A recent article written by the folks at Zero Gravity Marketing highlights some changes being made to the way Instagram displays for users in certain countries, including the U.S.
According to [Adam] Mosseri [Instagram’s CEO], the decision to remove public like counts is part of a greater effort to “de-pressurize Instagram,” and make it a healthier, safer platform. Ideally, it will encourage users to focus more on the actual content being shared – not how many likes it receives. And without the fear of falling flat in terms of likes, users will hopefully feel more comfortable expressing themselves through content creation.
Now, we can all appreciate the sentiment of this. Surely, we can all agree that much of the marketing advice we see plays to some need to feel loved and fulfilled.
We all want these things. The problem is that so many find their identity in such vanity numbers.
In these terms, I find this to be a great—and truthfully, surprising—move by Instagram. It makes sense for this platform though, given the emphasis on personal connection that becomes so much stronger in a visually-driven environment.
What does this mean for those hoping to be successful using Instagram as a marketing platform?
Katy Gioeli, the writer of the article, weighs in:
Likes have long been a measure of success on Instagram – and removing them will undoubtedly shake up the entire influencer game. According to our Digital Marketing Strategy Manager, Ashley Gallicchio, the move is actually a huge cash grab for Instagram. “By taking away like counts, the platform is essentially taking away power from influencers and forcing brands to pay for ads,” she explains. Without public like counts, influencers will have to ask for more engagement from their followers through Instagram stories. They will most likely encourage people to leave comments, participate in polls, share their posts with friends, and more. Businesses may also be wondering how this change will affect their social media strategies. Like influencers, companies will have to be more creative in analyzing their data, which many believe will help them determine what content is actually working.
From my view, this means those hoping to use Instagram as a marketing platform will really have to be intentional and step up their game.
And the truth is, some brands may not be willing to do that.
In that respect, this may provide a unique opportunity for the strongest to survive. Those unwilling to change along with Instagram will inevitably trail off, and become irrelevant on that platform.
Or will they?
I actually think there’s another possible way we could see this change. Often, brands and influencers have a difficult time being personal on social media. They draw a hard line between where and how they share the details of their “normal life” vs. their “business life.”
But of course, we are whole persons, here! We understand that our real identity is bound up in Christ, and this allows us to be able to share various parts of our lives within that context.
So, perhaps the best way forward to be to embrace this change and treat it like an opportunity: Use Instagram as it was originally intended—to get radically personal with everyone, even your business followers and associates.
In the title of this post, I insinuated that there was a problem, though. Let’s ever-so-briefly discuss it.
Home Base Vs. Embassy
In his modern-day classic, Platform, influential author Michael Hyatt shares an important distinction between the place where all of your content lives (home base) vs. the place where you share that content and take it to others (embassies).
There are folks who have invested their entire online footprint into Instagram, who will likely be extremely negatively impacted by this latest move in the long term.
Don’t build your home base on someone else’s property.
Tools on the Internet are designed for specific purposes, and to misunderstand/misuse them can lead to disaster for your brand and potentially destroy the work you have done.
The reason is that these platforms have the right to change the rules at any time. Their turf, their rules!
One change in the algorithm can really be a disaster. (It can also be good, but change often brings more complications than advantages).
This is why, even in 2020, you still need a website.
We’ll talk about that next week.
To your success!