Do the likes on YouTube channel make a difference
Facebook was the first company to offer a like button. Later it was adopted by other online services. In recent years, the like button has devalued and become a cause of neurosis. Now, social networks are abandoning it in favor of other metrics.
In the spring of 2019, YouTube gradually began to round up the number of subscribers to channels, and in the summer of that year it became known that Instagram began to turn off the counters of likes under the publications of some users from seven countries. Later, Facebook (which owns Instagram) joined this experiment.
In Instagram, the innovation works in the following way: subscribers see the nickname of only one user who left a like and the signature “and others”. At the same time, the author of the publication will still be able to find out how many people liked it and who.
Many years ago, one way has proved itself excellent – these are promotion sites, on the type of LowcostSmm. At this service, cheap likes, subscribers and views on YouTube is not difficult to get. Also inexpensive and services to promote an Instagram account.
The ability to hide the tags is voluntary and can be enabled by users. On YouTube, the dislikes will also be visible to the author of the video, and users will be able to click on the inverted thumb, but they won’t be able to see the number of negative ratings. In turn, rounding subscribers counters works for all accounts that have more than 1 thousand viewers. Specific metrics are still available to the creator of the video in YouTube’s “Creative studio”.
Weaknesses of the human mind
The pursuit of quantitative metrics on social media stems from a desire for approval. Viewers, likes, comments and followers are related to this need, which found a place in Maslow’s pyramid. Social networks fit into this hierarchy, and Internet users relate particular services to a particular need.
Facebook and Instagram just lock in reverence, respect and recognition. At a time when there was no Internet, such social approval was achieved with diplomas, badges of honor and boards of honor, but social networks have simplified the way of distributing this praise and expanded the number of people who can receive it.
Researchers have found that likes and nice comments on social networks provoke a surge of dopamine. This hormone is responsible for satisfaction and is produced in the human body, for example, after good sex, good food and successful social interaction.
Pleasant sensations in the brain cause people to want to repeat them and, therefore, cause addiction, the researchers believe. The founder of Social Capital Chamat Palihapitiya is sure that users “get hooked” on social networks as it happens with drugs or gambling.
The creators of social networks took advantage of the vulnerability of the human psyche, forcing the audience to devote more time to services with the help of likes. In 2017, former Facebook president and Napster founder Sean Parker said the social network was created to exploit weaknesses.
“Every like or comment on a photo or post promotes dopamine production and forces the user to spend more time on Facebook and create content for the sake of more likes and comments. It’s a vicious cycle that exploits human frailty. Me, Mark Zuckerberg and Kevin Systrom from Instagram understood this, but we didn’t stop,” he told Axios.
Another gap in the human mindset that social media exploits is a fixation on numbers and counters. People care about the amount of money earned, age, date of birth, weight, height, size, steps, likes, views and users. Counting helps people navigate a particular context and find some stability in a chaotic world. At the same time, the numbers never end up satisfying a person because they don’t reflect the real picture of the world and may not seem high enough in comparison.
In 2017, former Facebook employee Leah Perlman, one of the creators of the like button, told Vice, “At first I thought [liking] was an amazing thing that we created. About two years ago, I noticed that the algorithms of the news feed had changed, so certain content wasn’t as widespread.
That’s when I started drawing these comics. Comics were my way of drawing and sharing my inner world, and I posted them on Facebook, gaining more and more fans, I loved it. But when Facebook changed its algorithms, the number of likes decreased. I felt like I wasn’t getting enough oxygen.”
Taking Care of Mental Health
Psychologists and social scientists have been drawing attention for several years to the harm that Instagram, Facebook and other services do to users’ psychological well-being. Specifically, the services can cause FOMO (missed opportunities syndrome), hit self-esteem, cause feelings of envy, reduce concentration, cause stress and increase anxiety. Not the least of these disorders is the number of likes and views.
IT giants cite the official reason for hiding likes and dislikes as precisely a concern for the psychological state of the audience. Facebook and YouTube have been trying for two years to see if users will be less nervous and fixated on digital metrics.
YouTube commented on the rounding of counters, “We hope it will allow authors to focus on telling their story and feel less pressure from the numbers.” In 2019, Instagram fashion director Eva Chen said the following about abandoning likes: “Instagram really wants to be the safest platform, the friendliest platform and the kindest platform.”
The actions of social media should not only be seen through a humanity approach, but also through a business approach. Tension and anxiety cause users to delete posts, get deleted from social media, or simply devote less time to it. Because of this, IT companies lose active audiences and money.
At the same time, according to the results of the first experiments, it turned out that part of users are not happy with the disabling of likes. Influencers turned out to be the most among the critics. In their opinion, the likes allow you to follow trends in social networks.
It also allowed you to understand how bloggers competitors were doing. After hiding the likes in test countries, the engagement rate of Instagram posts dropped by 10% on average. Engagement rates for bloggers with between 1,000 and 5,000 subscribers dropped 14%. Influencers with 100,000 to 1 million followers saw their engagement rate drop 43%. Bloggers with millions of subscribers dropped by 32%.
What do the likes on YouTube and who needs them for what?
Likes, views and number of subscribers are called vanity metrics. The term was coined back in 2009 by entrepreneur Eric Rice, author of Lean Startup. According to him, entrepreneurs and investors should not look at the metrics, which show a pretty picture, but at the figures, which show the real effectiveness of the product.
Rice analyzed “vanity metrics” from a purely business perspective, but these principles explain why tech giants are now reconsidering their policies regarding likes, followers and views.
Vanity or Efficiency
“Vanity metrics are harmful because they appeal to the weaknesses of the human mind,” Rice writes in Lean Startup. According to the entrepreneur, metrics only inflate egos and don’t allow you to analyze the real reasons for growth or decline.
For example, the number of social media followers, number of reposts, likes, posts, user time on a site and number of views should be studied as auxiliary metrics and analyzed in conjunction with other metrics. Businesses or bloggers need to set specific goals and understand who their target audience is. Accordingly, the indicators in social networks should be viewed through this prism – whether they help achieve the goal and understand the audience.
Also marketers advise to focus on such metrics: instead of likes – engagement ratio, instead of total number of users – number of active subscribers, instead of views – number of clicks. For example, if we are talking about the market of Influencers, then brands should not look at the number of subscribers and likes, but request information on engagement and conversion.
Instagram explained its experimentation with likes back in 2019 by betting on the quality of content. “We want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they collect,” the social network said.
The likes have depreciated in value
While initially the Facebook likes were an element of support for the author of the post, over the years, the social networks that have adopted the mechanism, it has become an indicator of the quality of the content.
In the case of likes, it is also important to note the fact that users are subject to herd instinct. In 2012, researchers at the University of Queensland found that users were more likely to like posts that already had a large number of likes. The absence of a heart counter will allow the audience to make a more thoughtful decision concerning their preferences.
Another problem with social media is the likes-getting phenomenon. Instagram has been consistently fighting this negative phenomenon for several years, and in 2023 began blocking posts and stories whose authors beg for likes. Hiding the counter is probably another step along the way. At the same time, experts believe that without likes, user scams and even comments will continue to flourish.
Less tags, more content
With the help of manipulations with likes, Facebook wanted to increase engagement by encouraging users to leave comments on posts. Employees of the IT corporation told CNBC about this back in 2019. Instagram tested the hypothesis that hiding the likes counter would spur activity on the social network: users would post more content because they would feel freer and would be more willing to comment on each other.
Judging by the fact that by 2023 the social network not only did not abandon the idea, but decided to extend it to all users (albeit with the option to voluntarily disable the counter), the version proved to be true.
In 2017, BuzzSumo published a study showing that engagement rates for posts on branded Facebook pages dropped 20%. Analysts attributed this to a revamping of the social network’s algorithms, in which likes mattered less than comments under a post or the number of reposts.
That is, it is not enough for the brand to get hearts on its page – it is important to provoke a discussion or motivate the user to share the record.
For its part, Instagram in 2019 began to motivate users to more actively use the “Save” button, which can be used to add a particular publication to the collection.
For the social network, this is an indicator that the content resonates with the audience – users consider the publication so valuable that they are willing to set it aside to return to it periodically. Then marketing platform Later found out that “Save” has become the “new black” in the world of SMM and allowed bloggers to get more coverage.
Another reason for the abandonment of likes may lie in an attempt to gain an additional audience. Users who received few likes under posts, in some cases deleting posts and photos. If Instagram and Facebook take the pressure off authors, they can get more content (and therefore time and money) from less popular users.
This also works with microinfluencers (bloggers who have between 1,000 and 10,000 subscribers), who brands have become more willing to look at. In addition, social networks are losing audiences who belong to Generation Z – young users are abandoning Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, giving preference to TikTok.
Popularity on the Chinese service is less dependent on the number of likes and followers. The new engagement mechanisms may be an attempt to bring “zoomers” back to the platforms.
The attempt to change the rules of the game may also mean concern for reputation – technogiants are subject to constant criticism and accusations even without research on the harm of likes and view counters.
It’s too early to say that social networks have finally gotten rid of likes. It is also impossible to conclude whether limiting the counters will have a positive effect on the psychological well-being of users, whether they will become less vain. At the same time, getting rid of “likability” will force bloggers and brands to look at other metrics when analyzing their effectiveness.