Why Am I Not Getting Likes on Instagram?

"Why am I not getting likes on Instagram?" A simple question with a not-so-easy answer. If you have found yourself asking this time and time again, you aren't alone. In fact, it's one of the most asked questions we hear from our clients. But why are so many people stuck in the same scenario? There are quite a few reasons. And honestly, it isn't so much about the lack of likes people are experiencing. Most likely, you are just receiving results in a different way, due to Instagram's new toolkit of metrics. While likes may be familiar to you, these new insights can be even more beneficial than a simple heart on a post.

When I take a step back from the scene, it's easy to see that we have been conditioned to find success through likes on posts, especially on Instagram. Whether you are posting to your personal brand or your business profile, it is hard to not find your social value in the number of people double-tapping to endorse your content. But if I'm being honest, I don't think Instagram likes matter all that much. Here's why.

New Rules: Instagram's Algorithm in 2021

Facebook and Instagram have both been shifting away from likes for a while now. In fact, many social media users don't even see the number of likes on posts anymore. With that giant update, the changes to these algorithms over the last year have made it much harder to get likes.

It is also important to note how popular stories have become on Instagram and Facebook. Users can't like stories, so that is just one more obstacle to measuring business success on the platform.

According to Instagram, six factors influence the Instagram algorithm for how it displays and ranks feed posts:

1. Interest - The algorithm favors content with engagement the most. The best type of engagements are comments, likes, reshares, saves, and video views. Likes matter, but not likes alone.

2. Relationship - Instagram shows users the content that they think is closest to them (for example: friends, family). As a business profile, it's important to interact with others to build the relationship so Instagram prioritizes your content. You can do so by:

  • Liking other users' posts
  • Watching other users' stories and lives
  • Searching for people within the app
  • Direct messaging with your followers

3. Timing - When did you post last? This is important to Instagram because they always want to prioritize the best of the best content at the moment. You can hack the algorithm by finding the best time to post for your business. This will increase your engagement, too.

4. Frequency - Are you on the app a lot? People who are on Instagram more will see a more chronological version of their feed. Your first feed posts are typically what the platform thinks you will like most.

5. Following - If you follow a lot of accounts, Instagram has more posts to choose from with what it decides to show. Just because someone follows you does not mean they will see your post. Try removing inactive followers to increase your post ranking.

6. Usage - A user can be shown all of the content they follow if they are on the app enough. Once they run out of new content, the platform will suggest different accounts to follow. If a user is not on a lot, they may only see a few posts from that day.

Instagram Insights: The Metrics You Need to Know

So, if likes don't matter - what does? Likes don't tell the full story on Instagram. In fact, Instagram has rolled out a tool kit to give us a better idea of what's happening behind the screens. These tools are better than likes because they actually tell us where a prospect is in the buyer's journey. A like is the engagement that takes the least amount of effort. Other metrics can tell you much more valuable statistics.

Here are just a few insights that help paint the bigger picture on Instagram:

  • Comments
  • Shares
  • Link Clicks
  • Bookmarks/Saves
  • Reach
  • Impressions
  • Followers


New comments on your Instagram post show you that your posts are working. People are liking your posts enough that they want to let you know! This is important because, from a prospect's perspective, this is exactly what you want to see. You also want to make sure you are commenting back to return the favor. This will increase your engagement as well, so it's a win for everyone!


Are people sharing your content to their Instagram story? This is a great way to see if your content is resonating with people. While an Instagram story is only up for 24 hours, if someone shares your post to their Instagram story that means it really resonated with them. So much so that they want to share the good news with their followers, too!


One of my favorite metrics that Instagram offers is the option to "bookmark" or save a post within the app. For instance, I love saving recipes to my folder so that I can reference them when I need some food inspiration. Similarly, your followers and prospects may be saving your posts or videos to reference at a later date. This is more important than a like because it means users have found your information helpful and want to remember it. You may be surprised how many saves you've received on your posts. Go check it out!

Link Clicks

While Instagram doesn't give you a link feature in your posts' captions, it's pretty common to direct people to the link in your bio for more information. If people are following through with this process, that means that traffic is being funneled as planned and your social tactics are working. If you are a verified Instagram user, you can include links in your stories and ask people to swipe up to open the web link. If you're looking to take a deep dive into your analytics, make sure to check out your total link clicks.


Do you know how many people have seen your Instagram post? Now that Instagram has taken away the number of likes feature for a large portion of users, it isn't instinctual to like a post anymore. But, just because somebody didn't like your post didn't mean they didn't see it. And sometimes, all it takes is seeing something to recognize an opportunity.

This feature will also help you get a good sense of your brand awareness. Assess your reach to see how you can increase how many people see your post. A low reach could mean that you need to assess your hashtag performance, time of post, and the type of content you shared. These are 3 things that could unveil why your post has received less engagement and why it is being suppressed by Instagram.

The higher your reach is, the more impressions you will get. It means that whatever you're posting is working with Instagram's algorithm and is being seen by users new and old to your brand.


A lot of people are confused by the difference between impressions and reach. Basically, reach is the number of unique views on a post while impressions are the total number of views on a post. The same Instagram user can view a post multiple times, which is why your reach is typically lower than your impressions.

But which one is better? As a business, you will want to keep an eye out for impressions over reach. This will give you a better picture of your brand awareness by seeing how your post performed. If people are going back to it to view it again or seeing it shared in their feed by others, that means you are putting out quality content your audience is interested in.


This one is pretty simple. If a standalone feed post led users to follow your account, you caught their eye. I also like to look at profile visits when I'm looking at post insights, too. This lets me know that the content we shared was good enough to visit your full profile to learn more. Profile visits are also what lead to an increase in followers. It's safe to say, if you're getting more followers after posting new content, you are doing something right. It is important to note that your impressions may increase before your followers do, as not everyone will follow you right away.

So, What Does This All Mean?

While likes used to be of the utmost importance on Instagram, the platform is evolving and so must we. I hope you are able to use these new metrics to find fresh ways to evaluate your marketing efforts. If you still think you need help turning Social Into Sales, we'd love to help you develop a successful marketing plan to dominate on Instagram.

Want to learn more? Click HERE to schedule a free consultation with one of our Instagram experts!


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