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The truth about Facebook and Instagram removing “likes” from posts

By Kate Ellis

“Likes” on Facebook and Instagram are how many businesses gauge how their page is performing and the success of their social media marketing efforts as a whole. (More on that later.) But what happens in a world with no like counts on social media?

The rumors have already started spreading due to parent company, Facebook, announcing last year they were removing Like counts on Instagram. And more concerns soon flooded the news when Facebook announced they were testing making likes go away from public view on Facebook as well.

But before you start panicking, let’s break down what’s actually happening and why. Here’s the truth, the fiction, and what this says about the future of digital for businesses.

Since the launch of social media for business Likes have been perceived as a false currency. Brands and marketers alike desperately trying to show ROI have considered “Likes” as popularity. If you’re getting likes that must mean your company is doing great! Right?

 

via GIPHY

While it is true that likes do help you know that people are seeing the post and engaging with it, it doesn’t actually mean you’re breaking through the noise online and building a relationship with your audience. This goes back to something we always preach and practice with our clients: “Stop counting likes and start counting conversations.” Meaning, social media marketing is all about being social, i.e. conversations. And what should be measured is the conversations happening around your brand AND what that leads to at the end of the day. More word of mouth business, more loyal and engaged customers, more connected team members, more leads, more website visits and conversions, and more business generated overall.

Ok, soapbox over. Back to what this update actually means for your business.

What does this update mean for Businesses?

Before we explain why let’s first look at one very critical reason why Likes can be a bad thing.

On a real note, Like counts have proven to be problematic. According to a study done by RSPH and the Young Health Movement (YHM) called #StatusOfMind, it’s for a few main reasons:

  • Psychology of a Like: When a user sees a post is liked by many people they naturally feel obligated to like is as well. And while this can be a good thing for popular content, many have tried “gamifying” and cheating the system to gain more views on the post. And the more likes does not equal great compelling content that’s relevant to most users of the platform.
  • Emotional Issues: Social media has been attributed to mental health issues including depression and lowered self-esteem. Obviously, this is bad for users. And, it’s bad for the platform. No company wants to be held accountable or be the reason for someone falling into a deep depression. It’s a hugely negative aspect of social media.
  • Reduced Engagement Overall: When likes aren’t achieved people delete posts or are afraid to show up all together, reducing the real authentic and vulnerable side of social that does produce quality results and relationships and turns followers into true fans.

 

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As people clamor for clout, it’s turning into a real war on Likes. It’s vanity over value glory on Likes. People get competitive and they lose sight of what social media is really all about. It causes brands to measure the wrong ROI metrics and fans online to be flooded with posts with no purpose.

The real value isn’t to have more people liking the content. It’s about creating meaningful relationships with your ideal target audience. Meaning, it’s better to have 10 people engage with a post by commenting, sharing or engaging in an action versus 100 people simply liking a post.

Likes ain’t it, fam. Especially when it comes to your marketing.

 

via GIPHY

Stop counting likes and start counting conversations

Circling back to why Likes don’t mean much for your business. Honestly, how much thought does it take to Like something? Not hardly any. But to share something, that has thought behind it. It has to be worth it. I mean, people aren’t going to share any old thing. It’s got to be something meaningful to them, something they want to talk to their friends and family about!

Likes don’t build relationships. Conversation does. @NOWMG (Click to Tweet)

So, stop panicking about like counts and the possibility that they’re going away. (And, just FYI, brand admins will still be able to see them anyway. It is simply disappearing from public perception.) They really aren’t all that impactful to your audience. Instead, rethink your metrics. What can we count that will actually give us insight into our marketing? How do we know what we’re doing is actually resonating with people in a real way?

Some things you should be measuring instead:
  • Email signups
  • Brand mentions
  • Word of mouth referrals
  • The reduction of churn
  • Collaboration with others

These metrics are much greater in weight than a like could ever be.

Remember, social media is rented land. It’s always changing and could even go away. Your website is your home and the place where you have control. @NOWMG (Click to Tweet)

The true tell-tale sign that you’re doing what you need to be doing is your website. How are pages performing? Is traffic increasing month-over-month? Are you making it easy for people to connect with you so they can receive correspondence from you in the future? We’re talking email lists, people!

Once they hit your website, you need a way to convert them into a sales cycle you can control. Social media is just the beginning. It’s peripheral. You’ve got to keep communicating with them ongoing to build up a relationship with them.

When that becomes your goal, it’s easy to see that Likes really don’t count for much. It’s truly a vanity metric that looks good from the first glance. But if there isn’t anything to back it up, it’s not really worth much.

Really if you’re doing it right, you won’t see much of a difference if Like counts disappear tomorrow.


How are you counting ROI and metrics on social media? Let us know what you’re doing to count conversations on your social media platforms! Thanks for reading!

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