Instagram Abandons Likes Count. What Does This Mean For Marketers?
Have you ever wanted to post something on social media expecting your friends to see and like your update, but once you post, you hear nothing but crickets?
Then, as you scroll through your feed, you find your friends all getting more likes than you. You can’t help but feel as though what you say or post doesn’t matter.
Well, gone are the days when you had to worry about the likes you got on Instagram.
Recently, Instagram started testing taking away the “like” counts in several countries, namely: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand.
According to Instagram’s CEO, Adam Mosserri, this is an attempt to promote and improve mental health, after several studies have previously shown how social media has had detrimental effects on the mental health (of which, Instagram is ranked as the worst): “…we want people to worry a little bit less about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram, spend a bit more time connecting with the people that they care about.”
Mia Garlick, the Director of Policy for Facebook Australia and New Zealand, stated similar intentions behind the move, expressing that removing likes frees users from the pressures of posting with the intention of collecting likes. She says that the goal is mainly to have Instagram users focus “less on likes and more on telling their story”.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR MARKETERS & SMALL BUSINESSES?
This change matters for a couple of reasons. The first is it affects not just the users, but also the influencers and small businesses that use Instagram as a marketing platform.
Most affected by this change, of course, are the influencers. Influencer marketing has been a helpful avenue for businesses to market and showcase their products, by tapping into the unique personalities and perspectives of these influencers, as well as their following. Removing the like counter will change all that. It shifts the landscape entirely as it makes it more difficult to gauge just how effective influencer marketing is moving forward.
If the like counters go away permanently, it will admittedly affect overall engagement on the platform, just as Instagram itself suspects. Rather than liking certain posts because they’re popular, users will begin to gravitate towards liking content that they can personally connect and relate to.
In other words, marketers and businesses are forced to focus on their customers first, and their business second. In more ways than one, this is actually beneficial in helping businesses build a loyal fanbase. But it also means that the climb up the hill will become more difficult.
Kumi Taguchi, a host at ABC in Australia, talked on NPR about how this has affected notable people and personalities in media. Specifically, she talks about how some influencers, whose follower count is composed of bought likes and followers, have experienced a backlash since the change, particularly the loss of thousands of followers. However, Taguchi and many others (particularly online influencers) have expressed their suspicions as to whether this move by Facebook is truly well-intentioned, or whether there’s also some strategic or financial basis behind the decision.
SO, WHAT’S THE PLAN?
Social media and marketing are constantly changing, and this is just another change that seems inevitable. However, what’s important to note about these changes is that while tactics constantly evolve, the principles of good business and good marketing stay the same.
In the case of the missing likes, what wins out in the end, is producing good and relevant content. Now, more than ever, it’s no longer enough to just produce mediocre content aimed and targeted towards a wide audience. Rather, you have to be more specific in your targeting, aiming to create connections with the people that are the perfect fit for your products and services.
The best way to do this is to start surveying your customers. Ask them what problems they have that need solving, and then address those pain points in every piece of content that you produce for social media.
More importantly, this change signifies that the age-old maxim remains true: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The most evident and foreseeable problem with social media is that none of us owns these platforms. Should Facebook and Instagram close business within the next few months, businesses will no longer have any means of contacting their customers and followers. This is why building a client database is essential to keeping your business alive.
If there’s one thing that platforms like Facebook and Instagram can’t touch, it’s your client list. Now, it’s more important to stop building your house on rented land, and start building a dedicated and loyal following.