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September 2, 2019

Likes on Social Media Don’t Matter Anymore. Here’s What Does Instead

Image courtesy of (Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee)/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Instagram is planning a bold move: hiding the like count from the feed. This idea is currently being tested in Canada and, if Facebook + Instagram history taught us something it’s that it will probably be rolled out worldwide soon.

There’s one important aspect to be mentioned here: Instagram will still count the number of likes received by a post. And its creator will be able to see the like count. It just won’t be public for everyone anymore.

In other words: Instagram may have had it with being the venue for popularity contests.

Remember the famous Instagram egg?

Image via The Independent

The egg got to be the most liked post in the history of Instagram by dethroning Kylie Jenner’s announcement of her daughter’s name – the previous Instagram likes record holder.

Now, whether you rooted for the egg or for Kylie Jenner, you have to admit it’s a bit silly. Sure, it’s fun and all, but when you’re on Instagram for more than celeb gossip, you’re probably not that interested in which star gets the most likes.

If you’re a social media marketer, you (should) care more about any other metric. You should already know that likes are irrelevant. 

Now, if you’re a regular reader of my column on SiteProNews, you already know that I have an ax to grind with vanity metrics in social media, SEO or digital marketing in general. 

What do likes mean for a company’s bottom line, after all? Do they help cover the cost of social media marketing? Or any cost for that matter?

Of course not.

They’re just vanity metrics.

Your analytics report may count them as engagement, but they’re barely that. They are the laziest form of engagement. A like can mean anything from:

  • Cool car
  • I agree
  • I agree, BUT (see comment)
  • I want to be noticed, too
  • The beginning of an unsolicited sexual innuendo
  • I noticed you

Of course, there’s no way to monetize either of these, unless you are an influencer – but that’s another rant for another day.

The vast majority of my agency’s clients know this. They know it because when they bought social media marketing and management services from us, we made a point of telling them that likes are vanity metrics and that our services are focused on ROI-bringing social tactics.

But what does that mean exactly?

Let’s take a look at the metrics that DO matter on social media.

What will matter when the like counter is gone?

Briefly put – actual engagement and attention. Some of the metrics that measure this are:

1. Following a page/brand

As a marketer, this is your first signal that people want to learn more about what you do. They may not be ready to buy yet, but you can get them there.

2. Comments

When someone took the time to write a comment (more often on a tiny display of a mobile device), you know they are interested in what you have to say. Plus, this is the kind of engagement that boosts reach, so don’t forget to reply to each comment.

3. Reshare/retweet/share

This is a great audience booster and the safest way to attract new crowds to your social media profiles. Most people trust recommendations from friends more than anything else, so they are more likely to follow your brand if someone in their circle of friends endorses you by sharing your content.

4. Clicks

As a business, you use social media to meet your marketing goals. When you have managed to convince a follower to change platforms and view your content somewhere else, you’re in the golden zone. They are close to buying.

5. Shopping

Ah, yes – the one metric to rule them all. Users can now shop on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and others without even leaving the platform. This is the one metric that can tell you exactly how much money you’ve made directly on social media.

6. Stories analytics

Stories are incredibly popular on both Instagram and Facebook. Their fleeting character instills FOMO in your followers. When you check your stories analytics, reach, completion rate and exits are the metrics that tell you exactly how interested people were in your content.

Wrapping things up

You don’t have to mourn the loss of the public like counter – especially since it’s not official yet. In fact, you should welcome it as an opportunity to focus on the things that really matter.

Take a deep dive into your analytics with your goals in mind. The relevant metrics differ from company to company. If you can map a certain metric to ROI, then keep on monitoring it. Otherwise, jump to something that really matters.


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Adriana Tica is an expert marketer and copywriter, with 10 years in the field, most of which were spent marketing tech companies. She is the Owner and Founder of Idunn. In October 2019, she also launched Copywritech, a digital marketing agency that provides copywriting, SEO content writing, and strategy services to companies in the tech industry.

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