,” Smith said. “If they like to see you, post more videos and pictures of you.”

Email Marian McPherson