“Like” It or Not—What the New Direction of Instagram Means for Social Commerce

The new direction of Instagram undoubtedly affects many—content creators, advertisers, brands, and of course, consumers. It’s also symbolic of the continuation of a social landscape poised to sustain and grow social commerce.  

Across the social ecosystem, many Instagram users panicked when Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri recently announced that the testing of removal of likes finally made its way to American Instagram accounts—a test that had been conducted in several countries prior to the U.S.  

The reasoning? The health of Instagram users. Instagram is attempting to create a less pressurized environment so that users “focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.”

In addition to helping maintain the health of its users, this change will subsequently result in maintaining the health of social commerce.

Long before this test, many advertisers and brands had already begun switching gears away from vanity metrics when measuring the success of conversion-based content. With likes (potentially) disappearing forever from the Instagram platform, there will be no other choice but to measure the success of conversion-based content with the ultimate metric: sales. 

As a platform, Instagram has continued to grow its ability to not only advertise, but also to make sales directly from the platform—including shoppable posts, a streamlined checkout experience, and even curating their own shoppable trends.

From Q3 of 2018 to Q3 of 2019, there has been continuous growth among shoppers buying products directly from social media. There’s no data to determine whether shoppers seeing likes affects sales, but it’s safe to say the display of likes can’t outweigh great content, meeting a need, and the sheer convenience powered by social commerce. 

Social commerce will always be tied back to a core principle: the act of buying and selling. So, naturally, measuring the success of social commerce should continue to tie back to how effective the content is at selling a product and whether consumers are actually purchasing.

With the ability to shop within the app, affiliated links for influencers, and the “swipe up” function of Stories, Instagram remains a hub for social commerce to grow.

Speaking of Stories, while this test may seem groundbreaking to some, an aspect to keep in mind is the fact that Instagram Stories have never had any public metrics and have still resulted in increased user engagement with organic content and paid advertisement.

While likes and user engagement look great (especially when establishing brand equity in the social space), likes don’t necessarily translate into sales. This update gives way to a more intentional methodology to create content that is not only thumb-stopping, but also inspires consumers to purchase.

There have been no comments on how this test will evolve, or even if it’s permanent. However, this starting point has forced advertisers, influencers, and brands to lean into the reality of what social commerce is and the future of what it could ultimately be—whether we “like” it or not.

Contributed By: Terrance Coleman, Social Media Manager, Integer Denver

Photo Source: Unsplash