In July, Instagram announced their test of hiding ‘Likes” on posts. Instagram says the reason for the new feature is to have users concentrate on their posts and interacting with the app, rather than likes.

However, as Emily and Sarah Hamilton wrote in The Drum (090219), ‘The big question is, how will this affect a business that is purely built on social media marketing and relies on social proof? This is a massive change for business.

Likes’ are one of the most recognizable elements of social proof, and a former core element to engagement metrics of a brands’ social platforms. If not engagement, what social metric will drive business results at top? A new era is here. It will be defined by personalized content. 

More than just a ‘Like’ 

In the beginning, social media was a new way people used to connect. Over time, people started to rely on social media platforms more and more. As a result, business owners started to take advantage of the data to understand a specific audience to create strategies to market their products on social media. Today, social media has become one of the most important aspects of digital marketing.

When you think about successful social media content, you are probably already thinking of the generic metrics like the number of ‘Likes’ you get. The number of ‘Likes’ a post receives helped brands to determine how engaged their followers were, what worked and what didn’t.

The number of double-taps can be considered as an acknowledgement. However, today’s social media users want to interact with brands on a more personalized level, which includes much more than just a ‘Like’.

Opportunity from customers 

The biggest marketing channel has always been social media. This us how you can connect with the target audience immediately through social media. One has constantly engaged with and listened to the customers on social media to create content they love and want to share. By engaging with your customers, you can see what was working through views, ‘Likes’ and audience reach.

Now, with Instagram, brands need to think differently to stand out and position themselves in the ever-changing competitive environment. This is where personalized content comes into play’, say the Hamiltons. ‘In the digital marketing space, personalization is critical when it comes to capturing the attention of your audience.

Today, consumers want to interact with brands on a more personal level and be treated as individuals. Content that is meaningful for your audience can help build social engagement, which can result in customers becoming brand advocates.

A community on social 

A community is where the sharing, influencing and passing on information starts. By creating social communities, you can talk with your audience to ensure that they stay engaged and trust your brand.

However, identifying and developing a community on social media starts with creating personalized content. As manufacturers and/or retailers, you need to see that consumers are growing increasingly accustomed to personalized content. This means that it is more important than ever for brands to provide personalized content.

Brands are lining up to be associated with popular social media accounts, and this high demand has created a whole industry of its own. Influencers are people who have a passion and aren’t afraid to tell the world about it, and they are becoming more and more sophisticated.

Their strength is in creating content, and the better content they can create, the more working together with a brand makes sense because they can create something consumers would like to engage with. Everything on the Internet is customizable and delivers the content your customers are interested in.

As this new era on Instagram has arrived, brands and influencers need to work even harder to deliver stronger content.

In a world without ‘Likes’, influencers would be pushed to create not only better content, but more diverse types of content such as videos and Instagram Stories. This change can result in a stronger engagement between influencers and their followers, as it could cause more reading of captions and more thoughtful content, in addition to the photos.’

Instagram user stats

Instagram now has 1 billion monthly active users.

The top three countries who use Instagram are the United States (110m), Brazil (66m), and India (64m). You can find the top ten list here.

Over 60% of users log in daily, making it the second most engaged network after Facebook.

Demographically, 75% of all users are aged between 18 and 24.

Thirty-seven (37%) percent of US internet users are now on Instagram.

Get to know your audience 

Social media personalization isn’t only about your content, state the Hamiltons, ‘but also the way you communicate with your audience. Success comes when it is based on collaboration with your customers. To truly make your audience feel connected to your brand, you have to directly communicate with them to find out what their needs are.

What type of content do they want to see? How do they feel connected to your brand? To move forward, acknowledge and take in all of the feedback. You can also use social media to test brand and product names, as well as price.

Instagram’s new era means as brands makers, you will have to invest more time, money and effort to get to know your audience on a deeper personal level, to further create content that grabs their attention. Furthermore, pair that with the right strategy to reach the right audience; that is what will earn brands…your brand…the best return on your social investment.

Having no ‘Likes’ will force the businesses to measure what actually matters: value, relevance and impact. This will most likely force brands to take time to build a community and not just fans.’