Industry News Social Media Marketing

Instagram’s ‘Like Ban’ Has Some Considerable Marketing Ramifications

Over the last few weeks, residents of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and several other countries have been using a different kind of Instagram: one where the number of likes and views on their friend’s Instagram posts are hidden. This change — now being referred to as the ‘like ban’ is a move by the Facebook-owned company aimed at “reducing anxiety and promoting mental well-being” for its users by shifting focus from the numbers to the content.

“We want people to worry a little bit less about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram and spend a bit more time connecting with the people that they care about,” – Instagram CEO, Adam Mosseri

This change is currently still being tested in those few territories, but it’s not a far-fetched idea that they may decide to eventually implement it globally. It may not happen soon — or at all — but I do like being prepared, so let us explore the world of Instagram without counters. What does it mean for marketers, and how do we thrive under the new regime?

Fundamental shift

While the move has some altruistic purpose to it, the biggest change is the almost indiscernible shift in the core operation of the platform. See, with the absence of likes, marketers have to look at other ways of measuring performance of their posts and campaigns. So instead of focusing on vanity metrics — number of followers, likes per post, etc — which are quite easy to fake, we will have to look at other aspects that tell us about fans’ sentiments regarding posts.

One source of gauging fans’ sentiments is the comment section. It is often overlooked compared to likes, but it tells you a lot more about a page than anything else. Notice how the pages that really connect with their followers often get not just many likes, but comments as well. Comments will tell you who bought their followers, who has an engaged following that is excited about each post, and who’s hardly connecting with their followers. Not to mention that they’re not as easy to fake.

This means that marketers now have to churn out more content focused on getting more comments than likes. Your posts no longer have to just look good, but they also have to provide so much value to your audience that they fell compelled to add some words along with the like they delivered. Instagram’s algorithm already takes engagement into account. Posts that get higher engagement in terms of comments vastly outrank posts with large likes and are generally shown earlier to your followers.

Success Metrics

A simple way I use to judge the performance of an Instagram page is by analyzing the Likes:Followers ratio of their last 5-10 posts. The higher the L:F ratio, the stronger the page. But L:F ratio is only useful up to a point, since as accounts grow in followings, their L:F ratios drop. Case in point: the biggest Instagram accounts (@cristiano, @kyliejenner) have a L:F ratio of about 0.8%, while average accounts with 10,000 followers have L:F ratios of anywhere from 15-30% depending on the quality of the content. With the like ban the L:F system might soon be extinct, but don’t worry, because…

I also like to look at the Comments:Followers ratio. Because whereas even the worst posts can generate likes, the number and tone of comments usually tells you much more than likes ever can. Pages with engaged followers are consistent with their comments, whereas non-engaged followers rarely ever leave comments. A good C:F ratio ranges from 0.1% to 0.0001% depending on the size of their following. A page that consistently does over 0.05% C:F is pure gold.

Post saves are another judge of success. People typically only save meaningful content, so keep an eye on that too. Although to be honest, there’s loads of other ways to track performance on Instagram: for example, customizing campaigns and tracking them to sales. If your company makes use of influencer marketing, give each influencer a unique discount code for their followers to use. Sales attributable to each influncer can then be matched to their code. If you’re a marketer sifting through options of influencers to partner with, comments should be your guiding tool.

Key takeaway

The like ban coupled with Instagram’s declining organic reach makes it imperative for marketers to create content that resonates with fans and actually gets them engaging with it. The focus should shift from vanity content and focus, to quality content that informs and educates and expands your fanbase. You want people to have a conversation in your comments in reaction to your posts, sharing your posts on their stories and tagging their friends, not just liking them.

The findings of Instagram’s test could bring some major changes, to not just their app, but other social media platforms as well. Mental health concerns over social media use have increased in recent years, and as the platforms get more proactive in tackling this issue, we may see similar moves by other social media giants in coming months.

instagram like ban

Are you looking to scale your Instagram and use it to make money? Talk to us for a free 30-minute personalized strategic session.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *