Instagram has made public the number of times a post is shared—a metric that previously brands and creators could only see on the platform’s backend—indicating the growing importance of sharing as a success metric.

Adweek and several other sources noticed the metric appearing alongside the paper plane share icon earlier this year, with one source noticing public share counts as early as August. Other sources say the feature is not yet visible on their accounts.

In March, a creator economy newsletter written by Lindsey Gamble, associate director of influencer innovation at influencer platform Mavrck, noted public share counts on Meta’s short-form video product, Reels.

Meta did not return requests for comment.

A screenshot of how a post with public share counts looks.Catherine Perloff

Many facets of the feature are still unclear, like what constitutes a share—it could be posting to the Story feature, sharing via a direct message, sending a link outside the platform or all of the above—and why public share counts are only appearing next to certain accounts. But the newly public metric is emblematic of a shift in social strategy away from likes and comments and toward sharing and building community, four social and creator sources told Adweek.

“You’re not paying people to grow the footprint for your post. It’s a cheat to media,” said Katie McDonald, head of strategy at agency We Are Social. “[Sharing] is the holy grail. You’re turning a participant into a brand ambassador.”

The growing importance of shareability is reflective of changing user behavior. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said on a podcast earlier this summer that teens spend most of their time on Instagram in DMs, followed by Stories, and then in feed. Also at play is the growing importance of regular people in marketing strategies, as word of mouth moves to digital and the line between customer and influencer blurs.

Boosting influencer content killed likes

Comments and likes used to be critical business metrics for evaluating the success of organic social strategy, said Brandon Perlman, CEO of micro-influencer agency Social Studies.