Instagram Likes No Likes. What does this mean for Aussie businesses?

The social media giant recently announced that it has rolled out a trial to hide the number of likes on a user’s post. The user still gets to see who have liked their posts by clicking on “and others”, however no other account can see this figure. The change has been implemented in seven countries including Australia.

The reason behind it?

“We want Instagram to be a place where people feel comfortable expressing themselves,” according to Mia Garlick, Facebook Australia and New Zealand’s Policy Director.

By removing the number of likes, their goal is to also “remove pressure” on its users. According to reports, the test also aims at determining how it will benefit the user experience by making them focus more on sharing content of things they love, rather than acting on the pressure of gaining a certain number of likes.

It’s a fact that social media influences our mental health. A 2018 survey from the Pew Research Centre found that about 40% of teens in the US feel pressure to only post content that had earned a specific number of likes and positive comments on social media platforms.

Considering these findings, Instagram has taken action to help resolve the issue by rolling out a few changes, including:

  • a new notification system to combat hate speech
  • updates on account disable policies
  • a new feature called “Restrict” to prevent bullying
  • and now, adding to this list is the “No Likes” test

How will the recent Instagram changes affect Aussie businesses?

The changes won’t have much effect on the way brand and influencer accounts (now called Creator Accounts) access their own data analytics. Instagram has said that analytics tools and other measuring platforms used by businesses are still able to track the number of likes on a post. However, social media marketers who use Instagram as their main platform will need to adapt. It’s no longer just a simple numbers game of “how many likes” and “how many followers”. Instagram strategies for businesses will need to be revised.

Humans are inherently social and follow a herd mentality, so if likes per post is a key metric you report on for your accounts, be prepared to see an overall drop and set new average benchmarks. The logic is simple – when users don’t see likes on a post, they are generally less likely to engage with it themselves.

How do we keep up with the pace of this ever-changing platform?

As a business owner, or a digital marketer, how can you adapt to these changes? Are you currently measuring your Instagram account’s success simply based on the number of likes on your posts? If so, have you considered different ways to measure your success apart from this metric?

This change is likely to stay. But don’t fret! You can generate successful outputs without having to feel pressured on the number of likes you get. Forget everything you know about Instagram post likes. Start paying more attention to your post reach, shares and clicks. These are metrics to identify whether users view your content to be “worthy”, and are key indicators of whether they will continue to take further actions with your brand.

It all boils down to how businesses will rethink the way they analyse data and the kind of content they put out there in order to drive a wider reach to achieve your business goals, and focus more on sharing content that drive sales, boost brand affinity and loyalty, and encourage user engagement in the long term beyond just post likes.

“While it’s a huge change to Instagram as we know it, it’s definitely not unwelcomed and it would serve to filter out a lot of ‘noise’ to ensure quality of content.” says Michelle Chiu, the founder of DOMIN8 Marketing.

“Instagram, social media, and digital marketing in general is a forever changing landscape. As a business owner or marketer, it’s just a matter of taking time to keep up with the latest updates, and being quick to adapt to new techniques and strategies. If your marketing budget allows, it would be helpful to gain insight from industry experts and specialist agencies.”

What do you think about the changes? How has it affected your social media performance so far?

Let us know in the comments below – we’re keen to hear about how it has impacted each brand!

Pokémon GO: Built on Collective Memories & Emotions

Having spent a good part of my childhood in Hong Kong, I remember being excited every Mid-Autumn Festival, because I would have the chance to go to the park and hang out with other kids until late at night, roaming around and showing off our awesome blown up lanterns attached to a plastic tube handle.

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It’s been a long while since I’ve participated in this especially because I moved away from the city for a number of years, but it has always been something I reminisce about every time the festive period came around. It is undoubtedly part of the Collective Memories (集體回憶) of all Hong Kong children. Ahh, the good old memories.

Fast forward to today, Day One of the launch of Pokémon Go in Hong Kong. Being the typical millennial that I am, I decided to explore the streets of my neighbourhood to do some hunting and test out the game.

Everywhere I walked were people with their heads down focused on their phones, some exploring solo, some as couples and some in groups of friends. In fact, when I reached the park opposite my block, I noticed that I was reliving my childhood moments from Mid-Autumn. Except this time around instead of lanterns dangling off plastic tubes, it was brightly lit smartphones attached to portable powerbanks. And the ‘kids’, well, are probably the same kids that I would have hung out with some decades ago.

As I was washed with an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia, this strange correlation made me realise one thing. The game’s success is built on Collective Memories.

For those that have played it you’d know it’s overly simple. Open the app, walk around until you see a Pokémon appear on your screen, swipe Pokéballs at it until it’s ‘captured’. Repeat.

The game’s popularity is not because of the gameplay itself, nor is it the graphics or storyline (what storyline?). It is because of the childhood memories of the the millennials, and the sense of nostalgia and belonging the game brings. I myself reconnected with a friend I have not seen for several years just because we happened to be playing Pokémon Go in the same park by chance, and I also noticed strangers on the street connecting with one another over the game. It’s the feeling of ‘hey I know what you’re up to, you’re awesome too’, and the ability to bond and be a part of this community.

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The result?

Within three days of its release, Pokémon Go attracted more users than Twitter.

As of mid-July 2016, the game attracted just under 21 million daily active users in the US, surpassing Candy Crush saga’s audience of 20 million and making it the biggest mobile game in US history.

Also share prices skyrocketed for Nintendo, albeit being a case of mistaken identity. But that’s another story.

Key takeaway for your business?

It is estimated that millennials will be spending $200 billion annually by 2017. So if you wanna be the very best, like no one ever was (please excuse the reference), you need a thorough understanding of their behaviour.

Pokémon Go is a golden example of how millennials consume products. They act on feelings and emotions. Genuine connections with a brand are more convincing for them than any sales or marketing tactics that they are targeted for.

So find relevance in your product for your target market, activate emotional responses. Be convincing in your communications, and build genuine relationships with them.

That’s the only way to catch ’em all.