Instagram recently decided to become a “game changer” when it started to hide the number of likes a post received from followers and “gawkers”. I have been mulling over whether or not I thought this was necessary or if I even like this new aspect of one of my favorite social media platforms. I decided to take a practical look at what this change really means to those in media marketing – both brands and individuals who create sponsored posts.
Facebook-owned Instagram began testing hiding likes earlier this year. In August, Facebook said the Instagram test was meant to “remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive” on Instagram, and that Facebook was “excited by the early test results.”Related reading from CNET. Read more here
Today was my day…
Last Friday, I was one of the “chosen” to have my “Likes” stripped away from view.
First note…there is a lot of statistical analysis that goes in to social media marketing – algorithms, extrapolations, etc. Changes, as what is happening on Instagram and even Facebook and Twitter – means the “math analysis changes and for those who make a living in media marketing that can be a bit tricky to explain to clients.
But, for those who don’t need to know and comprehend the minutia of all the “math” – you know what? – it really won’t matter much. For example, today I checked my Instagram account and I could easily see my information by clicking the tab labeled INSIGHTS on my posts. My info was available and no ” data hiccups” noted.
The same was true for clients who I manage their accounts. Their posts and data also were safe and sound. Nothing was lost. No lack of information to show my clients. Promotions were still working. All was good within my media marketing world.
Here is a visual sample of a boomerang I posted
What was missing was the ability for others to view and compare LIKES. The competitive “edge” was gone. Ah… I could feel the snark drifting away. You see for years, and I mean years, I have had people “sneak peek” at my posts and compare “my results” to theirs. And, to be honest, I have been known to do the same. How do I know? They often blab. And, if you don’t know this already – very few secrets are kept in the world of media marketing. Why do I peek? Mainly to see if any of my created content has been “borrowed” by others. This happens again and again – so I need to keep checking.
Back to the marketing aspects … “Influencers” or any other label that describes a person working on behalf of a brand, tend to be the most competitive as their livelihood is sometimes dependent on the number of visible accolades (Likes). If people LOVE your post and have shared the love by making tons of comments or pressing the HEART – then that is very attractive to brands as they have recognized these behaviors as marketable. Meaning your audience and their behaviors can help increase a company’s brand awareness and sales.
But now there is no visible metric for brands to view how well your audience shared the love.. thus, . begging the questions – How can brands vett potential ambassadors by just looking at Instagram posts? And… What do the “LIKE” changes mean to brands and people who support brands?
There are several steps a brand can use to find ambassadors via Instagram – that may result in a better process than before.
- Search for potential collaborators by conducting a hashtag search. For example, perhaps you are a hotel in Utah and you want to entice people to visit. You can search Instagram to find people by searching “TravelUtah”. Or even more extensively add more searches, such as these two hashtags: #Utah and #Travel. The more searching, the more choices.
- Once you have determined that there were one or more potential “instagrammers” who had a profile that resonated with your needs – simply use one of the various ways to connect to them from their profile page. (Message/ Email options, for instance)
- Note: Brands also may realize that they will need to change the way they have been advertising using sponsored campaigns. Affiliate marketing, I predict (as do others), will become much more in the forefront and an increased viable option for marketing plans.
- Not seeing LIKES on posts also means that company representatives may need to be more vigilant with requesting frequent data and benchmark reporting.
Here is a visual sample of what I described above in my fictional example…
I did a simple search for #VisitUtah to see accounts other than Utah tourism businesses, but more travel bloggers or ambassadors. I found a lot – so I looked for the TOP ones.
I honed in on @SweetLittleJourney_ . Their posts seemed to check off all the boxes I was seeking – travel/ family/ adventure. Plus, their bio was great. Definitely worth starting a conversation to learn more about them.
Now for the “flip” of this scenario.
What if you are a person who wants a company (or several) to notice you and ask you to become a collaborator for sponsored campaigns with them? Here are my suggestions that will make Instagram hiding LIKES on posts irrelevant and you still able to make an “impression”.
- Have a website with a full media packet that has concise examples of your work, your metric analysis and testimonials. This media packet fills in much more of your “digital story” than any “like” button ever could. Use your bio on Instagram to direct traffic to the website. Your metric data should be transparent and included on your website or sent “by request. Making available your digital resume information helps brands to make an informed choice- the good, bad and ugly. Don’t manipulate data – just tell the honest story. Don’t forget to have a sound SEO component to your website.
- Be proactive and have interesting Instagram content that makes people want to search more information about you when they review profiles. Remember the lens can face both ways – so stop posting a ton of selfies.
- Don’t be snarky or mean – spirited. Leave anything negative towards another behind. Be kind.
- Post only what reflects you. Don’t try to emulate others just to get noticed. Don’t be a chameleon – changing your focus or brand – as eventually you will be discovered as “faking it”. For years I wanted my brand to be “educating others”. It was hard. Education isn’t a popular term nor “brand”. Everyone wanted lifestyle, etc. But, then I realized that what I did in my world of travel or entertainment also had “educational value” – that was my brand! By being more concise with my brand explanation and having clarity – I became more marketable. And while I am not a fan of calling myself an “influencer”, I accept that this term is mainstream – so I need to accept it. Frankly, I just want to be known as a “Sprinkler of information on behalf of brands”.
- Use great hashtags that describe and help with generating interest – but don’t be crazy with the hashtags! If your hashtag number is in the double digits and starts with the number 2 or more – stop. 10 is plenty. 15 is more than enough. 20 or more is absurd, in my humble opinion!
- Be open to affiliate marketing, event hosting or other ways to help a brands beyond Instagram posting and for you to generate income.
- Keep up to date with all the changes across social media platforms – Instagram and others.
In closing, Instagram should be a digital library of what interests the poster and their experiences. Also, it can be a conversation starter for brands that need to increase their chatter, exposure or launch something new. New strategies for garnering new customers via Instagram and other advertising techniques are happening – and the changes are just starting in the digital world.
But, at the end of the day – digital marketing is about building relationships and telling a brand’s story. “LIKE it” or not.