More than ever, people are spending large amounts of time on social media platforms. The global internet usage statistics suggest an average internet user spends 144 minutes on social media, with the time increasing every day.

On a personal level, social media platforms like Instagram have made it easier to communicate and share messages, pictures, audios, and videos. From a commercial perspective, businesses are able to elevate their brand awareness, reach global markets, and increase the customer base.

Despite all the benefits of sharing on social media, Instagram, one of the most widely used social media platforms implemented the radical change of hiding likes. 

In this article, we are going to look at how this change will affect Social Media Marketing. We are also going to explore other metrics you can use to track the performance of your Instagram Marketing.

Brief Overview of Instagram

Originally created in 2010, Instagram was used as a check-in mobile app for the then users. From a handful of users, this photo and video sharing platform has grown to become what it is today. This monumental growth led to the acquisition of Instagram by Facebook for a whopping $1 billion in 2012.

According to a study published by DreamGrow, Instagram is the third most popular social media platform after Facebook and YouTube, boasting over 1B active users.

One of the major reasons why many people—especially Generation Z— prefer using Instagram over other platforms is that it fosters friendship and community relationships at large. According to the Taking Stock With Teens survey, 56% of Instagram users interviewed said that Instagram made them feel more connected to people they know personally. The same survey established that 52% of the respondents felt that Instagram gave them a sense of belonging to the community. As a brand, this is particularly important as it allows you to tap into those sentiments by posting images and videos that showcase roots to a particular community.

So, why did Instagram start hiding likes?

In late 2019, Instagram’s CEO Adam Mosseri confirmed to the world that they would roll out a feature that hides the number of likes. Although this feature was first piloted for U.S. users, it has since been rolled out to other countries like Canada, Japan, Ireland, and Australia. 

And to say the least, this announcement elicited a lot of controversy, with most calling it a cunning maneuver, but a much welcome consideration to some. For instance, Rap artist Nicki Minaj indicated that she would quit Instagram if they implemented this option. Kim Kardashian West, on the other hand, did indicate that taking away the likes would help improve the mental health of users, given that most people are obsessed with the number of likes they get.

Which brings us to why Instagram implemented this policy… 

Well, the main reason for hiding likes on Instagram boils down to the negative publicity that social media has been associated with due to its adverse effects on mental health. While it may help connect with family and friends, social media has also become a global platform for racism, hate speech, and cyber-bullying, especially amongst teens.

According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, 34% of teens in the US have experienced some form of cyberbullying with mean comments, online rumors, and sexual remarks taking center stage. But as it turns out, everyday users, especially those in America simply don’t care about this move on a personal level. According to a new survey from The Manifest, 55% of surveyed Instagram users don’t care about the decision, 20% supported the decision, while 25% opposed the decision. As to the influencers, the consequences may be dire because they rely on their likes count.

Effects of Instagram Hiding ‘Likes’ on Marketing and How Brands Should Adopt

When it comes to businesses, the opinion about the hiding of likes on Instagram is pretty divided.  Some experts claim that this new feature shouldn’t affect a business’s B2B Social Media Marketing on Instagram, especially if they solely rely on the platform to market their products or services. However, according to Ben Arnold, the Managing Director of We Are Social, this change will affect most marketers in two critical ways. First, finding it hard to identify influential content producers. Second, more difficulty measuring the effectiveness of their content. 

Since most brands are too busy chasing likes and prioritizing superficial metrics over creating genuine relationships and meaningful content, hiding of likes may significantly affect the effective search of influencers. To adapt, B2B brands should ditch using “likes” as the only parameter of identifying influencers and re-examine the exchange value of what they offer customers. A more balanced exchange is more beneficial as it drives the true values of the brand.

Alternative Instagram Tracking Metrics That Are Better Than Likes

Likes have always been among the highest standing in terms of performance metrics on Instagram. However, there are multiple other ways to track the performance of your SMM, including;

Follower Growth Rate

One of the best alternative tracking metrics is the follower growth rate. It gives a detailed account of whether a particular brand is expanding its reach on a platform. Simply put, the changes in follower count are actually more important than the actual follower count when it comes to evaluating Instagram’s performance.

For instance, if you start with 1,000 followers in a particular month and get 200 new followers in the same month, it means your monthly growth rate is 20% – which is excellent. On the other hand, an account with 10,000 followers that gets 200 new followers is looking at a growth rate of 2%, which isn’t nearly as impressive.

Engagement Per Follower

It’s estimated that people don’t see up to 70% of posts on their Instagram feeds. This means that if your followers don’t see your posts, they aren’t bringing any new business. However, with Instagram’s updated algorithm, you can track engagements per follower to see what individual customers are interested in.

This metric is particularly important if you’re looking to partner with an influencer. It prevents you from paying for sponsored posts on their account if they don’t have tangible engagements.

Website Traffic

Just like any other social media channels, Instagram is a powerful vehicle for driving traffic to your website even though the platform is constrained because you can’t add clickable links to posts.

However, the new Instagram Stories feature for verified users allows the user to add links, which in turn drives more traffic to their site. And with other tools like Google Analytics, you can easily track all the website traffic sources.

Role of Django Developers in the Highly-scalable Social Media World

Django web development has been at the forefront of building customizable web apps. In fact, Instagram is one of the biggest web app with Django. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that most organizations are looking for a Django developer to create highly-scalable systems that can easily interface with social media platforms like Instagram.

The hallmark of this framework is the fact that it allows developers to build Django apps without much coding because it structure the information and ensure it is safe. Moreover, if you’re working with an Instagram API developer, Django comes with effective user authentication and high configuration models, which helps them scale and interface your app with Instagram, no matter the complexity. 

If you’re looking to build a customizable web app that helps manage and enhance your Instagram experience, Django is a great solution for you.

The Takeaway

Instagram is a fun and artistic outlet that allows you to put your business in front of a new and wider audience. However, with the introduction of the new hiding ‘Likes’ feature, most businesses will increasingly find it difficult to navigate the platform.

The key to running a successful Instagram marketing campaign as a B2B firm lies in creating a more authentic experience, rather than focusing on vanity metrics like number of followers and ‘Likes’. And with Instagram’s enigmatic algorithm starting to favor intentional, positive, and original content, it’s about time businesses start doing away with idyllic marketing tendencies.

After all, only real and authentic interactions truly help elevating brand awareness and authority.

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