Following an international trial starting in Canada in May this year, Instagram has now moved to increase this test to more countries including Japan, Italy, Ireland, Brazil, New Zealand and Australia. Starting today, this means you’ll no longer see a total count of likes against other users posts. You will still be able to see how many likes your own content has received.
Facebook (who also own Instagram, in case you didn’t know) have said that:
“We are testing this because we want your followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, now how many likes they get.”
Fair enough. I’m sure it’s great for the general public’s mental wellbeing.
But more importantly, what does it mean for your business?
Love it or hate it, I think the decision to strip public likes out of the platform is a positive. It’s following the ongoing trend for the Instagram and Facebook algorithm prioritising genuine and engaging content.
Put simply, if you’re posting content that users are genuinely interacting and engaging with it will be seen more.
Were you one of the businesses that posted an image similar to this to try and gain more visibility vs. the algorithm?I’m afraid I’ve got bad news for you. Not only is the 7% conspiracy not true, this will not help your brand. Granted, this one-off spike in engagement may potentially help to get this single post more impressions, this will not ensure your past or future content will get more visibility. Consistency and timeliness is key. Post great looking content that your followers want to have a conversation about in the comments. Engage with your followers in real time and you’re onto a winner.
Moving away from likes as a visible metric of success means genuine engagement becomes just that, genuine engagement. A passive ‘like’ as you’re absent-mindedly scrolling through a feed before bed or whilst watching the telly is no longer as valuable to the brands you’re ‘liking’. Public-facing engagement becomes a comment, or in other words an active engagement with the content. This is great, but it does mean we need to work harder to create bloody brilliant content.
This will force businesses to have to be more strategic in their approaches to social media marketing and to better understand what is actually working for their business. Likes have almost become a faux measure of success with brands racking up 100s and 1000s of likes, but often seeing little to no engagement.
You know my views on this if you’ve ever met me or read my social feed. Engagement is king. If you’re a business taking the time and effort to publish content on your social feeds it needs to drive ROI. And that 9 out of 10 times means sales, a visit to your website or a booking. News flash. A like doesn’t = that and even if you get 1000 likes on your post, with an engagement rate of less than 1% you’ll see fewer than 10 leave the ‘gram to head to your website and then even fewer again actually do what you’re hoping they’ll do. Put simply, if you’ve got shit engagement, there’s no point wasting your effort on social media. Seems a bit bleak now i’ve put it in writing, soz.
Side note. If you’re wondering why bother liking anything anymore, you’re still going to be served content in your personal feed based upon what you like, comment, save, share. So keep hitting like on those great memes and the cute dog pics you need to see when you open up your phone at lunch.
Great, I think I follow. So what should I do?
If you only do a few things, do these.
Post genuinely awesome content on a regular basis.
If you can’t post awesome content that looks great, use your stories to share less polished and more candid snaps of your brand or business life and remind your followers you exist.
Figure out what works and what doesn’t for your business. Look at your insights. Maybe carry out some testing. If you’re a clothing brand who has always posted model shots why not try some still life content – the results may surprise you. Listen to the data. Hard stats rarely lie.
Encourage conversation in the comments. Be creative with how you do so.
Engage with your followers as close as possible to real-time. Don’t leave it days. Follow up on comments and continue the conversation or just drop in a thank you or even just a cute emoji. 🦄
Importantly, if you’re wanting to support other local businesses. Make sure you comment on their posts rather than just hitting that little like button.
And before you go… Don’t forget to show love to your fave local businesses by commenting instead of just throwing them a like.
If you’re still unsure about how to maximise your chances against the dreaded algorithm, and how the removal of likes will affect your business make sure you get in touch. Or bookmark my blog, as a post on this topic is well overdue.