Social media has been a huge marketing outlet for businesses today. How do we know if people are enjoying certain content? By the number of likes.
One of the major social medias, used by 1 billion people monthly and 500 million daily, is Instagram.
Have you noticed anything different about your current Instagram feed? If so then you are one of about 70% of Canada’s population affected by their test to remove the like count.
The focus is on the quality of the content, not the number of likes. Thus, only the account user will be able to see the count.
This puts businesses that utilize the algorithm of likes on their content for promotions in a different position. So how will it affect your business if it becomes an official change?
How Instagram’s Algorithm Works
In the past, Instagram organized its feed only by the time it was posted. The most recent could be found at the top.
In 2016, Instagram introduced a new algorithm that changed how user’s feed was shown. Simply put, the most relevant content was displayed further up in someone’s feed.
The factors that affect your relevancy to people are:
Instagram takes what users interact with and identify a trend between the posts. If you often comment on photos of puppies, then you are more likely to see puppies at the start of your feed. The goal is to identify what the users prioritize and show content related to that.
Instagram wants the content it shows users to be something users enjoy seeing or interacting with. The more interactions you have with others, the more the algorithm will recognize you as having a relationship. This would include things like comments, enabled notifications, direct messages, or tags.
Now this is not to say that Instagram showcases feed chronologically. Instagram does showcase newer posts first but not the newest. For businesses and brands recency is more related to the idea of posting when people are active. Paying attention to when your audience is online will help indicate when you should post so it will be higher up in their feed.
The goal is to give users the content they want to see most, right away.
Businesses Without Instagram ‘Like’ Counts
A ‘like’ is easily given. It takes no time and no effort.
This shift forces businesses to become more deeply invested in the analytics of their posted content. Companies need to figure out what actually works, instead of guessing.
Identifying what kind of content thrives is going to be key.
Finding what drives conversions and stepping into a more authentic path for your services. Look at other metrics such as the save feature or reach.
For businesses it may be more beneficial to focus more on comment engagement when working with Influencers now. Commenters are more likely to invest in your brand since they took the time comment on a post.
What Removing ‘Like’ Count means for Influencers
Many people have developed a large following and have created businesses surrounding their online personalities.
Companies then partner with them to promote their products. For those that utilize influencers for conversions, this may make it more difficult. A clear indication of the amount of reach an influencer had would have been the number of likes on an average post. We may not have this anymore, though.
For Influencers themselves, it may be more difficult to establish yourself if you haven’t already. Brand are less likely to choose you over someone who they can clearly see getting transactions.
It may give Influencers more creative freedom in their posts. Most Influencers feel they can’t post content that may fall flat in user engagement. If their posts lack that conversion, the brand may not work with them. Without visible ‘like’ counts, they have more artistic freedom.
Focus When Posting
Instagram is unique in that it allows you to showcase your products. This could be through photos, videos, and Stories.
This new system could actually allow you as brands or businesses to assess the content you are posting. To make changes that reflects what you wish to project to your audience.
By no longer focusing on a like count, it can allow you to narrow-in on content that generates more buzz with comments or saves. This can actually be more beneficial to you as those people are more likely to generate conversions and sales.
As Instagram continues to grow in size and importance (especially among younger generations), it’s getting harder and harder to ignore it as a marketing tool for your business. Like most other social media platforms, Instagram offers a business account option with additional features that help you create ads and monitor the metrics of who is following you and liking your posts. It may be intimidating at first, especially for small businesses and those that don’t feel they don’t belong to a particularly photogenic industry, but it’s worth it to increase your brand’s visibility, customer base, and community.
Here are some tips and best practices to make Instagram work for you:
First, you need to set up a profile, which is remarkably easy with Instagram. Make sure your user name matches that of your other social network platforms, and for your real name just use your company name. Also included in your public profile is your business’s website (a simple URL) and a 150-word bio. Keep the bio short and sweet, with a bit of pep. Include any hashtags that you plan on following and/or using a lot.
Don’t worry if your photographic skills are lacking, to get started, you don’t need anything more sophisticated than your smartphone. Some ways to make you account stand out? Try to keep a cohesive look, sticking to the same colour palette or filter for most (if not all) of your images will give your feed a distinct and easily identifiable look.
For businesses, such as restaurants or hair salons, it’s easy to find appropriate images that reflect what you offer and why people should become followers and customers. But what if your product is less visual (like, say, a marketing firm)? A good strategy is to post “lifestyle” type photos, showing what it’s like to work there, community involvement that your business may be engaged in, or even interests/hobbies that your employees share that are appealing and visual (like gardening, baking, or puppies). The last two options are especially important (and useful for all Instagram users) because they help you connect with others by liking and following similar posts to your own, which can increase your exposure.
Connect with influencers in your industry. These don’t have to be celebrities or even have massive followings; the most important factor is that they are highly trusted by the followers that they do have, this means that if you can get them to engage with you and promote your product or brand, you will have the seal of approval from someone who is respected in the community that you want to belong and sell to.
Like Twitter, Instagram utilizes hashtags to make posts searchable so it’s important to include them in your caption (and it’s important to have a caption that is engaging). There are essentially two options you can use for the best results: either using very broad and popular hashtags (like #tbt or #MotivationMonday) that are more likely to be searched by lots of people; or you can use hashtags that are more specific, and hope to attract a smaller, but more committed or involved following. Unlike Twitter, since you don’t have the same character limitations, you can use up to 30 hashtags, just be careful not to oversaturate your caption and make it difficult or boring to read.