Is Instagram’s “like ban” going to be the death of social proof?

Should they replace it with something better? The Pro’s and Con’s Weighed in by Tack Media.

On July 17th, 2019, Instagram announced its newest updates to the widely popular social media platform. As part of their new image, users will now be unable to see the amount of likes on other people’s photos. This change to the platform is still in the experimental phase and has now been tested in two countries: Canada, earlier in May, and Australia, just over a week ago. One question we need an answer to is: who wins from this change? Instagram? Businesses? What does this mean for Instagram’s ad platform?

What’s the Issue?

Part of Instagram’s decision to remove the likes is based on information gathered and is something that isn’t new to the field of marketing. Influencers and businesses have come to a mutual agreement that implicates the number of likes being a metric of success for products. Instead of measuring success by the number of likes, businesses should have focused on firm marketing statistics, such as sales, information captured, actions taken by the consumer, and number of clicks on the product. Tack Media has been present from the beginning as a conversion optimization firm, with a goal of improving social media engagement instead of focusing solely on branding purposes.

The Mindset of the business owner

Tack Media is a full service Los Angeles online marketing company, a significant part of this business is focused on being an extended influencer Los Angeles digital marketing company. We partner with influencers to gain authentic perspective on brands, products, and services without a “Brought to you by” tone. Tack hears daily testimonials of how brands, startups, and business owners think about the “like” being a powerful metric to show the success of a post. When providing insightful metrics such as engagement, reach, and influence, business owners seem to be solely focused on average likes per post. We live in a “like” centered world where gratification is sought in the digital world of social media. For many businesses, this new like ban would mean changing the way products and brands are sold on Instagram. Many brands use their Instagram accounts for social proofing, or influencing the popularity of products by creating artificial or generated likes. For these businesses, the absence of visible likes could mean the dissolution of a brand perception or a severe decline in sales of certain popular products. If the “like” is removed, will businesses have a chance to recover? Is Instagram coming up with the next “like”, the next big thing?

The Mindset of the Influencer. 

After the statement release and current implementation of the likes ban, many Instagram influencers vowed to delete their accounts if the ban is in fact a permanent facet of Instagram’s platform. Many claim that likes are a valuable way to promote their image and, of course, the products they are contracted to endorse. We won’t really see the effects of the likes ban until the platform implements the change in all countries. For now, we’re stuck with speculation.

The Mindset of the Marketer

So, why did Instagram decide to hide the number of likes on a platform built upon popularity and vanity? According to Mia Garlick, the Director of Public Policy for Facebook and Instagram in Australia and New Zealand, it’s all about taking the “competition” out of posting. What will this mean for your business and it’s digital marketplace? With Instagram rolling out the red carpet for the new photo-like system, people have been questioning what exactly that will mean for their business’s social media presence. 

Tack Media’s CEO Kevin Tash explains, “One would assume the decision by Instagram to remove the number of likes on a photo will negatively affect a business’s online presence, if they are solely dependant on likes and these standard social media practices. Businesses look for likes to show that others are engaging with their posts, proving their product is relevant to their customers in their respective space. For a business, it is about being more competitive, agile, and creative. .” Tash goes on to explain that the blueprint of this new policy will mean that products will now be driven more by organic measure, and thus will disencourage the creation of low quality content, or fake like buying by businesses and more time getting creative in their messaging.”

Regardless of the personal indications, Instagram’s new like ban will affect more than just our own views of the platform. Once the new like ban is implemented on the platform across the world, influencers and businesses will have to rethink their social media marketing strategy. As part of a strategy to better your understanding of this new ban and how it can affect your business, Tack Media will be holding training seminars for all new and current clients in Los Angeles. Tack’s experts will define how to gain social proof through relevance, creativity, and authenticity. Contact Tack today to sign up for these seminars.