Facebook removing likes
At the end of 2020 and since the new year, Facebook has been going through a major design overhaul. One of the main differences is that the ‘like’ button has been removed from public pages, so artists, brands and public figures won’t have the popularity counter visible.
There are a number of reasons why this change has come into play now - it’s part of Facebook’s updated UI and an easier-to-follow navigation system. The news feed will now be the point of focus for pages, so that conversations can take the spotlight, rather than an emphasis on which brand has more likes than another.
Facebook says, on the removal of likes, that it’s getting rid of them to “simplify the way people connect with their favourite pages”. The social media giant says followers of a page, rather than people who have liked it, represent the people who receive updates from pages, which helps give public figures a stronger indication of their fanbase.
But what does this mean for consumers? We could now see stronger communities based on shared interests forming on Facebook, giving consumers the opportunity to interact with the page owners and other followers. “Likes” can be seen as a passive way consumers interact - with individuals often liking a page without engaging with it. Putting the focus on followers and conversation not only would help build communities, but would benefit the page owners as they would be able to analyse their fanbase and grow their business by learning more about their audience.
One thing that has remained the same is that pages will continue to feature the verified badge, to help with safety in the community so pages aren’t duplicated without authenticity. Facebook says:
“We are continuing to expand the visibility of a verified badge to make it easier to identify posts and comments from authentic ages and profiles. A verified page’s comment on another page’s public post, may appear higher in the comments section and be visible in the news feed.”
Both Facebook and Instagram (owned by the former) have begun gradual removal of likes which are expected to be rolled out to all users in a few months. Another reason why the feature is being slowly phased out is to support the mental health movement. Removing likes from a page may significantly reduce the sense of competition that users have, so they can focus on growing their brand.
Although this move has many positives, the influencer community believes it will be negatively affected. Not being able to view likes, and subsequently the influencer’s popularity, there’s a potential for a decrease in engagement which could negatively impact revenue.
The effects of removing likes and changing Facebook’s UI is something which can only be measured once it is fully integrated into the social media channel – but we can expect to see more focused communities arise as a result of the changes. This will help consumers connect with the things they like, something which is important now more than ever due to the pandemic.