Worried about how to increase Instagram engagement? Social media circles have been buzzing lately about a proposed move by Instagram, and potentially its parent company Facebook, to eliminate the ability for non-account owners to see Like, view and reaction counts. While owners would still have access to this data, users would only be able to see a list of a few (two or three) people who liked a post.
What’s behind the Instagram like count change?
Instagram and Facebook claim that eliminating Instagram like count is an effort to reduce anxiety on the part of social media managers. When posts don’t get as much traction as they would like, it often prompts them to delete the post so others don’t see how dismal the response was. The idea behind the mood, according to Instagram, stemmed from their experience with Stories where only the account owner sees how views the Stories have received. This could potentially increase Instagram engagement while reducing the headaches.
While having a post go viral can have positive brand impacts, having a post tank can do just the opposite, especially when cyberspace trolls begin to pile on the ridicule.
As CNBC reports: “Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri has presented the experiment as an effort to combat the social network’s problem with cyberbullying.” He says that the hope is that people will worry less about building Instagram like count and instead focus on engaging with their audiences.
The change may also prompt social media managers to post more often as experimenting with new content won’t hold as much risk in terms of brand positioning. More posts mean more potential engagement. An increase in Instagram engagement also means a bigger audience. Growing a bigger audience also has the potential to generate more advertising revenue for Instagram and Facebook.
The move may not be so altruistically motivated as Instagram and Facebook are positioning it though. As this TechCrunch post notes, the move “could also obscure Facebook’s own potential decline in popularity as users switch to other apps.”
How to increase Instagram engagement despite this shift
Whatever the reason, the buzz points to a very important point for all social marketers. As Joe Pulizzi with the Content Marketing Institute has long warned content marketers: don’t build your brand on borrowed land! It’s important for marketers to build a flexible social media strategy that can quickly adapt to Instagram and other channels’ constant changes.
Despite this potential change, social media managers will still have ample opportunity to increase Instagram engagement. The entire landscape hasn’t changed, just the visibility of the value of that landscape.
Here’s a look at three ways social marketers can leverage these changes to their advantage.
- Embrace the change! After all, this move creates a level playing field for newbies and celebrity influencers creating more of a level playing field online. Historically, content marketers have placed a great deal of emphasis on trying to build an audience and beat the competition when it comes to share of social space. While it will still be important to increase Instagram engagement, and grow and nurture an audience despite Instagram’s changes, the pressure will be off to a large degree. Gathering Instagram like count is suddenly unimportant.
- Think differently about your engagement with influencers. Influencers are likely to be more negatively impacted by these changes than social media marketers. Without visible signals to the world at large of their celebrity, their market value may diminish.
- Focus on strong content. When it comes right down to it, social media engagement has always been, and will continue to be, about creating content that authentically engages with an audience. Despite these changes, marketers will still be able to do that, and they’ll have the back-end metrics to let them know what’s working and what’s not so they can adjust their content strategies accordingly. But they won’t have to be so caught up in chasing their competitors and matching their performance since their audiences won’t know whose posts are getting the most traction. Their audiences will simply know what they like.
Finally, consider this experiment and potential change as an important wake-up call when it comes to your long-term social strategy. If you don’t own it, you can’t control it. Make sure you’re considering the tenaciousness of anything you’re currently able to do on social platforms—those abilities may be here today, gone tomorrow.
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