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Geometric Pattern

Hidden Likes, Hidden Opportunity for Brands: What to do about Instagram’s Updates

February 06, 2020

You’ve probably heard the rumors of Instagram hiding like counts – hell, by this point, you may even have witnessed it on your own account. The effort, adorably referred to as ‘Project Daisy’ around the halls of IG, has continuously and successfully been tested in several markets across the world – including Canada, Japan, Brazil, UK, New Zealand and, most recently, the US. With that, it’s clear Instagram aims to apply this feature to all users worldwide, but…when? JUST TELL US WHEN?! Ok, calm down. We don’t know when. But we have to assume this change on Instagram will soon be reflected in their big brother, Facebook.  

So yep, we’re in the Upside Down. And what does that mean for you, agency person or brand manager? Well, we think you should get excited, for a couple of reasons. Chasing likes has affected the mental health and self-worth of many social media users, and has single-handedly changed the way we interact with one another as human beings. (If you ask Instagram, that’s why they made the change. If you ask us, it’s because Facebook has a scheme to attract funds away from influencers back to ads manager, and this is it…but that’s none of our business. *Sips tea.*)

Those like counts have also caused brands to misallocate precious media dollars in order to chase “vanity metrics,” like Instagram followers. Over the past few years, likes have diminished in importance, and they’re just not as relevant as they once were in determining whether someone is interested in your content or not. That’s bad news for influencers who may have monetized their services through engagement, but good news for brands, in the long run. Here’s an example in action: 

Instagram Stories, a platform that directly ripped off Snapchat and exploded in popularity (well played, Zuck), are a great example of how we have moved away from likes as a primary engagement metric. Stories are measured by reach (how many people viewed them) and completion rate (how many people watched multiple frames). Those are metrics we can see, but they aren’t broadcast to the world – so we’re able to determine how well our content is resonating with our audience without getting muddled down in appearances. 

At SRW, we have long been measuring beyond likes to determine if a post performs well. Measurements we use to signal engagement beyond likes include: 

  • Shares, comments, clicks
  • Video views, watch time and retention rate
  • Community growth 
  • Total reach 

That’s a lot, and you’re busy. So here’s the TL;DR: Likes on content are no longer the holy grail for how to measure engagement, and that’s ok! What is actionable is measuring attention, something that changes with each individual person. Utilizing metrics beyond the standard likes helps get a larger, more robust view of how users engage with a brand’s social content. 

Take a deep breath, we’re gonna be ok y’all.