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How will Facebook’s proposal to ‘hide likes’ affect brand reputation?

“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only you will be able to see the total number of likes on your posts.” — Instagram spokesperson on ‘hiding likes.’
 
When it comes to demand generation, strategies like social media marketing and content marketing are crucial. To raise awareness, position your brand as a leader, and build an online presence, these tactics can achieve great results. But often, measuring their success can be tough. Generating demand is all about getting noticed, and it’s important to remember that getting leads and acquiring customers isn’t a priority at this stage. Engagement metrics can be helpful to see how you are performing — measuring likes, comments, shares or followers can indicate how your organization measures up. Recently, however, social media giant Facebook announced its plans to test hidden likes — that can only be seen by the account owner — across Facebook, as well as photo-sharing platform Instagram. How could this affect B2B demand generation for businesses on social?
 
The announcement was predominantly well-received. In recent years, a number of studies have suggested that an increased obsession with social media likes has negatively impacted users’ mental health — particularly when it comes to young people. According to Science Alert, while 78% of teenagers said social media helped them feel closer to friends, 15% of them also stated they felt the pressure to be the best version of themselves, and 9% felt the fear of missing out. So, the idea of hidden likes has been met with a lot of positivity. And similarly, it has been suggested that it is an effective way to stop users deleting posts when they do not get enough likes — a tactic used by teenagers to showcase only their ‘best moments’, according to a Washington Post article.
 
According to WishPond, since Facebook’s launch in 2004 and the addition of its like button in 2009, there have been 1.123 trillion likes. And, currently, the most liked picture on Instagram boasts 3.6 million likes. So, it’s easy to see why marketers have taken to using this metric to see value from B2B marketing efforts. The number of followers a brand has, or likes a post gets, is proof of the level of power or influence it holds. The best quality photography, most engaging caption, or most forward-thinking campaign won’t always be the one to get the most likes. Often, it’ll be the brand or influencer with the largest following.
 
Some brands that rely on the third party platforms to generate demand for their products or services fear the potential change could impact how easy it is for their brand to get noticed. Similarly, some believe it to be a tactic by Facebook to squash influencer marketing — ensuring more marketing budget is spent directly on social media advertising. While all, or none, of these theories may be true, it is clear that the removal of user-facing likes calls for better quality content than ever before. Without large numbers of likes to justify or validate a post, marketers will have to revisit their strategies and decide how best to get heard above the noise and position themselves as leaders.
 
This is a perfect opportunity to go back to the drawing board, and ensure your marketing goals align with your wider business strategy. Instead of aiming for likes, what will you measure instead? B2B organizations in particular will have to think outside of the box to establish new ways to engage audiences. Do you want to create a two way conversation? Then focus on comments, replies and direct messaging. Are you looking to tell stories? Then opt for long-form posts, engaging imagery, and an all-encompassing user experience. Do you want to raise awareness or spread a message? Design a campaign that focuses on sharing. Don’t dismiss the power of influencers or affiliates — even with hidden likes, brand advocacy will always be valuable. Overall, the removal of public likes seems to be a positive thing. While it may mean reviewing your strategy and altering the metrics you measure, ultimately, it will help B2B organizations prioritize quality content creation in favor of number of likes and allow users to share and engage more freely.
 
Lead Forensics is a lead generation software that turbocharges your lead generation process. The tool maximizes your B2B website, aligns sales and marketing teams and helps manage and nurture leads through your funnel. It works by tracking your website and alerting users of visitors in real-time. Users will also gain access to contact details of key decision-makers and access to detailed visitor journeys. This way, marketers and sales teams can reach out to the right person at just the right time, tailoring their follow-up for the ultimate results. Discover a bounty of new leads, directly through your website. Book your free Lead Forensics demonstration today.