Building a Social Media Strategy After Instagram Removes Likes

instagram likes

Here’s what medical marketers need to know about cultivating a social media presence on a platform without “likes.”

Instagram, the influencer’s social media platform of choice, is making a bold move — removing “likes” from posts. The visually-driven platform has been criticized for fostering an unhealthy culture of “compare and despair,” where users see how they stack up against influencers and base their self-worth on those findings. In fact,  A 2017 Royal Society of Public Health study declared Instagram the worst social media platform for social, emotional, and mental health.  

In response to such criticism, Instagram has started removing like counts in several countries. This doesn’t mean they’re completely gone, just hidden from public view. The idea is that since Instagram likes have become markers of status, success, and social capital for many users, keeping them private will facilitate healthier relationships with the app. 

Reaction to this news has been mostly positive, and other social media giants like Facebook are considering following suit. Still, many healthcare marketers are nervous about how a like-less platform will affect their social media strategy. 

What Does This Change Mean For Medical Marketers?

In the past, healthcare providers have used Instagram to connect with patients, tell inspiring stories, and tap into the platform’s over 400 million users. Medical marketers see likes and views as important engagement metrics because they are simple measures — i.e. a like indicates someone has willingly interacted with their content.    

However, it would behoove medical marketers mourning the loss of Instagram likes to remember those little hearts don’t necessarily mean quality engagement. A like on a photo can simply mean somebody saw it, not necessarily that they care about it. In a fast-paced social landscape where Instagrammers use emojis to indicate the smallest reaction, liking photos or posts only counts as passive engagement.  

Therefore, Instagram’s new private liking system may not spell disaster for medical marketers. As long as they continue producing quality content that patients want to interact with in other ways, seeing a visual representation of that engagement might not matter.    

Tips For Encouraging Active Social Media Engagement

The most important thing medical marketers can do to rebound after losing Instagram likes is to shift their focus to comments. Without likes, comments are the next best measure of quality engagement. The most effective way to get comments is by making dynamic Instagram posts that share a more personal side of a hospital or medical practice. Concentrate on delivering quality content that inspires viewers to not just look, but also listen and interact. 

Medical marketers should also take this opportunity to explore Instagram’s other capabilities. Instagram Live, for instance, lets users stream videos in real-time for their followers and see exactly how many of those followers are tuned in. Marketers can use these streams to demo new products, host question and answer sessions with doctors, or give followers an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at a medical practice. On Instagram Live, marketers can still get a one-to-one count of who’s interacting with their content — arguably the most important byproduct of likes.   

In the advertising community, there’s been a lot of talk about what medical marketers stand to lose without Instagram likes, and many feel this change jeopardizes the social and economic viability of the platform. Yet creative marketers know that a social media strategy that offers dynamic, comment-generating content is bound to succeed, likes or no likes.

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