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How to handle your digital marketing now that Instagram is hiding likes

By now you’re probably well aware of Instagram’s decision to hide the number of likes received on individual posts. Since mid-July this year, Australian Instagram users have been unable to view the like tallies on posts that are not their own, a new feature being trialled by the social media platform that has been met with both kudos and criticism from influencers and businesses alike.

According to Mumbrella, Australia is the second market in the world to participate in a test to remove the total number of likes on photos and video views in feeds, adding a whole new air of mystery to scrolling through Instagram content.

Why did Instagram make the decision to hide the likes in the first place?

Instagram claims that the decision was made in an effort to make the platform feel less like a hive of online competition. Hiding the number of likes received on each post is supposed to lessen the pressure and insecurities that individual users and businesses feel about posting to the platform. In the words of Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, the company does not want its online arena to feel like a competition.

“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 they care about,” Mr Mosseri said.

Despite the decision being rooted in good intentions, the change has given rise to widespread debate in digital marketing circles worldwide, as countless businesses—small and large—as well as social media influencers attempt to comprehend if, and how, the new feature will impact their online reputation, and ultimately their bottom line.

How has Instagram’s decision been received by those who rely on the platform for business?

Prior to being hidden from view in mid-July, likes acted as a digital currency, a measure of what was hot versus what was not. For both brands and influencers, likes were also a way of gaining online credibility with followers in the increasingly cluttered realm of social media.

While some commend Instagram’s decision to make the platform less about competition, seeing it as an opportunity for users to focus on their creativity instead, others are concerned that hiding likes will change the way their products and services are perceived. Once upon a time, an image with a large volume of likes may have made your brand look pretty good, thus increasing your chances of gaining more followers and enhancing your engagement. So without this key indicator of what is hot and what is not, how will your clients know if you’re the real deal in your industry, and worthy of following?

The unfortunate news is that one of the most obvious indicators of your popularity is, at least for now, under the radar. The good news is, the hiding of Instagram likes has opened a fresh digital marketing chapter, one that could actually increase the level of engagement on your feed, in turn boosting your brand loyalty.

At the end of the day, a lot of likes has not always led to a lot of sales. Rather, it is the conversations you have with your followers that lead to strong conversions and attract new clientele.

Will hidden likes be bad for your business?

If you’re concerned that Instagram’s decision to hide likes may impact your bottom line, you’re not alone. However, if anything this is a golden opportunity to shake up the way you engage with your customers online.

In defence of their decision, Instagram has said that creators and brands should not worry about invisible likes, claiming that the change should actually improve genuine engagement. How so? By making the number of likes private, people will be able to focus more on the photos and videos you post, turning their attention away from figures and towards your feed. As a brand, that’s ultimately what you want.

How should you use Instagram differently now that likes are hidden?

If you’re already well-versed in a range of key Instagram tactics, you’re probably already well ahead of your game and unlikely to notice any difference to your levels of engagement. But for those brands and individuals who once relied solely on like counts to gain online cred, and to measure the popularity of services and products, now is definitely the time to make some changes.

Moving forward you may have to put a little more effort into being discoverable, but it will be well worth it in the end. To make sure your brand continues to get the attention it deserves, consider investing your time (and digital marketing budget) into the following:

  • Comment more on your own posts in response to your followers, as well as the posts of others in your industry.
  • Think carefully about hashtags relevant to your niche, and use them wisely.
  • Repost stories and posts that are relevant to your brand to connect like-minded audiences with your content.
  • Reply to stories to gain additional online attention.
  • Encourage your followers to share your content.
  • Invest in paid advertising on Instagram to target your brand’s key demographics.

Where can you learn more about Instagram marketing tactics?

From conception and design to campaigns to putting the message out there, we’re here to help you elevate the way you tell your brand’s story. We’d love to talk with you about unique, effective and creative ways to boost your social media engagement to ensure your message is received, loud and clear. Contact us today to learn more about how to keep your content on the cutting edge.