Instagram’s War Against Like Counts: What Does It Mean For Digital Marketers?

May 22, 2019 David Rivera
Instagram's War Against Like Counts: What Does It Mean For Digital Marketers?

Instagram has always been a platform where one can measure a photo’s performance through likes. But it looks like this won’t be the case anymore, as the social media platform plans to remove the like counts completely. Public testing officially rolled out in Canada last month, and Instagram hasn’t shared an update since.

Influencers and young teens are probably twitching their heads and thumbs, trying to figure out how to make their content scream out what it wants to be in terms of like counts and the metrics they try to hit for every photo.

But for digital marketers, this could be a cause for alarm—but not entirely. There’s always a workaround to app updates like this, and the good news is that it can now be easier for you to know how you can gain more relevance online and figure out new ways to reach out to an audience.

Chill Out, Removing Like Counts Won’t Hurt Your Social Media Plan

First off, just because Instagram will eventually remove the like counts, it doesn’t mean that they won’t matter anymore. The new feature will reportedly hide the number of likes to people who will see your post, but you’re still able to view how many likes it got privately. So don’t discount the likes just yet. It can still help you formulate new ways to stay on top of your Instagram feed.

But just as likes still factor into Instagram’s results-driven narrative, you’ll also be forced to not use these likes as a deciding metric as to how your post performs. According to Content Marketing Institute, “likes indicate popularity and may be helpful to reflect brand awareness, but they don’t do much more for your content marketing program.” Instead of using like counts as your key metric, you can measure your engagement and performance through comments made exclusively by other content creators and members of your target audience, shares to gauge how your post is well-received by your followers, and traffic from Instagram to a web page or site offers.

What to Do When the “Like Rapture” Happens

Removing likes on Instagram is a move that the company believes will encourage a more authentic way of using the platform—sharing good photos for building up the community and not a dick-measuring contest (which influencers usually participate in). That being said, this could necessitate the need to be more aggressive in measuring your post’s performance, or even the amount of effort you put into curating your Instagram posts. As the like counts fade into the background, you can expect other means of metric measurement to be at the forefront.

That’s why it pays to raise the bar as early as now. Do it way before Instagram officially rolls out the feature so you can know how to work around these changes. As mentioned, shares, comments, and traffic are the three main players once like counts step out of the picture.

You can also try out the “authenticity rule” that we’ve been preaching in the past few weeks. People are more inclined to respond to a Call to Action if it’s done directly and in a manner that doesn’t feel like it’s generated by a bot or auto-response. As the bulk of Instagram slowly gets acquainted with the like-less atmosphere, users are likely to convert their intangible “like” into something that everyone can see. These are your comments and shares. Content Marketing Institute encourages Instagram managers to ask your audience directly to respond to a post. It can be by creating a specific story that people would like to share an experience with, or something as simple as “describe your vacation in four emojis or less.”

By taking things a little more intimate, your audience will be able to see your post’s popularity through the response it gets from your genuine call to action.

As for the Instagram influencers that you might want to work with, you’ll have to set a definite endgame to measure the success of their campaigns. Figure out a new metric that would help you know how these influencers should deliver the results to you.

It’s good to see these social media platforms take a more personal and genuine approach to how one should interact online. It’s a change that welcomes positive and productive interaction, and it would likely become an advantage rather than a hindrance. All it takes for digital marketers is to experiment on new ways before freaking out about the change. There are lots of avenues to test campaigns and social media strategies.

But the most important thing is for you to know how to adapt your plans into the changes that social media platforms will roll out. After all, it pays to know your way around something that would ultimately be an asset for your campaign.

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