Social networks have become part of our daily lives. Businesses use it to stay in touch with their customers, governments use it to communicate with the public, and everyone (and their grandmother) seems to have a profile on at least one social media platform.
Social media is here to stay, and it gives us insight into the lives of friends, family, and strangers around the world. And, with most social media platforms, you also get the “Like” button – or some version of it – to show your support for what you see.
But is the “Like” button really a good thing? Let’s take a look at some pros and cons and if they are actually essential to the social media experience…
The case of the like button
Almost every social media platform has a way to signal your approval for posts. Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook have likes, Reddit has upvotes, and Snapchat has favorites.
But what value do they add to these sites? Here are some positives of the feature…
Like button improves suggestions
Likes are a necessity when considering the fundamentals of most platforms.
Every platform that recommends and filters content, like Instagram and YouTube, relies on an algorithm. The algorithm needs your tastes, so it knows what to show you.
The more you like, the better suggestions you get. It’s one of the best things about TikTok, for example. It organizes your For You Page (FYP) based on what you like to see. If you love DIY and dog content, your feed and recommendations will eventually reflect that.
When you first open TikTok, you’ll be greeted with generic content. But as you view and like, you organize your FYP on TikTok.
YouTube works the same as most other social media platforms.
Without being able to like the posts you like, how will the algorithms work? How will they personalize your experience?
Likes are a helpful sign of engagement
When you post on a platform like Instagram, for example, engagement matters.
The more people see and like your post, the more Instagram will push it on its other users. This, in turn, will lead to more eyes and likes, and so on.
Without having liked to increase the engagement on your post, fewer people will see it because it will not be promoted by the platform.
Positive feedback for good content
Likes are good for your confidence. Whatever you share about yourself online, you feel good when it gets likes. Whether you’re showing off an outfit you’ve styled, a DIY project you’ve completed, a video critiquing a movie, it doesn’t matter.
Whatever content you post, likes can give you a confidence boost. Seeing people resonate with what you’ve posted is quite a nice feeling.
Negative Effects of the Like Button
As with many social media features, the like button also has drawbacks.
Here are some of the negative effects buttons have on platforms and users…
The pressure to chase likes on social media
Every time you post online, you share a bit of yourself, you give the world a part of you.
Seeing that it’s not received as well as you’d hoped can lead to low self-esteem. This can cause doubts about your self-esteem and generally depress you.
You may feel anxious when posting. Are people going to like it? Is it even worth sharing? What if no one likes it?
Removing the like button altogether can remove the stress associated with posting. There will be no pressure to organize your messages. It doesn’t matter if people like them, because there’s no way of knowing if they like them or not.
Bot Likes will not fake recommendations
Removing likes will remove the power that likes have. This, in turn, will negate the incentive to falsely inflate similar numbers by buying bots engagement.
It is a persistent rumor that many social media creators have got into buying likes.
As already established, likes help push your content. So if you have the cash to buy them, you’re basically one step ahead of everyone else.
It is no longer important whether what you post is good. Since you’re paying for bots or farms to like your posts, they’ll reach a wider audience, regardless of how good they are. You would have bought the quantity to make sure.
Removing the like button removes that whole side of social media – no more bad actors buying their engagement.
No Like button means less comparison
Sometimes friends share the same thing, but one gets more likes than the other. This leads to negative comparisons.
Having no more visible likes under a post is a great equalizer.
You won’t feel the need to check how many likes one of your posts got versus another, because it won’t matter. This, in turn, can cause you to post more, as the pressure to tweak your feed to garner the most likes will no longer be there.
You can share whatever you want and avoid comparing yourself to other people online or even to yourself and your previous posts.
The future of likes will probably depend on you
As with most things, there are pros and cons to having a similar button. It’s helpful, but it can also be harmful.
But what if it doesn’t have to be that way?
Many platforms today are toying with the idea of giving their users the ability to hide likes. For example, Facebook and Instagram already allow users who wish to avoid seeing similar counts to hide them. But, of course, those who deal with them are free to keep them visible.
It seems the best of both worlds – if you want to see likes, you do, and if you don’t, you don’t.
Choice is always a good thing. It’s the best thing companies can do: let users decide for themselves whether or not they want to keep the like button. This way, each individual has the opportunity to weigh the options and choose the one that suits them.
User choice seems to be the best option
As similar buttons have functional uses for the platforms, but also many disadvantages, the user’s choice seems to be the best compromise.
For some users, they are essential. For others, they have a negative impact on their experience. Letting users decide whether they see as numbers seems like a good compromise.
After years of testing, you now have more control over how likes appear on Facebook and Instagram.
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