In today’s social media obsessed world, Instagram is taking a step back. The photo and video-sharing social network recently rolled out a test that alters the way users see likes. The total number of likes a post receives will still be visible to the poster, but will be hidden from their followers. Rather than seeing a number underneath a picture, the public will see “[user] and others.” Since the first announcement of this change, the update has been released to a select number of users in eight countries with the United States being the most recent.
When Instagram was created, the platform was a place where people could express themselves. Today, it has become a popularity contest where likes are a stamp of approval. Creators upload the content they believe will perform the best, rather than what they enjoy the most. The more likes a post gets, the better one feels about themselves and vice versa. With this update, CEO of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, wishes to change that. He hopes that hidden likes will reduce social comparison and inspire more creativity. If the test performs as Mosseri desires, it will become a permanent update for all Instagrammers.
This rollout may help users feel less pressure to curate the perfect post, but what does this mean for online marketers? Undoubtedly, businesses are concerned. Likes were used as a way to measure the success of campaigns and now that they are hidden, brands are afraid they won’t do as well. Although this is a valid concern, there is no need to worry. Instagram’s update can help brands be more successful than ever before, as long as they implement a few key strategies.
In the past, likes have been correlated with genuine interest. However, there is no way to indicate whether a person who likes a post actually enjoys the content or if they are mindlessly scrolling, like it, and move on to the next.
To gauge interest, the focus will now have to shift to conversions. These can include, but are not limited to, how many people opt-in to a newsletter, click a link, or purchase a product. Doing so will showcase what’s actually working, rather than what seems to be. After all, the number of likes a promotion receives doesn’t matter if no one purchases a product.
Connect with Audience
Behind every Instagram account is a human who enjoys authentic interactions. Brands should encourage conversations by creating enticing captions with questions or topics that inspire people to interact with their content. If someone comments on a post or sends a direct message, marketers can strengthen relationships by responding back or liking the message. Businesses need to show their followers that their support is appreciated and that they are being seen and heard. Humanizing your brand will encourage people to interact more, which can lead to product purchases in the future.
Before, smaller companies may have shied away from posting frequently due to larger businesses dominating the platform. With the removal of public likes, the playing field levels out. People can no longer compare the success of a business by the amount of likes a piece of content has received. Now, it’s about whether they enjoy the content or believe in the product. With this change, both small and large companies can do well, as long as they exude confidence throughout their Instagram content. People are less likely to interact with a post if there is a seeming lack of confidence from the brand. If the company doesn’t have faith in a product, the customer won’t either. Marketers should believe in their products and convince their audience to do so as well.
It may take some time, but hiding likes on Instagram could be a positive change for the online marketing world. This new feature will force brands to focus more on the authenticity of their content, but also the quality of the relationship they have with their audience. The stronger the relationship, the more successful a product promotion can be.
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