Instagram Tests Removing “Likes” in US

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Instagram took industry headlines by storm yesterday after announcing they’re testing the removal of “likes” in the US. This announcement comes after months of testing likes removal in a handful of other countries. The goal of this initiative is to help reduce anxiety and social pressure that is prompted by platform usage. While we applaud and support any initiative to help mental health, we appreciate that this change might shift anxiety from consumers to marketers.

Marketers frequently validate the success of influencer content by engagements, total likes and comments on a post. On Instagram, the lion’s share of engagements typically comes from likes so the removal of them presents a fundamental question for marketers: how do I measure success if I can’t track likes?

Marketers Must Adapt & Shift Focus

Likes may be easy to measure and serve as a nice pulse-check, but if Instagram removes them permanently from all user accounts, marketers will have to adapt their strategy. Without likes, the focus should shift away from likes and shift to what some would argue as more impactful metrics like comments, time spent on platform, views, and actual sales. Consumers like to be heard and the shift may actually help “likers” convert to “commenters” and be a new voice in the discussion, providing more perspectives and fodder for greater dialogue. This creates opportunity for marketers to leverage influencers as true conversation leaders who can provide invaluable insights into consumers’ thoughts and wants.

More Engaging Content for Consumers

In order to drive more comments, marketers will need to create richer content with meaningful CTAs that warrants the higher-barrier engagement. Consumers should expect to see more personalized stories that heightens their day-to-day lives, triggers FOMO (in a good way), or educates them – amounting to stories they believe in and need to act on, not just consume passively. The content will have to speak for itself to change minds and drive action, or you know, influence.

Stronger Partnerships Between Marketers & Influencers

Now that communities are going to be more conversation-driven, and thus more intimate, there will be even more reason for marketers to leverage influencers as taste makers and community leaders. By asking influencers to do more than simply sharing one-off sponsored content on their channels (been there, done that!) Influencers must be presented opportunities that entwine the influencer into the brand’s DNA.

This can come in many forms, but it’s time for marketers to think outside of the box and challenge themselves to bring influencers into the mix earlier for strategic support. The good news is that we know this is happening – check out our recent “Now and Next of Influencer Marketing” report that shares how marketers are changing the ways they’re integrating influencers in 2020.

November 11, 2019
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