At Facebook’s F8 developer conference last week, the company confirmed what had been rumored the past few weeks. Instagram “Likes” may very well be going by the wayside. That’s right — like counts on Instagram photos, as well as views on videos, will start to be hidden for users as a part of a test in Canada.

In other words, some of the self-satisfying gratification that we have all become accustomed to on the world’s most popular image sharing network, might be in jeopardy. While you might not be able to show off the number of likes you get publicly, you’ll still have access to view the likes on your own photographs when logged in to your account. If the test in Canada is successful, the change will undoubtedly roll out worldwide.

So what’s this mean for photographers, specifically from a marketing perspective?

Understanding the Like system

To understand why Instagram is changing the way the “Like” system works, we have to understand where the thought came from. If you’re like me, you were obsessed with the photo sharing site Flickr in the early 2000s. The more favorites you received on your photographs, the more likely you’d be to show up on the Explore page, which would undoubtedly lead to a multitude of new followers and worldwide fame.


Flickr was like a game. What photos did best for your audience? What types of photos were more likely to receive recognition? And with Instagram, it’s the same. I know that on my account, my food and landscape photos tend to be the most popular. When I post photographs from my corporate events, street photos or anything else, I don’t get as much love from my followers and beyond. So I strategize. I pick the photos that I know will undoubtedly get more engagement on the platform. That process won’t go away, but what will is the ability for other users to see how popular my photos are.

What does the change mean?

With this change, you ultimately get a more level playing field on Instagram.

There’s a thought that, with Instagram, you’re more likely to like a photograph if one of the people you follow does. Or if it’s already gotten a ton of likes. With this change, that mindset will go away, and you’ll like photos that truly speak to you. In essence, you’ll be less influenced by others and be able to give your own opinion easier, without judgement.

Instead, every photograph is equal, meaning there’s less competition for attention and engagement because the above factors are no longer working against you. It enables your followers to focus more on your content, versus how many likes your content has.

Does this change my marketing?

In a word, no. This doesn’t really change much in terms of how to strategize Instagram. But it does mean one thing — you should really, really start paying more attention to Instagram if you aren’t already active on it. This change means you have the opportunity to be seen more than before, and get likes and comments where you previously wouldn’t. While this might be a loss for those accounts who have millions of followers, if anything, this is a major win for the little guy looking to grow their photography business.

Thanks Michael Muraz for the screenshots!

For more on Photography Marketing, see my weekly column.