An Instagram World With No ‘Likes’ — How Does the Test Impact Advertisers, Users?

Instagram made a big move. What’s the official motive behind testing a social media world with no “likes”? The CEO of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, stated in the announcement that the test in the U.S. and Canada was “about creating a less pressurized environment, where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.”

Instagram made a big move. What’s the official motive behind testing a social media world with no “likes”?

The CEO of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, stated in the announcement that the test in the U.S. and Canada was “about creating a less pressurized environment, where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.

For all intents and purposes, Instagram’s latest power move has an alibi: The platform claims to be more concerned with the well-being of its users than with making a profit. Whether or not the company’s true motives are in line with reducing mental illness in its young users — including their stress, anxiety, and depression — the test has certainly changed the way the platform operates.

Diving into the many possible outcomes of this potential change is essential for marketers and Instagram users, alike, in order to best understand what to expect from the future of social media.

Whether positive or negative, the removal of likes has garnered opinions from the masses. Feelings toward the test range from anger to animosity to excitement. The fact of the matter is, likes have been a major catalyst in the way Instagram is used and success is measured, both personally and professionally. For brands utilizing influencers for promotion, likes have acted as a currency by showing how engaged an audience is, while effectively helping brands make decisions on whether or not an influencer should endorse their product or not. Without it, the marketplace will have to be optimized by these advertisers as they uncover what’s to come on the forefront of social media marketing.

Why Instagram Users Are Angry

It comes as no surprise that many of the users who are angry fall under the influencer and celebrity category. For many of them, Instagram likes have completely built their platforms as social media stars. Many of them uncovered the amount of engagement it took from early on and were able to build a fan base of loyal likers in order to gain enough clout to start being paid for promotions. It has been hypothesized by some influencers that Instagram doesn’t actually care at all about the wellbeing of its users. In fact, while its CEO claims the company “will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people’s health,” others are claiming that the test goes deeper than that, and is ultimately in favor of Instagram’s business: It has been hypothesized that this is being done as a means for control.

While influencers do have a home on Instagram, the brand deals and partnerships they forge on the platform do not currently have anything in them for Instagram. Thus, the removal of likes could make it so that marketers opt to spend their advertising dollars directly through Instagram, more heavily utilizing Instagram’s advertising tools. This begs the question(s): Why would they no longer go through influencers? Can they still get a feel for the overall engagement a user has? Unfortunately, because the metrics marketers rely on when selecting influencers will no longer be visible, it may become challenging to obtain real and true metrics, as these numbers can be easily manipulated if sent over from the source.

And frankly, for some losing likes simply means stripping down and removing their online social status, and they don’t like it. The measurement of likes acts as a symbol for popularity and fame, and many have expressed their dislike toward the change because of this. Removing likes will make it harder for users to determine if someone is cool simply by measurement, and understandably, for those for which Instagram has helped shape careers, this poses a threat to their success.

Why Instagram Users Are Excited

More obviously, many Instagram users are excited; particularly younger users and their parents. Having the platform to rely on for social status and humble brags has created uncharted territory in the adolescent social scene. Likes are the most obvious cool factor when looking at a user’s profile. For regular users who peruse Instagram as a social tool and not to create a business, the pressure to depend on likes as a means of validation, a measurement of self-worth, and a ranking of social status, could completely shift the way young users post. This feeling of “not being enough” if you don’t have the most likes in your social circle is exactly what Instagram claims to be tackling head-on with this test.

But this may not just be a positive change for common users; some influencers have actually expressed their excitement and support for the change, as well. As mentioned, Instagram has evolved over the years from a simple photo-sharing tool to a space where people are constantly trying to be the very best on the scene.

Many users claim that a major shift in the way Instagram was used happened when it changed the feed from chronological order to placing the most engaging posts at the top. The reason many influencers rose to where they were when this change occurred was because people genuinely enjoyed the creative energy they were putting into their profiles. When top-engaging posts were the first thing seen upon opening the app, influencers (and regular users, alike) had to evolve with the change, if they wanted to continue to get the attention they were used to. As a result, many sacrificed their own creativity by means of posting something less original that would guarantee high engagement.

For those who have felt the need to conform to the more popular style of posts, removing likes would mean they may no longer feel constricted or bound to posting things that are guaranteed to perform well (i.e. attract enough likes to deem them relevant enough for the top of the feed). This may allow for a more fruitful array of postings from influencers, celebrities, and young users of Instagram, bringing back into the picture a sense of creative freedom and self-worth.

What It All Means for Users and Marketers, Alike

Whether or not the test is here to stay, the statement it’s made so far has shaken many of its users, and most have an opinion. From regular users — particularly those in Generation Z — to influencers and celebrities, and brands that use Instagram as part of their sales funnel, the feelings of frustration and utter glee are certainly worth evaluating as Instagram chooses how to move forward.

B2B Influencer Marketing to Jump-Start Your Growth

One way to amplify your message is to amplify your audience. Of course, growing your audience in an organic and sustainable way can be a tall order. But you can jump-start that growth process by working with influencers who have their own audiences already. Here’s an introduction to B2B influencer marketing.

One way to amplify your message is to amplify your audience. Of course, growing your audience in an organic and sustainable way can be a tall order. But you can jump-start that growth process by working with influencers who have their own audiences already. Here’s an introduction to B2B influencer marketing.

What Is Influencer Marketing?

In a nutshell, influencer marketing is the practice of working with people who have influence over members of your target audience. The goal is to create content and partnerships that attract these key influencers and give them the opportunity to introduce you to their audience. These opportunities can be paid or free and can take on many forms — guest posts and podcast interviews, product giveaways and reviews, etc. The practice is wide spread in B2C, but B2B influencer marketing if also very effective.

Who Has Influence?

George Clooney. Matthew McConaughey. Most supermodels. That’s why you see them pitching everything from coffee makers to cars. But they probably don’t have influence in your market. Or, more accurately, they don’t have credibility in your market.

Also, their incredibly broad reach means they probably are beyond your budget, and can’t deliver value because most of their audience does not overlap with your audience.

So, for most B2B marketers, household names need not apply. The celebrities whose fees for social media and blog posting are five and six figures aren’t a good fit. (Though there are exceptions. Ashton Kutcher has real cred as a tech investor, so if that’s your world …)

Instead, look at the people who are celebrities in much smaller worlds, and who are trusted by their niche audiences within those worlds. If your target matches or overlaps theirs and your offerings are not competitive with theirs, you may have an opportunity to get your name in front of their audience.

How Do I Get an Influencer’s Attention?

If you approach an influencer with a pitch about wanting to get your name in front of their audience, they’re either not going to be interested, or they’re going to be very interested because they will charge you for the privilege of addressing their audience.

That’s fine, and in the end, no matter how creative your pitch, you may be looking at a pay-to-play situation. An audience is a valuable thing, and most influencers know this.

Whatever your pitch, it’s most important for you to remember that influencers did not get their audience by shilling; they got it by providing value to their audience. You have to do the same if you want to be taken seriously.

Here are a few ways to get on their radar:

To Succeed Long-Term With SEO, Focus on Relationships

While the word “best” is still a bit nebulous, Google is basically looking for rich, deep content by subject matter experts who are trustworthy and credible. To meet that description, stop chasing techniques and start focusing on relationships. Here are three relationships that can transform your SEO strategy and keep your rankings high.

As Google algorithms continue to change at a tremendous rate, it can be tempting to chase after the latest SEO (search engine optimization) tips and techniques. The Internet is full of conflicting and confusing advice, and trying to keep up can feel like a full-time job. To get out of this loop, try thinking of SEO in a whole new way. Google’s fundamental goal is to provide the best search results. While the word “best” is still a bit nebulous, Google is basically looking for rich, deep content by subject matter experts who are trustworthy and credible. To meet that description, stop chasing techniques and start focusing on relationships. Here are three relationships that can transform your SEO strategy and keep your rankings high.

1. Your Relationship With Google
Many company owners and web masters have an adversarial relationship with Google. Yet if Google succeeds in its mission, everyone benefits, from conscientious business owners to potential customers. Look at Google as your partner in the quest to deliver the best, most useful information to your buyers and prospects. The more you understand Google’s mission, the easier it will be for you to align your website and content to rank higher in the search results.

2. Your Relationship With the Searcher
Building relationships with web searchers is at the heart of both improving your conversions (turning a prospect into a buyer) and boosting your Google rankings. The concept is extremely simple. Provide an excellent user experience from the moment a searcher clicks on your website. Deliver on your promises, describe the benefits of your product or service, present an irresistible offer, and use a clear call to action.

A big part of this is also providing a great mobile experience on your website. Today’s searchers move rapidly between computer, tablet, and smart phone, and they expect your website to move with them. Make sure that every web page is mobile friendly, and that your website functions properly in all devices. Pay particular attention to page load times, playability, and providing an experience on mobile devices that is as rich and complete as your full computer-optimized site.

3. Your Relationship With Other Websites
Ongoing relationships with other websites help you earn organic links, build referral traffic, and send signals to Google that your website is trustworthy. All of these factors improve your Google rankings. Yet they are not enough on their own. Increasingly, building strong rankings requires you to develop human relationships with brand advocates, social media followers, and especially influencers.

An influencer is a person with a strong online following, generally through a popular blog. Influencers typically focus on a niche market, and have become respected experts within their niche. Whether they are actual subject matter experts or not, they heavily influence trends and can be invaluable in spreading the word about your product or service.

To connect with influencers, search for bloggers that cover your industry. Drill down to see how active the blogger is, how many followers he or she has, and how active the followers are in commenting on posts. When you have a short list of potential influencers, start following them. Tag them in your social media posts, comment on their posts, and become part of their community.

Finally, reach out via email to the bloggers you like and explain why you think it makes sense to work together. Most will likely not work out so approach this like dating. You may need to kiss a few frogs to find your prince!

Today, SEO is no longer an individual pursuit. While it is important to continue to follow the basic SEO best practices, many tactics are giving way to relationships. Building relationships is not fast or easy, but when done correctly, it is a key factor to improving your Google rankings.