The motivation for such a drastic change was to remove the competitive side of using the platform, with the pursuit of likes and virtual popularity cited as a significant pressure for many people online.
Facebook (who happens to own Instagram) has confirmed that they removing likes from their platform as well. Not wanting to be left out, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has also claimed that if he could redesign the platform he would go back and delete likes altogether.
Why have they taken away my beloved likes?
Instagram claims they want their users to focus on more story-driven content, wanting users to feel less pressure about the number of likes a post gets. The hope is that this will encourage users to tell their story, rather than try to accumulate ‘vanity metrics’.
In addition to the concerns around mental health, there has also been a lot of talk about the financial benefits of removing likes. It would help put an end to the tactic of paying for automated bots to like content, meaning businesses will have to invest their money directly into the platform, rather than using a social proof tactic in an attempt to win an online popularity contest.
Instagram’s renewed strategy to direct funding toward advertising on their platform also applies to influencer marketing. Brands may need to alter their approach - paying an influencer to promote your products may not be as effective when their followers can’t see how many other people are interested.
What’s great is that the platform will be more accessible to small businesses as an advertising space. Start-ups and small businesses can avoid the risk of their profiles looking unimportant or illegitimate due to a lack of red hearts attached to their posts.
A recent survey has demonstrated that influencers have seen the number of likes on their posts decline, potentially prompting the Instagram algorithm to decrease the frequency that their content appears in people's feeds. The enhanced focus on more personal content means users are less likely to see posts from businesses and brands who post uninspired and impersonal content.
For any business with an online presence, it’s time to revise your social media strategy. It is more important than ever to create content that does more than simply accumulate likes. You want people to engage more meaningfully with content by commenting and sharing. At the core of this is building a unique brand identity - a well-defined brand provides the foundations from which a successful social media strategy can be built.
Content, content, content
How can you create killer content? Well, we’ve seen a big shift towards short-form video content online. Instead of taking the time to read your ad copy, consider impressing your audience with a captivating video and an option to click through to learn more or make a purchase.
You also want your content to be relevant and relatable to your audience - tell them stories and encourage them to share their happenings and thoughts with you. This helps explain why we’ve seen so many global brands focus on user-generated content. Think about massive global brands like Airbnb and Lululemon - they’re harnessing stories told by their customers to create a meaningful brand story and high-value, engaging content. Being authentic is more important than ever, as savvy consumers have become more wary of blatant and unsophisticated advertising techniques. It’s difficult to find success when your brand identity is merely an afterthought.
Track your progress
Using likes as a means of measuring return on investment has never been the right way to go about things - they aren’t a form of currency you can use down at the corner shop. While likes can be a vague indication of your ROI, mailing list sign-ups, clicks-through to the website and purchases are the metrics you really should be honing in on and scrutinising. They’re the metrics that are getting money back in your pocket, after all.
We’re big believers in data-driven strategy at BlueRock Digital and can’t understate the importance of continually tracking your campaigns in real-time. By always keeping a close eye on the performance of your social channels, you’re able to make tweaks based on real-time feedback to ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.