In July, Instagram announced that it is using Australia as one of its test audiences to remove likes from the platform.
And while the world of influencers went mad, our focus is more on how this is going to impact small businesses like yourselves who are using Instagram to gain traction for your brand.
So here’s a bit more information about what the trial involves, and how you should be using Instagram moving forward.
Why has Instagram removed likes?
In a post from the platform themselves, Instagram said:
“We want your friends to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.”
Like Facebook, who happen to own Instagram, Insta are now focusing on the content and engagement of your posts. And while likes can be measured as a form of engagement, they’re more of a vanity metric than the more genuine impact of comments.
It is important to note however that removing likes is still in its trial phase. The chances are, if it makes more money for Instagram, then likes will be gone for good. But for now, let’s take a look at what you can do in the meantime.
Can I still see my likes?
As a business, if you have insights set up on Instagram you’ll still be able to see your own likes. This means you can still track your likes, comments, and other metrics as you would in the past. So you don’t need to think of new ways to measure what is or isn’t working on Instagram for you.
What you won’t be able to see are the likes on other accounts, including your friends, family, or even competitors. These will instead appear as ‘your friend and others’ have liked the image, but you won’t be able to see how many others there are.
What you should focus on for your business
With the removal of likes, it does mean that Instagram’s algorithm is going to be focusing on different things. Here are our tips on where you should focus your efforts if you are using Instagram as an active selling or branding tool.
Focus on your content
Removing likes means that users will now be engaging with a post not because others have done so in the past, but because they really align with it. Creating good quality content, using high res images, writing engaging captions and being unique are all going to hold you in good stead here.
With less of a focus on vanity metrics don’t worry about whether your post is going to get enough likes and how many posts you’re putting up. Focus instead on quality over quantity.
Engage, engage, engage
Comments are now the only metric that users can see on an individual post that shows them whether others have interacted with it in the past. Which makes your comments, and therefore your engagement, the one metric on Instagram you want to focus on.
Engagement is already being massively favoured by the algorithm on Facebook and we’re predicting that Instagram is going to continue the same way. So make sure you’re engaging your audience with interactive captions, responding back to questions and comments on every post, and engaging outside of your own feed to introduce more people to your brand.
Check your hashtags
The Instagram algorithm has already been mixing things up so you might have already had to take a look at which hashtags you’re using. Hashtags are a great way to bring more people into your audience to see your post.
We suggest mixing your hashtags up with a blend of large hashtags and smaller hashtags to get different reach and hit more relevant audiences, without being too niche.
Experiment with ads
One benefit of removing likes is that small businesses and advertising may now work more in favour of small businesses. This has copped a bit of speculation from those in the digital media, with many speculating that this is the real reason Instagram is trialling removing likes. To make more money.
Regardless, if you’ve thought of advertising on Instagram before now could be a good time to test it out. Like with any paid advertising, make sure you’re keeping an eye on your stats, your ROI, and testing different ad copy or images.
Also, make sure you’re not advertising on Instagram for the sake of it. If it doesn’t convert as well as your other paid advertising platforms don’t be afraid to invest your hard-earned money where it will help you more.
Continue using stories and IGTV
Instagram Stories and Instagram TV have not been affected by the removal of likes on the platform. If you’re still experimenting with these or using them to good success and engagement, then continue to do so. They’re great additions to your traditional Instagram feed and are a good place for lesser quality content or more genuine content that you don’t want to put in your feed.
If you are using stories also explore the Highlights option on Instagram to keep them in your feed.