Instagram is a fantastic social platform, easily one of the top social apps I engage with on a regular basis. Whether I’m growing my personal brand or helping clients gain more exposure, one thing I’m always reminding myself is to not get sucked into the trap of focusing on Instagram “likes.” While they are a good indicator of how content is being received, setting goals to gain more likes might not be the wisest long term strategy.
What’s so harmless about this, you may be asking? Let me explain:
Instagram Likes Can Be Purely Passive
Think about the last couple of times you’ve scrolled through your Instagram feed. What’s it filled with? Posts from friends and family? The latest updates from your favorite influencers? In my case, since I’m a huge fan of Disneyland, I don’t go very far before seeing content from my favorite Disneyland photographers and enthusiasts.
I generally enjoy what these individuals post and more often than I’d like to admit, I’ll simply give it a “like” and scroll right along to the next post, all without giving it more than a second’s thought.
Have you caught yourself doing this too?
The accounts we follow work so hard to push out all this content out to us and once it hits us, we double-tap and scroll away in a matter of moments. It’s unfortunate but we’ve almost become desensitized thanks to all the digital content we see on a daily basis. The “likes” have turned into a “vanity metric” that might not always show that the content we post brings actual value. I’ll touch more on “value” in a moment.
Instagram Likes Don’t Always Equate to “Likable Content”
Yes, I’m sure your Mount Rushmore selfie is ???…
… but sometimes likes aren’t what they seem. While I’m hoping the majority of those likes are from interested followers, some may have just liked it due to feelings of reciprocation. A Buffer article I recently read went into the psychology of why we engage the way we do on social media. The author’s thoughts on “liking” content on both Facebook and Instagram fascinated me:
“Facebook, with more than 2 billion monthly active users is a great example of a platform where people love to like… (The “Like” button) has been used more than 1.13 trillion times, with that number growing by the day.
We do this because we want to maintain relationships. When we favorite and like each other’s posts, we add value to the relationship, and reinforce that closeness.
We also create a reciprocity effect. We feel obliged to give back to people who have given to us, even in a small way. We want to even up the scales…
… You see reciprocity on Instagram as well, where receiving a tag or direct message makes you feel compelled to send one back. And anytime you receive a like on your profile, you’ll probably feel a little pull to reciprocate in some way, whether it’s by sharing something in return, signing up for an email list, etc.”
In other words…
Have you ever felt this way before? I would be lying if I said I haven’t. It’s in our nature to give back when we receive something, even if it’s a small gesture. While those “likes” bump up the overall engagement count, there isn’t a whole lot of value equated with it.
Which brings me to my final point about “value”…
Instagram Likes ≠ Influence
The value we place on the number of “likes” we receive should be brought into question not just once, but consistently. The truth is, value doesn’t come from the number of engagements, but rather from the depth of those interactions.
What do I mean by that?
We as consumers appreciate authenticity. We’re more likely to engage with those that make us feel something. A brand or business that takes the time to create emotional connections and unique moments with its audience will keep them for the long haul. I think investor and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk says it best:
“We need to be focusing on how much value that piece of content actually brings your audience. For a consumer to get excited about something, to be compelled to click an ad or watch a video, it comes down to caring about your audience’s attention. And in order for you to win, they really need to consume it. That’s the game.”
So what should you do?
While making a goal to get more Instagram “likes” can be an okay way of measuring success, it should not be the endgame. It should be the starting off point.
As you grow, start placing more of a focus on actual conversions. If you’re working on a personal brand, one goal could be to get them to your website. If you’re a business, it could be a similar goal or something more specific like purchasing a certain product. Taking these actions will help you understand who your true brand lovers are and how you can connect with them on a deeper level.
If this is something you’re needing assistance with, contact our team. We’d love to help!
Commit Agency is a full-service advertising agency located in the Phoenix, Ariz., metro area that believes thoughtfully designed consumer interactions informed by a well-defined brand create moments worth remembering and sharing.