Big news– are you ready?
A social media platform has changed.
Mind-blowing, isn’t it?
Alright, we’ll hold off on the sarcasm there for a moment and get down to brass tacks. Instagram recently announced that they’re changing the way their platform displays “likes” on its images. The change was tested in seven major countries and has now rolled out in the United States as well.
“Whatever, Danny. Some of us don’t even use Instagram. Why should we care?”
Because today it was Instagram…but tomorrow, it might be LinkedIn, or Twitter, or some other platform where you do invest a lot of interest and resources.
1. HOW WILL INSTAGRAM’S HIDING LIKES AFFECT USERS AND BRANDS?
For the uninitiated, Instagram is primarily a photo-sharing platform (though they recently branched out with the genesis of features like Instagram TV).
Until recently, ‘Likes’ were the main currency of Instagram– and a lot of users learned how to game that system.
High numbers of ‘likes’ would bolster your post and send it to the top of the feed, where more and more users would discover and ‘like’ it. Users would gauge the success of their own photos or videos based on their like-count, and then compare the numbers with those of their competitors.
However, there were flaws to the system (which is what led to Instagram hiding likes). Aspiring social media influencers would pay others or use black-hat tactics to gain hundreds or thousands of ‘likes’ to push their content to the top. The self-esteem and ‘popularity’ of users, especially of younger ages, would be severely affected by the number of likes their posts had.
Peer pressure wasn’t exclusive to individuals on the platform, either. Many brands would use the ‘Like’ metric to contend against their competitors and vie for more viewers.
Instagram Stories and Instagram TV already hid their like-counts, and spreading the policy platform-wide ensures that those branches may see more attention from users.
Now with that vanity metric gone, there’s no more pressure to ‘like’ something just to boost its ranking…or your own.
Comments are still public, and in future they may become the main KPI of Instagram popularity. Fortunately, comments are far harder to fake than ‘likes,’ so quality should finally retake quantity on the platform a little bit.
2. HOW CAN MANUFACTURERS OPTIMIZE INSTAGRAM’S PLATFORM?
You might be surprised to learn that more and more manufacturers are getting on Instagram nowadays. In fact, even we hopped on the Instagram bandwagon!
It’s important to note that Instagram functions best as a brand awareness platform, not necessarily a lead generation platform.
Can you generate leads from it? Sure! However, the platform doesn’t lend itself to that.
For one thing, your posts aren’t allowed to include links to your website or landing pages, which makes official conversions difficult.
Secondly, you also can’t run ads or paid promotions. That means that if you want to grow your audience on Instagram, you have to actually post (gasp) good content.
That being said, Instagram is a pretty great platform for manufacturers because pictures and videos of the manufacturing process are absolutely fascinating!
People love watching those raw moments all about making chips and breaking a sweat and seeing machines turn a chunk of metal into something familiar. That TV show “How It’s Made,” was popular for a reason.
If you’re already making content for other platforms, it should be a cinch to add Instagram to your list. Extract minute-long clips of your videos to post! Create images and infographics with quotes from your blog articles and stills from your videos! Reduce, re-use, repurpose. Instagram hiding likes shouldn’t be an excuse for avoiding the platform.
3. WHY YOU SHOULD PAY ATTENTION, EVEN IF YOU DON’T USE INSTAGRAM
As we mentioned earlier, this change to Instagram should still be on your radar even if you have no intention of ever joining the platform. Why?
Instagram is not the first social media platform to make a major overhaul to its popularity system, and it definitely will not be the last.
Remember the days when the best social sharing tactic was to post your YouTube links on every platform? But that’s no longer best practice at all, because every platform came out with their own native video players.
Remember when Twitter’s character limit was strictly 140 characters?
Remember when Google Plus was a thing? Or Vine?
Social trends come and go. LinkedIn may be the best platform for B2B companies right now, but there’s no guarantee it will be the best forever. If they removed their ‘Likes’ or altered their paid ad policies, would your company crash and burn? Have you been loading all your marketing eggs into one basket?
It’s vital that you keep your ear to the ground and update your outreach strategies to accommodate these ever-changing social media platforms. Today’s big shift was Instagram hiding likes. Tomorrow…who knows?
Social media is constantly evolving. Are you adapting?
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