This past May, Instagram shook the social media world by announcing it may do away with “likes.” Depending on the social media user, reactions ranged from revolted to relieved. Certainly with recent reports on the impact social media has on mental health, the news couldn’t have come as a total shock. Yet dismayed users had a point: “likes” are a core functionality of the app, and an essential part of the experience that keeps them coming back.
To be fair, Instagram isn’t exactly getting rid of “likes.” Instead, it is testing a new feature that hides public “like” counts on users’ posts. Only the user sharing the post can see the likes it receives, while their followers cannot. The test started in Canada and recently expanded to other countries, including Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. Suffice to say, “likes” will live to see another day, though a big shift may be imminent.
Why the change? According to Instagram, the reason behind the test is to force users to focus on their content, rather than their “likes.” For example, many users delete the posts that do not, in their opinion, receive enough engagement—which defies Instagram’s mission to help people capture, share and experience moments in their friends’ lives.
Understanding the balance between the quality of content and the quantity of its resultant metrics is critical—and not just on Instagram. For many of our B2B clients, the “place to be” online is Twitter, LinkedIn and, for some, Facebook. Each platform has its own metrics and methods for measuring success. Yet, as social media producers, it is our job to determine which metrics are most important to pay attention to.
Defining Success for Your Brand
You shouldn’t Google, “What is a ‘good’ number of likes, shares or impressions for a Twitter post?” You need to understand the program deeply and tailor success metrics to your specific client. With that, these are our best practices for setting realistic, meaningful goals for B2B brands on social media.
- Understand the business goals. Your social media program should directly serve your client’s business objectives. Does your client want to gain brand awareness? Does it want to engage more with customers and partners? Drive traffic back to the website? Generate new leads? Understanding the clients’ overarching goals will help you shape every strategy, schedule and social post moving forward.
- Assess the metrics that matter most. Once aligned on business goals, you need to determine which metrics will most accurately gauge your progress. If your client wants to raise its visibility, followers should be your first priority, followed by impressions and reach. If the client wants to increase engagement, pay attention to “likes” and comments. For website traffic and lead gen, link clicks will give you the insight you need. Looking at metrics blindly—for example, if posts are receiving a high number of likes but users aren’t clicking the link—may give you a false sense of success without serving the client’s needs.
- Scale to audience. Social media analytics are all about the numbers, but it’s important to set realistic goals based on your current audience. If you have a relatively low number of followers, your most popular posts may only receive a “likes.” This is not a failure. On top of that, it helps to know who your audience is. Engagement frequency and type can vary based on age, profession and target demographic.
Social media metrics are not one-size fits all. Set customized goals and compare your progress on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis. The better you understand your client and your program, the better you can drive future success.