For some users, it’s already happening: the number of publicly viewable likes, views and comments of posts in the feed is no longer visible. Already at the end of 2019, Instagram announced the change – and this despite the fact that Likes are considered the “currency” par excellence on this platform. Nevertheless, they will (soon) only be displayed to the user himself. We look at what consequences this decision by Instagram may have.
Why are public likes being eliminated?
Officially, the paradigm shift is intended to benefit the well-being of users. Increasingly, the downsides of using Instagram are also being discussed by the general public. For example, the possible psychological pressure to live up to certain expectations or the addictiveness of the app, which is revealed by measuring screen time, among other things.
The joy of posting and sharing moments with friends should therefore come to the fore again – similar to Instagram Stories, which enjoy enormous popularity precisely because of the possible spontaneity of use and authenticity of the content. If users spend more time in the app again as a result and enjoy a more positive experience, Instagram will of course ultimately benefit.
More Room for creativity on Instagram?
Let’s take a look at user behavior on Instagram. Often, the hunt for red hearts results in reproducing the same motifs over and over again in users’ feeds. The phenomenon is somewhat reminiscent of the so-called Filter Bubble on Facebook, in which users are mainly shown content that corresponds to the opinion or interests they already possess anyway. Without the urge to get as many likes as possible, there could be more room for bolder content and creativity.
Where is the barometer for successful posts?
Bought followers and like-bots have been doing their thing on Instagram for quite some time. Therefore, more meaningful factors are already being used to measure success in influencer marketing. Thus, the interaction rates with comments, the number of safes, the reactions to stories or the user’s dwell time are much more relevant. They also positively influence the visibility and reach of a profile and posts. Many influencers know this, of course, and have therefore long since stopped just calling for likes.
New ways to engage users: Captions on Instagram
A useful strategy to keep users with your content longer is to include a detailed caption. Here you can already observe a clear trend, which says that for many users Instagram is becoming more and more like a blog. While the caption under a post still comprised an average of 142 characters in 2016, it will already be 336 characters in 2019. This year, even longer texts of about 80 words are expected. As a result, Instagram is increasingly becoming a micro-blogging community.
But quantity is not everything. The captions often stimulate discussion by specifically asking for the user’s opinion on politically or socially relevant issues. Service posts in the form of simple tips and clear information on popular top topics such as sustainable living are also popular. However, a dialog also arises on more easily digestible hobby topics such as sports or nutrition.
How should companies handle their accounts now?
Social media managers know that their KPIs go far beyond likes and followers, and there are definitely meatier metrics by which to measure their social media success. For companies, the same applies here as for the normal Instagrammer: publish content with added value and enter into a dialog or exchange with its community.
How do I, as a company, still recognize the true value of potential influencers?
Basically, the number of subscribers of an influencer should not be the only criterion for a collaboration. This was the case even before the Likes were abolished. Companies should now pay more attention to how the interaction under the posts looks, i.e. the comments, and first and foremost whether the persona and the content fit their own brand. If a more intensive collaboration should take place, companies should ask for further insights, such as the average story views, in an exchange with the influencers.
So even without public likes, it remains exciting on Instagram. We TACSYs will definitely continue to keep you updated!
Author: Sylvia Muschalski