Instagram recently rolled out its latest test, and it’s affecting a crucial component of the social media network – namely, ‘Likes.’ For just over a month now, users in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand have been unable to view Likes on other people’s posts. Concerns have been raised from clients and other brands alike as to how this will affect their Instagram performance. So, we thought we’d share a rundown on this new development, and what it means for your business.
Words: Adriana Thani
WHY INSTAGRAM REMOVED LIKES
Instagram has long been criticised regarding its vanity metrics based on likes and follower count. Some people report feeling anxious or depressed when their posts do not perform as favourably as their peers.
In the face of growing criticism, Instagram has made the move to remove likes from public view to remove pressure for users. According to their statement on the matter, they want users to focus more on the photos and videos that they share, and not how many likes they get.
Mental health advocates and many Instagram users have applauded the move, pointing out that more users will share quality content now that Likes cannot be used as a measure of popularity.
But still others are apprehensive about the reasoning behind the removal of Likes. Influencers have long used Instagram as a platform for brands to use them as ambassadors, and while the influencer’s personal wealth increases, Instagram does not get a piece of that pie. By removing Likes, Instagram will be better able to justify the use of paid ads for brands on their platform.
HOW DOES IT AFFECT USERS?
While your followers will not be able to see the total number of likes your posts have received (unless they individually count each person who has liked the post), you can still see your own likes by tapping on the list of people who’ve liked it. This may sound alarming, but if you consider the actual value of Likes to your brand in particular, you may find that it’s not an important measure of influence after all.
Instagram has been plagued for years by bots, fake followers, and fake Likes. This, in turn, has made Likes an unreliable and untrustworthy measure of engagement. Apart from that, the content being shared had started to all look the same – people were afraid of being unique and provocative, because that’s not what people are “Liking” right now.
Now that users are unencumbered from the burden of getting Likes, this may be an opportunity for you to get more creative, and diversify your content strategy on Instagram. A key focus on high-quality content, particularly organic content is paramount.
WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR BRAND
- Focus on Engagement
While many brands viewed Likes as a measure of engagement, the truth is that it had always been the least valuable tool in analysing engagement. True engagement requires conversation, and that can only occur through dialogue, whether in comments or direct messages. Invest more time in engaging with your community – you will see how much more rewarding it can be. We’ve written a more in-depth blog post on this, just click here to read it.
- Create Compelling and Engaging Content
As we touched on before, a lot of brands have gotten into the trap of only sharing content that is trending. This brings to mind the saying, “I’m unique, just like everybody else”. Now that Likes have been removed, take this opportunity to be truly unique. Create content that is different, compelling, and engaging. Be true to your aesthetic and brand image, but start thinking outside the box. Now is the time to invest in product or personal branding photography.
- Revamp Your Grid
Revamping a brand’s Instagram grid has always been a slow process when Likes had to be considered. Very often, brands couldn’t risk uploading even a single image that didn’t suit their grid or aesthetic for fear of losing Likes. Slow and steady was the way to do any big changes to a grid, and there was no way to just roll out a whole new look overnight. Well, now’s the time to do exactly that. Definitely curate a grid that still suits your brand, but feel free to try something new and fresh!
- Share Some Stories
Instagram Stories have very quickly become an incredibly effective tool for brand engagement, and now is a time to leverage it. Your followers and potential customers want to know what goes on behind the scenes, and they want to get to know you and your brand on a more personal level. Instagram Stories allows for real-time engagement, free from the obligations of keeping a top-notch grid. So share some less-than-perfect shots that show the real people behind the brand.
- Always Be Authentic
Authenticity and transparency are two social currencies that will never go out of style. Becoming a trusted brand isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes a lot of time and genuine engagement to develop a trustworthy brand with positive relationships with customers. Keep being honest, open, and accessible to your followers.
- Consider Your Customer
Now that you aren’t “Doing it for the Likes”, it’s time to consider what customers really want. Having a beautifully curated grid means nothing if your customers cannot relate to and engage with your content. Do some market research, and reach out to your followers. It can be as simple as polls on Stories, or a question in your caption. Ask them for their input and opinions – you may be surprised by what you find.
Need some assistance mastering your Instagram strategy in the wake of the removal of Likes? Feel free to get in touch and our friendly team will be happy to assist.