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Likes on Social Media are for Amateurs: Focus all your Attention on just one thing

If you’re a tech aficionado, you might have heard the news: Instagram is about to remove like and counts from its post.

Shocking news, right? I mean, how can they remove the most critical element of social proof that ever existed? Likes are how we measure the success of our brand popularity, they show the level of engagement, and they’re the simplest way to react to the celebs and brands we follow.

It’s a bold move but an interesting one.

Not so long ago, likes and comments were a critical KPI for measuring the engagement and a brand’s reach.

Just like people, brands have personalities. Regardless of who you’re as a person, there is one thing that surpasses everything: Attention.

What happened to “Like”?

If you follow Gary V, you might’ve heard it a thousand times. Don’t go for likes and comments; focus all your energy on getting the attention of your users.

A few years back “like” used to be a robust social currency.

We all have measured the popularity of our stuff with comments and likes, shares, and clicks to identify the level of engagement that we received. Influencers made good use of likes, making it a part of the impact. The more likes you get, the more interested users are in you.

However, have you ever thought that “like” was never the right solution in the first place.

As Chris Taylor shares on Mashable:

“The like button has acquired a panoply of meanings in the social realm. It can be used variously to mean yes, I agree, I hear you, sure, why not, I guess. It can be used as a bookmark. And that’s just scratching the surface; there are a whole bunch of other reasons, personal and political, why we might be giving you a heart or a thumbs-up.”

To put it in simple terms, a like can mean many things:

  • “Yes, I agree with this.”
  • “I hear you.”
  • “I think this is good.”
  • “I should Bookmark this.”
  • I guess you get the idea.

Likes were originated by communities which mean different things to different contexts. Mostly, it is healthy and normal. However, in some cases chasing likes can be dangerous.

Layout the welcome mat to new engagement metric: Attention

However, the importance of likes diminished because the behaviors of people changed.

Previous ways to show engagement were as follows:

  • As per the old standards, comment, click or reshare can get the job done.
  • Following the brand.
  • Deep-searching the brand feed.
  • Checking stories and profiles.

The list is endless.

The modern-day era is all about the proliferation of stories and the way we see those stories. We all gauge the engagement with the following metrics:

  • Reach
  • Completion Rate
  • Exits

What we actually measure here is how the content resonates with the audience. Is it engaging? We actually measure the affinity of a brand. People are more likely to view the stories of someone they trust and enjoy.

We have metrics like video watch time, which accurately measure the amount of time a user spends in watching the videos. In the past a like or a comment served this purpose, but not anymore. If the user is bypassing the video, it means that video is not creating an impact.

Same goes for algorithms. While likes were a sign of engagement – but sadly they were just a tiny part of many touchpoints. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest have all the data that can show you the duration for which the user stayed on the content, paused, and moved on without even noticing a thing.  

How Can Marketers leverage the power of attention?

The key to creating a successful social media content these days goes beyond likes, shares and comments. Yes, these signs that you are on the right track but with so much data available for social media managers, there is much more than meets the eye.

Now, every reporting dashboard is customized for each brand. To know where the customers are spending their time, here are a few common metrics to consider:

  • The completion rate for Stories
  • Video watch time and audience retention
  • Referral traffic and attribution
  • Engagement rate (total interactions divided by reach)
  • Time spend of a page.
  • A number of page visits in each visit.

At the end of each day, if you use likes to measure, what exactly are you measuring?

As we’ve seen earlier, likes are just one part of thousands of data points. Yes. It might guarantee that someone saw your post or even that they agreed with it, but this doesn’t mean that the post amazed them.

What’s more important for your brand is the amount of attention you’re able to gather while everyone else is still busy and happy with the number of likes or shares they get.

Social media marketing is now all about captivating the audience. What is the impact of content that you’re putting out there? Likes are not a sign of success on social media anymore.  

Over to you

At the end of the day, you’ll have to brainstorm with your team and come up with creative ways to counter this move by Instagram.

Do you agree that attention is the next big thing? How do you measure this already?

What measures will you take to increase the attention span of your users?

Yousuf Rafi

A Caffeine dependent non-mainstream person trying to elevate small talk to medium talk. I know I will win, not immediately but definitely. I do most of the talking in my head. However, for other things, I prefer writing blogs.