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It was never about the Instagram likes.
Or, at least it shouldn't be.
An intro. 💥 Happy Monday! I hope the weekend treated you well. I turned the big 23 on Saturday, so I spent it how I know best: At work and then watching Riverdale and eating Olive Garden. Is this what getting older feels like?
Well, let’s get to it. 🗞
Instagram announced a few days ago that they’d be testing a feature that hides the number of likes that a photo receives. The test is happening in a few countries, including Canada and Japan. The tech company says that they want users to “focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get,” in hopes of a better using experience on the platform.
The change comes after years of scrutiny for tech companies around “like” and “comment” features, which many studies have shown can be bad for mental health.
Time Magazine reported on a survey of teens and young adults that showed the platform caused “high levels of anxiety, depression, bullying and FOMO, or the “fear of missing out.” Rozanna Purcell, a model with over 280,000 followers on Instagram told The New York Times that she welcomed the change.
“I get so many messages of young girls in school who say how down they are and feel like they’re not good enough because their peers get more likes than them,” she told The Times. “We have enough things in society to compare ourselves to, so getting rid of numbers can only be a good thing.”
Others saw it as the beginning to the end for the platform, noting that interactions could decrease.
So what does all this mean for news publishers?
Instagram, while one of the best platforms for reaching new audiences, especially 18-24-year-olds, yields few returns for publishers in a traditional sense.
Unlike a platform like Facebook, it isn’t leading the way in social referrals. And, for many, it’s not selling subscriptions either. So with the potential absence of likes, I saw a few in the publishing world wondering if putting work into maintaining an Instagram account is worth it.
My take? Yes, yes and yes. First off, of all the KPIs that you could measure on Instagram, likes is becoming a thing of the past. While likes can be a positive sign of engagement, it’s also a very passive one too. I can like “like” a nice photo effortlessly and continue scrolling down my feed. It’s very similar to interactions on Facebook and Twitter. A “like” doesn’t equal a page view.
So, what should publishers focus on when it comes to Instagram? Share-ability.
The feature of being able to add posts to your Instagram story and the ability to send a post to friends should be a performance indicator. It shows not only that users stopped long enough to read what you put out there, but they also warrant it important enough to post to their story or send to a friend.
In 2019, a pretty picture isn’t going to cut it on Instagram.
Here are a few publishers that I think are dominating in this way:
The Cut, a women’s site from New York Magazine, gets Instagram. They often post provocative quotes, or even story headlines as posts on Instagram, encouraging people to visit the link in their bio to read more. Not only does this make me want to comment on the post (which I did), but it’s also interesting enough to make me want to read more in the bio or send to friends.
World — from BuzzFeed News
There is a place for news on Instagram, and BuzzFeed World is doing is right. Curated by Kassy Cho, who does audience development at BuzzFeed, the account is news heaven. It’s simple and right to the point, and the posts stand alone. Even without the caption, I know what the story is.
One last note: Thinking of simple and right to the point: As long as your Instagram strategy is consistent, simplicity can work in your favor.
Some Media Reads. Lot of interesting changes and initiatives happening out there in the media world.
“Critics who point out that Twitter’s big redesign has done nothing to fix its fundamental problems are correct. But it should at least make the company a little lighter on its feet from now on — so it can move on to making the sorts of substantive changes that could really make a difference. Or at least really piss people off.”
“The site approached the idea of a daily newsletter based on the success of its popular Facebook show of the same name. It summarizes the day’s top news stories in short segments appropriate for mobile viewing.”
“You could decide the BBC is a subscription service,” Lord Hall of Birkenhead told MPs. “It would be very, very different to the sort of BBC you have now, because you would be giving subscribers what they want, not the breadth of the population.”
A song for the week
A tweet for the week
A read for the week
I know there’s a lot of Apollo hype, but this interactive story from The New York Times makes you feel like you were there. Worth the read.
That’s all for this week. Have a great week, everyone!