Why Instagram Likes Are Disappearing: Advertiser Q&A

Why Instagram Likes Are Disappearing: Advertiser Q&A

Social media

For months, Instagram has been testing an option to hide Likes in certain international markets. Now it’s poised to test the waters in the United States. In an effort to rethink the potentially toxic, compare-and-compete culture that Instagram Likes can engender, the platform is taking numbers out of the equation. Unsurprisingly, the move has been met with questions — and some uncertainty. Read on to find out more about the change and how it stands to affect brands and influencers alike.

What’s Going on with Instagram Likes?

They’re going away — sort of. Beginning the week of November 11, Like counts have been disappearing from the posts of certain U.S. users. While the account owner can still see how many Likes they’ve accumulated, their followers don’t see the number.

Are Instagram Likes Going Away for Everyone?

According to Instagram chief Adam Mosseri, Likes are vanishing for “some” U.S. users. Although it’s uncertain how many users in the United States will be affected, it’s likely those individuals will be clearly notified. In other countries where the no-Like experiment was carried out, people were alerted by a message at the top of their Instagram feed that they were part of the test.

Why Are Instagram Likes Going Away?

The move is meant to at least partially address the downside of Likes: the inevitable comparisons that arise from people measure the number of Likes their content achieves. How do those comparisons make people feel? Bad, apparently. When the Royal Society for Public Health in the United Kingdom commissioned new research to determine which features of social media are considered the most toxic, more than 2,000 teens and adults responded, and Likes did not fare well. While “triggering” content was deemed the most toxic, the Like button ranked second in toxicity. And according to Western University Information and Media Studies professor Kane Faucher, removing Likes from public view may refocus attention on what Instagram posts have purportedly been about all along: engaging content that connects people. As Faucher notes, eliminating Likes “may improve a person’s self-esteem in such a way that social validation may have to come through substantive engagement as opposed [to] simply comparing ‘like’ counts.”

People can still Like content. As noted above, the account owner will still see their own Likes.

How Are Brands Affected by Instagram Likes Going Away?

There will be some impact. Brands can still see how many Likes their content is getting. But:

  • Brands often rely on number of Likes to measure the authority of the influencers with whom they work. That public metric will go away if public Likes disappear for an influencer.
  • Likes also provide brands market intelligence, such as when they want to assess the performance of content from their competitors or businesses outside their industry. Faucher, for one, expects that easily-viewed Likes will be missed by brands who rely on this type of numbers data when collecting market intelligence.

But as Ali Grant, the founder of Be Social, the digital communications agency, has noted, businesses will simply be challenged to explore other metrics. “There [will] still [be] access to the number of swipe-ups on Instagram Stories, click-throughs from the link in your bio, new followers to a page, and the number of comments,” Grant says.

As reported in The Fashion Law, there’s a distinct possibility Instagram will work behind the scenes with influencers and businesses, making metrics connected to individual accounts accessible. Will there be a fee for those services? Probably.

How Are Influencers Affected by Instagram Likes Going Away?

The response from influencers has been mixed. In an Instagram video, rapper Cardi B argued that inflammatory comments are more of a problem on Instagram than any number of Likes. Rapper Nicki Minaj has said she’d stop posting on a Like-less Instagram. But some celebrities, like reality star Kim Kardashian West, are onboard with the change. Kardashian West has said that hiding Likes would be “beneficial” to the mental health of people who use Instagram.

Furthermore, some influencers see the banishment of Likes as representing a freeing new chapter, one in which content can be driven by passion, not an eye to numbers or popularity. Lifestyle blogger Grace Atwood (also known as “the Stripe”), who has 127,000 followers on Instagram, told BuzzFeed, “I’m actually looking forward to seeing likes go away and get[ting] back to posting what I like.”

What Happens Next with Instagram Likes Going Away?

At best, removing Likes may challenge influencers and brands to bring on their A-games. “Influencer content will need to become higher quality, since users won’t be able to lean on the amount of likes their posts are receiving when a brand considers working with them,” Jennie Thompson, the head of social, content, and influencers for consumer public relations firm Frank, shared with PRWeek.

Katie Hunter, the head of social and influence at creative agency Karmarama, believes that ditching Likes can ultimately be a win/win for both users and brands. That is, people won’t feel stressed by the competitive nature of Likes, and brands will be challenged to “think harder about creative and what is going to resonate with audiences, driving quality over quantity from a content perspective.”

Influencer Caroline Calloway concurs. As she told BuzzFeed, “I’m the biggest fan of any tweak to social media that prioritizes mental health and authentic sharing. I think it will be a fascinating new chapter of how we all use Instagram.”

Contact True Interactive

Eager to create quality content in the ever-changing world of social? We can help.

3 Ways to Gear up for Black Friday with Online Advertising

3 Ways to Gear up for Black Friday with Online Advertising

Advertising Google

Black Friday is coming in hot! We’re already seeing an explosion of deals. For instance, Walmart has gone live with a wave of reductions and early Black Friday deals. Amazon’s Black Friday “preview” features a smart home device bundle deal. And not to be outdone, on November 8, Target celebrated “HoliDeals” with a two-day Black Friday preview sale.

As we discussed in our recent blog post, “3 Ways That Retailers Can Win During the 2019 Holiday Shopping Season,” Black Friday is more than a day. It’s more like a season unto itself. And as the examples above illustrate, more retailers are responding by not only extending Black Friday hours, but actual deals, beyond the day. As a consequence, advertising begins early, too, and carries over into Cyber Monday.

Don’t want to get left behind? Here are some ways to stay competitive with your Black Friday offerings:

1 Put Google to Work for You

Maximize the value of Google’s many advertising tools to showcase your Black Friday sales and your merchandise. These tools include Black Friday promotion extensions, which allow advertisers to get granular with specifics in their text ad promotions, without cutting into established character counts. And note that Google’s Black Friday-specific ad units, as distinguished from the typical promotion extension, will drive your ad to prime placement so that it shows up at the top of the SERP under “Black Friday Deals.”

2 Be Visual

It should go without saying that Black Friday means turning it up a notch with visual storytelling. This is a time to make your merchandise pop. Fortunately tools exist to make it easier on platforms such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Instagram.

As we’ve noted, Google’s Showcase Shopping Ads take a common-sense approach to advertising. Using Showcase Shopping Ads, brands can visually group related products, and in the process merchandise them more effectively. Google recently blogged about how retailers such as Urban Outfitters are benefitting from Showcase Shopping Ads. According to Google:

Urban Outfitters is one example of a retailer using Showcase Shopping ads to get into the consideration set and inspire those new to their brand. Urban Outfitters expanded their Showcase Shopping ads to 50 key categories across apparel, home decor, and beauty. Overall, they saw a 241 percent CTR lift across campaigns running Showcase Shopping ads, with 52 percent of those customers being new. Moreover, Urban Outfitters saw a 186 percent increase in sales from new customers via Showcase Shopping ads (compared to reactivated customers).

In addition, Google recently announced it has improved Showcase Shopping Ads by expanding them into Google Images. Moreover, Google also announced it is making YouTube more shoppable. You get the idea: Google wants advertisers to rely on Google to reach customers.

Meanwhile, Instagram and Facebook Stories are a brilliant way for advertisers to draw potential customers with appealing content that incorporates a narrative and interactive elements. In a survey by research firm Ipsos, 62 percent of respondents reported becoming interested in a product after discovering it via Stories, and more than half indicated they make more purchases online due to Stories.

Finally, Amazon, now the third-largest online ad platform behind Google and Facebook, offers tools like Sponsored Products (which promotes products to shoppers who are using certain keywords, or viewing similar products on Amazon) and Sponsored Brands Display Ads (through which advertisers can upload a customized creative). Amazon provides more insight into these products here.

3 Go Mobile

As we recently blogged, the 2018 holiday season marked the first time smart phones accounted for more than half of all visits to websites during the holidays. Brands are wise to embrace mobile—and deliver a great experience on their site, regardless of where consumers are accessing it from. You don’t want to lose customers to an online experience that reliably delivers from a PC or laptop, but not a smart phone. A failed purchase from a smart phone may result in . . . no purchase at all.

Contact True Interactive

Need help making the most of the opportunities Black Friday affords? Contact us.

Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay

Hello, Instagram All Stars!

Hello, Instagram All Stars!

Social media

Instagram continues to grow by leaps and bounds. As of June 2018, there were nearly one billion monthly active users; that’s 10 times the usage the mainly mobile photo sharing network enjoyed back in June 2013. And businesses continue to flock to the site, although some are using Instagram more effectively than others. To encourage brands to do their very best, we’ve called out four who are absolutely rocking the Instagram platform.

Cadillac: The Big Reveal

Cadillac scores points for using Instagram to do a major product unveil. In September 2019, the General Motors luxury vehicle division revealed the 2020 model of its CT4 sedan, which it hopes will attract a younger demographic of possibly first-time Cadillac buyers aged 25-to-35 years old.

 

“We made a strategic decision to launch a social-first campaign to meet the customer where we know they interact,” Jason Sledziewski, Cadillac’s director of product marketing, told Marketing Daily.

The campaign incorporates an interactive Instagram story and multiple video clips meant to appeal to potential customers’ sensory nature. As Melissa Grady, Cadillac’s chief marketing officer, explained in a release, “Because the CT4 is equal parts technology and performance, we wanted to reveal it in a way that would stimulate the senses and evoke emotions our customers might feel when behind the wheel.”

Cisco: Doing Good

Technology conglomerate Cisco has used Instagram to good effect in a visual way — quite a feat when one considers that unlike Cadillac, the company doesn’t have a cool product to showcase. Using hashtags like #WeAreCisco, which highlights employees celebrating Cisco culture, and #BeTheBridge, which draws attention to Cisco’s employee giving campaign, Instagram is helping Cisco project its commitment to supporting global communities and a caring corporate ethos.

It’s worth noting that women are showcased in Cisco’s Instagram feed, significant in an industry traditionally dominated by males.

McDonald’s: Food is Fun

The McDonald’s Menu Hack on Instagram consists of fun ways to liven up a McDonald’s meal. Peppered with Pro Tips like “once you add some fries to that Filet-O-Fish, life will never be the same,” the campaign uses video to tell a story (e.g., you can put those fries on your Filet-O-Fish).

Key to the campaign are the bright, thumb-stopping visuals. Although it’s not always easy to make food look appealing in photos or videos, McDonald’s manages to pull it off.

Vogue: Sneak Peek

Already visually powerful, Vogue is using Instagram Stories to increase engagement and provide a ephemeral peek behind the scenes. It’s been a lucrative move for the fashion and lifestyle brand. For example, to promote the September 2018 issue before its newsstand release—and unveil its cover model—Vogue decided to reach out to its Instagram following to generate interest. Vogue launched an Instagram Stories campaign featuring superstar Beyoncé in a series of sparkling gowns, as well as an advance peek at the September issue cover, which featured Beyoncé. The campaign was credited with helping the issue sell out on newsstands and bringing in 20 percent of new subscribers.

Contact True Interactive

The takeaway here is that Instagram can help brands generate interest and define—or redefine—themselves for audiences increasingly drawn to visual punch. And these brands are creative with Instagram. They go beyond posting visually appealing images and video. They keep audiences engaged with lively copy and interesting ideas. They surprise and delight. They never fall into a rut. Want to know how to use the Instagram platform to extend your reach? We can help.

Why Brands Need to Capitalize on the Power of Visual Content

Why Brands Need to Capitalize on the Power of Visual Content

Social media

We respond to images every day: an Instagram shot of a stunning sunrise, or the pictures friends text us from a vacation spent hiking in Ireland. But not everyone understands the tremendous power images wield in the business world. Just as any business cares about how its website is written or its ad copy composed, it should also treat images with the same attention and respect. Mary Meeker’s widely read 2019 Internet Trends report underlines that truth.

Images are on the Rise

Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report is an annual thought bomb with considerable influence. According to Meeker, consumer usage of digital continues to increase overall:

With that uptick, there’s been a climb in image creation. Images hold a lot of power. People respond to them: not only the pictures they take, but other people’s, too. And as image sharing becomes more popular, perhaps it’s no coincidence that Instagram use is soaring:

As Meeker points out, Twitter content with images gets more tweet impressions:

And artificial intelligence tools are making images more sophisticated, in the process rendering them more powerful as communication instruments:

What Does The Rise of Visual Storytelling Mean for You?

Her findings are a reminder that businesses need to treat images as critical assets in both paid and organic content. What should your response be? Here are some tips:

  • Capitalize on tools that make your digital advertising stand out, such as Google Shoppable Ads. As we noted in this post, select retailers are experimenting with a format that allows them to highlight multiple products for sale within a sponsored ad appearing in Google Images results.
  • Make Instagram part of your game plan. Instagram is trending, becoming increasingly popular for both business-to-consumer and business-to-business brands, as advertisers become aware of—and ever-more curious about—the opportunities the platform affords. We’ve written about some of those opportunities, including Instagram’s Branded Content Ads, which makes it possible for businesses to use Ads Manager to promote branded content as an ad in their Instagram feeds.
  • Use strong images in your organic content. In a recent post, Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media discusses how images can improve your search rankings. As he points out, “Now we know that visuals are an SEO’s (search engine optimization’s) best friend.” Perhaps that’s because visuals, like well-crafted text, can speak volumes with a minimum of fuss. “Just as you wouldn’t miss the chance to turn a paragraph of items into a bullet list, never miss the chance to use a visual to explain a concept,” Crestodina says.

We agree. And one area where you can make the most of strong images is your Google My Business (GMB) page. That’s because a company’s GMB page, as noted in moz.com, is the single most important way for a business to be found through local searches.

Images hold power. Want to learn more about how to capitalize on that power? Contact us.

Three Big Trends Shaping How Businesses Use Social Media

Three Big Trends Shaping How Businesses Use Social Media

Social media

Paid social on the rise. Facebook is king. And Instagram is the crown prince. Those are some of the take-aways from a recent Social Media Examiner survey of marketers’ social media spending priorities in coming months. The survey offers a useful snapshot of social media trends that cut across industries. Here are some of the principal findings:

Paid Social Is on the Rise

According to the Social Media Examiner report, social media ads are fast becoming indispensible to social media marketing strategy. This development is due to the fact that social media platforms like Instagram are offering more sophisticated tools that help businesses create content that targets specific audiences. One example: Instagram’s new feature, Branded Content Ads. As we recently discussed, the Branded Content Ads feature makes it possible for businesses to use Ads Manager to promote branded content as an ad in their Instagram feeds, and to target a specific audience when they do so.

Facebook Has Fans—A Lot of Them

According to the Social Media Examiner survey, Facebook is the most popular platform for advertisers, with 94 percent of marketers polled choosing it as their first option. On the surface of things, this might be surprising, given the knocks Facebook took in the wake of the high-profile privacy scandals that plagued the social media giant in 2018. And yet, Facebook membership keeps rising: according to the company’s Q4 2018 earnings report, approximately 1.52 billion people used Facebook every day in December 2018. That’s a nine percent year-over-year increase. Also noteworthy is the fact that Facebook tends to be popular among Baby Boomers and older millennials: that’s significant to advertisers who want to use a social platform to reach this audience, which tends to have more discretionary income.

Another reason Facebook remains popular with advertisers is that the company has always provided strong targeting tools, and continues to do so. As this WordStream article discusses, the company makes it easy to launch ad campaigns that target specific audiences with different ad formats and literally thousands of ad targeting parameters. Finally, Facebook is popular for all kinds of content, including video, which expands its usefulness to advertisers. According to the Social Media Examiner report, Facebook is right up there with YouTube as the most well liked video channel for marketers.

Instagram Is the Crown Prince

Though perhaps not as popular as Facebook, Instagram is still a valuable resource for advertisers. And advertisers are intrigued by it: the Social Media Examiner report indicates that when marketers were asked about the social media platform that they’d like to learn more about, a whopping 72 percent chose Instagram. Maybe that’s because the app’s strengths in visual storytelling present a golden opportunity to capitalize on the fact that increasingly, people are using images as a means of communicating. We take trillions of photos each year. And not surprisingly, we’re sharing those photos on platforms such as Instagram, which is also showing a marked increase in membership.

These takeaways paint a compelling picture. Interested in learning more about how social can serve your business needs? Contact us.

https://pixabay.com/photos/twitter-facebook-together-292994/

How Instagram Is Making It Easier for Brands and Influencers to Collaborate

How Instagram Is Making It Easier for Brands and Influencers to Collaborate

Mobile

Instagram understands the appeal—and power—of influencers, and is releasing a new feature, Branded Content Ads, that helps businesses capitalize on that appeal. As Instagram announced in a blog post, Branded Content Ads makes it possible for businesses to use Ads Manager to promote branded content as an ad in their Instagram feeds. Furthermore, businesses can use targeting tools to specify demographics and measure the results: who’s responding, and how many people read the post. Branded Content Ads is a win-win for both advertisers and influencers, especially micro-influencers.

A Win-Win

By tapping into the authenticity of influencer content, and the buzz that content can create, businesses stand to create more awareness for their brand or product. This new tool is especially suited to companies who already know how to work with micro-influencers, such as Swedish watch-maker Daniel Wellington, which already has a strong micro-influencer outreach and does little traditional advertising at all. In a recent micro-influencer campaign, the company thought outside the box and reached beyond lifestyle and fashion Instagrammers to partner with pet lovers. The result? An account that focused—successfully—on the Internet community’s love for cute animals. Pet owners shared images of themselves and their favorite animal friend, with a Daniel Wellington watch always prominently featured somewhere in the mix. Branded Content Ads will provide a company like Daniel Wellington one more tool to work with by allowing the company to take an influencer’s organic post (with the permission of the influencer) and share that post as branded content on the Daniel Wellington Instagram account. Branded Content Ads will also make such a campaign easier to manage and track.

Of course, influencers also benefit from the larger audience that can result from business/influencer collaboration. And because the new Instagram feature allows businesses to target a specific audience and use performance measurement tools to track response, influencers might not only grow but even make some discoveries about their personal brand in the process. This is especially relevant to micro-influencers looking to expand their reach. Consider someone like Christian Caro, a top micro-influencer whose roughly 6,000 followers track his exuberant photos of life in So-Cal.

If he wanted to grow his audience beyond his current Instagram followers, he could capitalize on this new feature and partner with a brand dedicated to topics such as lifestyle, food, or fashion, which overlap with his photography. By contrast, a mega influencer such as Kim Kardashian West, who has 141 million followers, may not benefit as much from this program because she’s clearly doing just fine building an audience on her own.

Keeping It Real

Instagram has laid out specific instructions to help businesses and influencers work together and maintain transparency. Steps include:

  • Businesses must grant permission for the influencer to tag their business in the influencer’s branded content post.
  • As noted, businesses must secure permission from the influencer to promote the post as an ad.
  • Once an ad is created, it is reviewed and approved by Facebook, after which it will appear in the Instagram feeds of the designated audience. Note that businesses won’t be able to manage or delete likes and comments that appear on a promoted branded content post.
  • Once an ad is live, businesses will have access to standard ad reporting metrics.

Eager to learn more about how your business can work with Instagram—and influencers? Contact us.

Instagram Creates Its Own Customer Journey with Checkout

Instagram Creates Its Own Customer Journey with Checkout

Social media

Instagram describes itself as a platform for people to “experience the pleasure of shopping versus the chore of buying.” It’s designed for people to browse for ideas and then shop as opposed to visiting with an express intent to buy and leave. On March 19, Instagram took one step closer to making itself a strong shopping destination by launching a checkout function.

Available on a limited basis, Instagram checkout makes it possible for Instagrammers to buy what they want on Instagram. As Instagram said in a blog post, “Checkout enhances the shopping experience by making the purchase simple, convenient and secure. People no longer have to navigate to the browser when they want to buy. And with their protected payment information in one place, they can shop their favorite brands without needing to log in and enter their information multiple times.”

Charter businesses participating in checkout include Burberry, Nike, and Revolve. In coming weeks, more businesses will participate, including Adidas, H&M, KKW Beauty, Kylie Cosmetics, MAC Cosmetics, Michael Kors, NARS, Oscar de la Renta, Prada, Uniqlo, and Warby Parker. (It’s interesting to note the number of upscale brands creating shoppable experiences on Instagram – a comment on how luxury brands have adapted to the times by becoming more accessible via digital.)

Checkout seems like a natural move for Instagram. As Vishal Shah, Instagram’s head of product, told The Wall Street Journal, “People were already shopping on Instagram. They were just having a hard time doing it.” The platform previously launched shoppable features such as product stickers in Stories. Vishal Shah  told Bloomberg, “Over time, as we are creating value for people, this could be a significant part of our business.”

The launch of checkout positions Instagram against Amazon as a platform for searching and shopping although Amazon clearly has an advantage with its scale. Enabling commerce on Instagram also makes it possible for businesses to create more integrated advertising experiences that connect the customer across the entire purchase journey, from awareness to conversion – with the entire journey occurring inside Instagram (instead of sending customers to an advertiser’s website to make an actual purchase). This is the kind of experience Amazon is creating – a self-contained customer journey where you can search and buy on one platform.

For more insight into how to create successful digital advertising on Instagram, contact True Interactive. We’re here to help.

Image source: Instagram