It’s the end of social media as we know it and I feel fine

November 25, 2019

Have you heard the news yet?

Instagram has been testing out hidden Like counts on public posts. First rolled out internationally and as of recent, the United States is now seeing the Like count disappear.

The fact that Instagram is hiding Likes is a big deal.

It’s important to note that the Like count is not going away, it’s no longer going to be public facing. And as a business profile owner you’ll still have your like counts and other stats.

Instagram will still list the people liking your posts, but there will be no specific counter. And this is only applies to the public facing version of your posts. On the backend, you’ll still get data.

So it’s not all that bad, I’ll explain in a minute how you can adapt to this change and why it’s in your favor. But first, some exposition.

The move towards hiding Likes on Instagram is a way to level out the playing field. The engorged Like counts on posts have a way of creating false value. Like counts and followers are nothing more than vanity metrics. Just another way to feed our modern egos full of narcissistic pride by focusing on empty stats.

Social media should be a way to enhance connections, conversations, and community. You know, the important human to human stuff. It’s not a popularity contest.

Accounts with big follower numbers skew the platform, making it overly competitive. But for what reason?

Some people put too much emphasis on follower or like counts. Just because you have an audience doesn’t mean they’re listening. The ability to listen to an audience creates real influence.

Follower and Like counts are vanity metrics. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to buy followers and game the system to get more likes. What’s the point? You’re creating a false version of reality with noting to back it.

Perhaps you remember the story of the influencer with 2 million followers that couldn’t sell more than two t-shirts. What does that say about the quality of all those followers?

What good are all the followers if the engagement isn’t there?

An audience is only valuable if they’re consuming, believing, and engaging with your content. These social media platforms want their users to stay on the platform as long as possible, because that increases the number of ads they can show. Which translates into more money in their pockets.

By taking away the vanity metrics that only pollute the culture of social media, we can now pay attention to what matters most.

Your engagement rate is where the gold is at.

This is where people are interacting with your content beyond a simple Like or reaction. If an account has a large follower base but each post only gets a handful of likes and comments, what does that say?

And what does it mean if a post has lots of Likes but no comments? Are people actually interacting with the content or are they just going through the motions of social media like a robot?

Social media aside, if you don’t have the undivided attention of your audience, you have no influence over them.

Without influence, you have no way to guide them during their purchasing journey.

By focusing on your engagement rate, you’re going to see an increase in comments and real interaction with your audience. It’s these elements of engagement that mean more to the platform.

Remember, if your content keeps people on the platform for an extended period of time, you’ll get rewarded with better organic reach and lower ad costs.

In the next few years authenticity is going to become a standard again. To capture the attention and engage interaction with an audience, brands need to focus on creating original, relevant content. Content tied into emotion, culture, or big ideas. Content that people enjoy and anticipate.

Don’t let other people fool you either. You’ve heard that our attention span is less than that of a goldfish. But need I remind you people will sit through three hour movies and binge watch an entire drama series.

The global film industry is worth over 136 billion dollars.

With a change in strategy, goals and expectations need to adjust.

Content is a long term game. It’s not directly going to drive sales (it’s possible but don’t hold your breathe). Get your audience to consume the content and absorb it.

An engaged audience is a power play in the world of advertising.

Grade the performance of your content on reach and interaction. How many people are seeing your content and how many are interacting with it? Is it a conversation starter?

The move by Instagram to hide Like counts is a step in the right direction. It’s going to force us to focus on a stronger strategy with better content and clearer context. Focus more attention towards creating customer engagement and excitement through your content.

Keep asking questions. Are you helping your audience understand a new idea? Are you demonstrating how a specific product or service solves a problem they have?

Here’s the big idea…

Social media isn’t going anywhere. The platforms might change over time and tactics adapted. But strategy will not deviate. It’s always about the audience. Create content that answers their questions. Show you care by listening. Don’t focus on you. It’s always all about them.