Over the last several years, Instagram has become a popular place to do business, with many businesses relying on this rapidly growing social platform as their largest online customer engagement tool. In addition, the growing phenomenon we know as influencers relies heavily on Instagram to build and command followings which they then monetise through brand partnerships.
However, on July 19, Instagram implemented a trial strategy for the Australian site which hides the number of likes an Instagram post receives from other users. Australia is the second site selected for this test feature, which was already rolled out to Canadian users in May of this year.
A change in strategy
Although users will be able to see the number of likes their own posts receive, the number of likes on another user’s post will not be readily viewable. If you really want to know who exactly liked someone else’s post, you’ll have to click through to bring up a list of those specific users.
The platform has assured businesses and influencers alike that the test will not impact measurement tools like Insights and Ads Manager. In addition, the paid partnership feature will still allow brands to see the engagement received on a partnered post. However, this change will mean that followers won’t be able to see the number of likes on brands’ and influencers’ posts.
The key metrics you will be able to track include:
- Post engagement rate: post interactions divided by follower count
- Impressions: the total number of times your content was served to users
- Reach: the total number of unique accounts who saw your content
So, why does this matter, and what does it mean for businesses and their marketing strategy when it comes to using Instagram? Instead of relying on the number of likes your carefully crafted posts receive to influence followers to be your brand champions, you will now need to rethink your engagement strategy and become more conversational with your audience.
What does this look like? By encouraging comments on your posts and building a more interactive community, you will create a more personal connection with your followers. The number of comments you receive on a post will be the only way others will be able to see the “buzz” that particular post is generating.
It will be important for you to create conversations with your audience within the comments. For example, instead of just a simple “thank you,” you will need to take the time to engage a little deeper. The objective is to create an environment of community, foster relationships, and ultimately build loyalty.
New challenges for influencer marketing
Currently, influencer marketing is about businesses partnering up with influential social media users who have large followings and asking them to promote their product of service. However, with “likes” out of the picture, how will you determine if an existing or potential influencer has a fully engaged audience? Yes, they may have over 100K followers, but are those followers actively viewing and excited about their content?
One recommendation is to start putting more of your energy into targeting micro-influencers. These influencers are social media promoters with a smaller niche following (typically, thousands to tens of thousands of followers). Although their platforms may have fewer followers, their posts often deliver more impact due to their higher level of engagement.
In addition, since they’re perceived as “average” and “ordinary” people (unlike hard-to-reach celebrities), audience members often view micro-influencers more like friends and family and, therefore, are more likely to trust their opinions and recommendations.
Say goodbye to automated marketing
In general, social platforms have made it extremely convenient to implement automated posts, messaging, and responses. However, now that you’re no longer able to gauge the performance of these automation tools solely on likes, you will need to again apply a more personal touch. There will no longer be a place for auto-commenting or auto-DMing to help you remain relevant and achieve a positive measure of success.
What this means is that your overall marketing costs will increase since you will need to hire someone to be actively monitoring your account and responding accordingly. With this development, you may find it more valuable than ever before to be active on multiple social and marketing channels apart from Instagram.
Instagram has since added several more countries to the list of testing which include Ireland, Italy, Japan, Brazil, and New Zealand. Only the next several months will give businesses a clear picture of whether or not Instagram will continue to be an effective marketing platform for them to use or not. Until that time, take the steps to broaden your marketing scope to include other effective avenues for increasing brand awareness and engaging qualified leads.
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