Instagram likes are digital gold. This is why many people opt to buy Instagram likes.
Instagram is the most engaging social platform in the modern digital age, and Instagram likes thus provide a metric for gauging if your overall social media strategy is working.➤ Table of Contents
At the time of writing, there are approximately 4.2 billion likes shared on the platform every day, which makes Instagram the most popular social media site on the planet. However, while it might sound like Instagram likes are being shelled out left and right, many new companies struggle to gather the beloved double-taps.
While the jury is still out on the impact of Instagram removing the number of likes from visibility, platform-wide changes like that should be the least of your worries when it comes to getting Instagram likes. Even with the new strategies Instagram is implementing to keep users engaged and on the platform, the basic principles behind why certain accounts are successful at acquiring likes and others are not remain true. With a core of great content, a lot of companies have been able to make a name for themselves on Instagram, and there’s no reason why you can’t too.
In this guide, we’re going to dive deeply into the nature of Instagram likes, including what they mean to your business and how to get more. We’re also going to chat about the psychology behind Instagram as a social platform, including the reasons why they’re masters of social proof, as well as how you can use similar concepts to up your engagement game. Although the science might sound complicated, generating Instagram likes is actually simpler than you might imagine. Let’s start by looking at the foundations of the platform.
Instagram was founded in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. As noted in the New York Times, Systrom met Steve Anderson, the founder of Baseline Ventures, and Anderson had taken a liking to Systrom’s app Burbn, a service that enabled people to share their location with friends, as well as add photos to posts. As Anderson was worried about the lack of input that comes with a one-person startup, he suggested to Systrom that they find a business partner. Systrom agreed, and Anderson invested $250,000.
Systrom’s search found Mike Krieger, who was an engineer with a fascination for synthesizing coding, technology, psychology, linguistics, and philosophy. After the two started working together, they realized that Burbn was too similar to Foursquare. They trimmed the idea down to a simple photo-sharing app, and Instagram was born.
The initial format for Instagram was similar to what it is now: take a photo, edit it, add your caption, and send it to your friends and family. The first post was created by Krieger on July 16, 2010; Systrom’s first post came a few hours later. On October 6, 2010, Instagram launched on the App Store and soon after began fundraising their Series A, which closed in February 2011 for $7 million at a $20 million evaluation.
After acquiring nearly 30 million users on iOS since its launch, the app was finally introduced to Android in April 2012, where it was downloaded more than one million times in its first day. Less than a week later, Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock, which was the largest acquisition ever at that time. However, the biggest surprise was that a company with no revenue stream was being purchased for such a high price.
Over the past decade, Instagram has worked steadily on improving their platform. They introduced direct messaging as well as video in 2013 and advertising in 2015, which opened themselves up to a rapidly growing revenue stream. The biggest staple improvement was in August 2016, when Stories were introduced, which was a direct competition to video-sharing app Snapchat. Stemming from the Stories format, Instagram also introduced Live, which enabled people to live stream to the platform in real time. From there, the product has been getting better and better. The most recent change that has people buzzing is their introduction of hiding likes.
While we haven’t yet seen the numbers on what hiding likes have done for engagement, the general goal is to remove or reduce envy. The thought is that if people don’t have enough likes, they’ll feel embarrassed, whereas if a post has too many, someone might be jealous. Instagram decided that taking away likes would encourage people to engage more, as well as post more. As the platform’s core is based around what people like, post, and comment on, the ability to accurately improve upon that is in its best interests, which is why likes are so crucial to understand.
Likes are more than just double-tapping on a photo or hitting the “heart” underneath; they are in fact a core piece of how people engage with the platform. Instagram has thrived because they’re good at keeping eyeballs on their platform, with the average user estimated to spend around 27 minutes per day—a healthy chunk of our overall media diet. Their success in maintaining this retention stems from showing users the content they’ll most likely love, which comes from their famed algorithm...one of the most talked-about pieces of digital marketing infrastructure on the planet.
As noted by Power Digital Marketing, the new Instagram algorithm was introduced in 2015. After the app started including advertising and surpassed 400 million global users, Instagram decided to give their feed a makeover.
The initial goal of the algorithm was to reduce missed posts: they decided to change up the order in which people saw the content from chronological to an algorithmic order based on who they followed and engaged with, as well as related content. This was incredibly controversial at the time, as growth marketers were obsessed with finding the perfect time to post, but were now thwarted by a piece of technology they didn’t understand. However, it wasn’t long before people started to understand the advantages of the new structure.
In studying the algorithm, people learned it had a lot to do with initial organic engagement, as well as when people were liking posts. Because it’s an ever-changing organism, the algorithm is still something people are battling against, but is now a piece of infrastructure Instagram can profit from.
One benefit of changing to an algorithmic-based formula was that it enabled Instagram to start building more advertising tools. As advertising at the time was only a year old, the data points that people could obtain were relatively limited. Instagram started to unveil better pieces to advertise with, which included insights into the reach, demographics, and impressions. Additionally, Facebook for Business (the platform to buy advertising on Instagram) started to see a robust build-out of its targeting tools, enabling them to get down to specific data points.
Many argue that Facebook for Business knows more about us than we do ourselves. The reason political advertising on Facebook and Instagram was so controversial in the US 2016 presidential elections was because of the depth Facebook for Business could bring. This wasn’t just about knowing if you were a Democrat or Republican; it was about the intricacies that make up who you are as a person. For example, if I want to sell a weight-loss product to members of Generation X that make above $100,000, live in the suburbs, voted for Trump, own an American-made car, and listen to Taylor Swift, I could compile an entire population of leads across the United States. The ability to generate such finely grained demographics results in incredibly powerful tools.
Though Facebook for Business has been used for negative purposes, it can also do a lot of good. As you’re paying for impressions (the number of people who see, like, and comment on your post), Instagram’s advertising is largely based on the idea that the more people who see your posts, the more likely they’ll convert, thus giving you an ROI. While that’s not always the case (especially if you run bad advertising), the types of tools they give you can enable you to do just that.
When looking to establish an advertising campaign, the first thing you need to consider is your budget versus the ROI you’re aiming to produce. Sometimes with a low budget it might not even be advertising you need, but a micro-influencer’s word or a limited-time contest. With advertising, the goal should be to spend enough that you’re reaching a massive audience quickly, giving you the best insights into how you can improve and reiterate your message. Remember, such specification in setting up a campaign also means I can test different messages against different demographics; for example, I might want to see if my CBD pain-relief product sold better among team sports athletes or extreme sports athletes.
With a basic budget in mind, take a glance at who you’re trying to reach and why. The why is essentially your advertising goal, as well as the altruistic purpose you’re trying to bond with the consumer over. This can be a bit of a challenge, but will ultimately drive the messaging of your ad.
After you’ve established who you’re going after and why, it’s time to start setting up your ads. At this time, it’s wise to take a glance at the metrics of likes, comments, clicks, and conversions (sales beyond a click/CTA). This is the nuts and bolts of the campaign, and is where you’ll ultimately define success, as well as what can be improved on next time.
While an advertising campaign is simple to execute, it’s easy to get lost in the numbers, which is why this is ultimately about long-term brand recognition and allegiance.
Over time, people started trying to “game” the algorithm, which came with mixed results. As the practices generally involved trying to post a lot of content, posting at significant times, or utilizing spam accounts, the platform was pretty quick to catch on to how these marketers were trying to get ahead. Eventually, a lot of excessive spam was removed from the platform, but there are still smart hacks to get your likes up, including utilizing organic marketing services to buy Instagram likes.
A big difference between organic social agencies and those who use bots is that bots and spam accounts are written by an algorithmic code to repeatedly create accounts and post. Organic social agencies are places where you can buy Instagram likes from real people, among other services, such as having real people comment on or like your photos. Ultimately, even when using a service that can help with something like buying Instagram likes, it’s important to find the balance based on your current audience, aiming to gradually build your likes at a reasonable pace.
As stated above, the core function of the algorithm was to retain users on the platform. Quite simply, the goal of Instagram is to feed you enough content that keeps you entertained so you spend more time on the platform, and thus see more advertisements. They’ve perfected a feedback loop, which looks roughly like this:
Marketers have found lots of little hacks to work with the algorithm to ensure their posts get seen. For example, famed marketer Gary Vee notes that part of his content strategy is creating “macro” and “micro” content, in which your macro goes out at 12:00 pm, while your micro goes out at 12:01 pm. Of course, a marketer like Gary would also note that the most vital component to making your posts pop anywhere on Instagram is to make sure that you’re creating quality content.
Rather than any hack, trick, or gimmick, the most important thing you can do to get engagement on Instagram is to create content worth engaging in. This means creating something that at the very least is entertaining to an audience, with the absolute best content holding some sort of meaning or significance. The idea of “quality content on Instagram” is not necessarily about its artistic value; it’s about engagement and influence, which is a lot more than just a popularity contest.
All of the content you create should be honest and stem from your brand voice. As people look toward brands (and even influencers) for guidance, they are seeking a sense of what’s true in themselves. For example, people who wear Patagonia garments and shop at Whole Foods feel those brands have a sense of altruism that they share. The same goes for someone who is a big fan of Wranglers or Ford trucks: they are aligning themselves with brands that evoke Western American culture. Ultimately, your brand’s voice will be a deciding factor in whether people want to follow you or not, let alone like your content.
When looking at your brand, first try to establish what keywords or phrases come to you, being as objective as possible. As the point of a brand is to separate yourself from the competition, try to be as specific as possible with the words you use, as these will ultimately be what drive you into that niche category. During this process, it’s also important to get an outside opinion on the matter, providing fresh eyes to see how accurately you’re viewing your own brand compared to others. While it might sound contradictory, your brand doesn’t belong to you, but rather to the general public, which is why it’s often credited for having a life of its own. Treat your brand like the living, breathing creature it is, and the content will flow.
Your content should look and feel like it came from a real person. While it’s true that someone took the time to write, design, or photograph whatever’s in it, what makes it authentic is that it has a voice or feeling we want to be friends with.
When you study your favorite brands, you’ll notice that all of their posts have a certain look or aesthetic, giving a similar feeling every time. Furthermore, these brands will also have a tone to their writing, which, although it’s not always the same, feels like it comes from the same heart. As corny as it sounds, we view brands as an honest reflection of ourselves, which in turn means we should build them to reflect that honesty.
An influencer is someone who has such an influential voice in an Instagram community that they wield buying power. While influencers don’t always guarantee that a product will be sold, they do guarantee visibility to a certain audience. The reason influencer culture is considered a long-lasting, sustainable strategy is that we’re simply taking a centuries-old marketing practice and giving it a new name.
Social proof is a term coined by Robert Cialdini, who said, “We view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it.” Essentially, when we see other people doing something, we’re more likely to do it as well. This has been a tool used in marketing for over a century now, and includes everything from old popular phrases like “9 out of 10 dentists recommend X toothpaste” to the cover athletes on the front of Wheaties boxes. And for Instagram, this has led to a number of different practices we’ll cover below. Macro- and micro-influencers exemplify how social proof plays a role in how many likes someone gets.
As stated above, influencers are those who hold a specific level of influence over a community. This can range from being a local fitness star in a midsized city to someone like Dan Blizerian (29.2 million followers) or Kylie Jenner (151 million followers), who have foundations bigger than some of the most prominent places in media. Their name alone means you’ll be in front of a massive audience, but it also means you’ll see an ROI on their endorsement. Think of being an influencer like an advertising platform, only with a real person representing the brand.
A lot of guides place influencers into different tiers, with the most popular being mega, macro, micro, and nano. Remember, the name of the game here is getting an ROI on your advertising, which is why it’s best to assess what layer of influencer you need, the price point they hold, and what you hope to get in return based on the audience their brand serves. Let’s break down the basics.
These are going to be A-list or B-list celebrities. Essentially, these are the people whose name everyone knows, and their fame is going to be reflected in their follower count. Generally reserved for brands working on national or international campaigns, the mega-influencer is going to come with a pricey retainer. For example, in August 2018, it was reported by CNBC that Kylie Jenner gets paid $1 million per post on Instagram. That means an average three-month campaign of three to five posts per month could cost $9-15 million. While that’s expensive, it serves an important function in the longevity of Instagram.
What makes the mega-influencer worth the money is the ROI. Quite simply, while you might be able to negotiate with Jenner to include a “swipe-up to purchase” in her Instagram story, the real value of her word comes in how many other people will gravitate toward that product as well. Not only will she post it, but her fans, fan accounts, and media outlets will too. When you factor in media that’s not trackable, such as word-of-mouth conversations, screenshots shared via text or email, and even the accidental glance on a subway, the mega-influencers’ overall reach stretches beyond the ability to buy Instagram likes and enter the national spotlight.
Next up we have the macro-influencer, which Scrunch defines as someone with 50,000 to 300,000 followers (although those numbers can vary). A popular choice for budding consumer goods or service companies, these influencers can pack a powerful punch when it comes to ROI. Generally representing themselves as the most popular choice within a community, the macro-influencer has a dedicated audience that views this person as a bona fide leader. They are champions of a broad audience, with enough reach to really make a splash.
While macro-influencers can cost between $1,000 to $10,000 per post, that price point is justified by the word of mouth that spreads from their posts. While it might not have the national appeal of a Jenner, it’s incredibly effective for products with broad but general demographics. For example, partnering with someone like Joe Freshgoods could help a brand integrate both within a powerful audience in streetwear, as well as increase their visibility among his peers who include even more notable names. Note that a big part of influencer culture when it comes to the number of followers versus price point involves who is a fan of that influencer, which is often where the value resides.
The micro-influencer has been defined as someone with anywhere from 1,000 to 50,000 followers. Essentially, these are people who are well known within a certain region or community; for example, mid-Atlantic fashion influencer or Pacific Coast fitness influencer. Additionally, a lot of midsized to major cities have micro-influencers spread throughout, often as people who serve as guides to what’s new or hip in restaurants and activities. And in terms of pricing versus ROI, you’d be surprised at the impact a micro-influencer can have.
Micro-influencers generally have a more affordable price point per their following, which is why they’re a popular choice for local, regional, and national brands alike. When a brand targets the right micro-influencer, their advertising spend can generate significant engagement, as a lot of these accounts are populated by people who heard about the influencer via word of mouth. That generally indicates that they live in the same area and fall into a similar income bracket. Furthermore, micro-influencers are often seen as more down to earth, attainable, and relatable. The micro-influencer can be a perfect representation of what a brand is trying to land for their business, and should definitely be considered if you’re in the market to buy Instagram likes.
Finally, we have the nano-influencer. Generally speaking, a nano-influencer is considered impactful on a local level among a specific community, or is an influencer’s influencer. On a national level, think of these as the people who are leading the way in the next big thing. They operate behind the scenes, and are more influential in real life than online. However, getting them to post something on Instagram may be pricey.
As we mentioned above, understanding social proof is key to getting people to like whatever you’re posting on Instagram.
An essential strategy to employ for any marketing expert, social proof is what drives influencer popularity, and is also the primary reason people like your photos on Instagram. The idea behind social proof is largely what’s driven Instagram to experiment with removing the number of likes on a photo, as an encouragement to both posters and viewers of content. And while you can always employ strategies like trying to buy Instagram likes, ultimately you’re going to have to work those into organic likes from your channel.
When posting content to Instagram, social proof is essentially going to be that initial spark plug enabling your post to gain traction. After all, part of the reason Instagram removed likes is to encourage more likes on posts that aren’t doing so hot at first.
The psychology of removing likes is that they wanted to discourage behavior such as if a post only has 1 like after 10 minutes, then other people will be less likely to like that post since other people don’t either. However, if I see that 10 people have liked a post in 1 minute, then not only will Instagram’s algorithm start to reward that post by posting it in more followers’ feeds, but any viewer is also more likely to like that post. This phenomenon also exists for comment sections.
For example, if I see that a post doesn’t have many likes but has a lot of comments, and explore further to see that the post has generated a heated debate, I might be dissuaded from liking the post. Yes, social proof on Instagram is a slippery slope, but one that when utilized correctly as a strategy can help you gain more traction.
Here are some of our favorite strategies for using social proof to generate likes on Instagram:
Simply getting a comment on your content by an influencer can be a huge boost in gaining more likes.
There’s nothing wrong with getting more organic traffic to your Instagram by utilizing an agency that specializes in helping you buy Instagram likes, followers, or comments. Social proof is all about the numbers, and buying Instagram hits can sometimes give you a little boost to push you over the edge.
There’s no shame in trying to get more traffic by visiting other people. Regardless of whether you like or follow their content, simply engaging with them can sometimes lead to a sizeable return if you do it right.
As hashtags help bring people together around a common conversation, finding which ones work within your branded posts can be beneficial to start driving traffic quickly and improving social proof. Research which hashtags might work best for your business, as well as which topics you might be able to gain ownership over.
When seeking out restaurants, shops, or other popular buildings, people use geotags. As an added bonus, a geotag can start generating traffic quickly to your posts.
The removal of likes from posts significantly changed how we view social proof and Instagram.
Previously, you could see the exact number (for example, “Steven and 10 others liked this post”); however, the app now hides the number (“Steven and others liked this post”). The reasoning behind this was largely due to social proof. As social proof is about going with (or without) the crowd, the aim of removing likes was to encourage people to post more, as well as getting people to like more, since the immediate social pressure is masked.
According to interviews conducted by PBS, the early indicators suggest that this could reduce anxiety, which could lead to more engagement and likes in the long run.
Below you’ll find the most popular examples of social proof. These are widely used across Instagram, social media, and in other mediums as well.
Getting an expert’s stamp of approval is often for auxiliary needs as well, such as being a part of an environmental or beneficiary group. For example, if I’m trying to market my product as environmentally friendly, getting the stamp of approval from the EPA or a rainforest group can go a long way. However, though efforts like this can be great in providing authority, you should also be mindful of who you’re acquiring them from.
When gaining a stamp of approval, make sure that the person you’re getting an endorsement from is genuinely considered an expert in their field. Additionally, make sure that the group doesn’t have any controversial beliefs that might not align with your brand. Taking the example of environmentalism, there are some groups that essentially help brands cut corners and “greenwash,” and associating yourself with them might do more harm than good. Always make sure that whoever you’re getting the endorsement from is someone you would want to align with.
When utilizing an expert’s stamp of approval on Instagram, a smart strategy is to break up the testimonials over time. Quite simply, just because you can say “9 out of 10 dentists approve of X toothpaste,” that doesn’t mean it’s the only line you should use; in fact, it’s much more advantageous to break up those 9 testimonials into 9 different clips. It’s more impactful to hear about a concept from an individual than a group, and having expert opinions delivered one at a time can help tremendously.
Another great source for social proof is utilizing a celebrity endorsement. Depending on the size of your marketing budget, it’s unlikely you’ll get a Justin Bieber or LeBron James to talk about your brand; however, that’s not to say you can’t get someone famous. In any industry, there’s always a “celebrity” available who can help bolster the conversation around your brand, providing a testimonial that will help win over their fans and, in turn, convert them to yours.
In looking for a celebrity endorsement, one of the first places you should start is with your favorite celebrities in your industry. It’s okay to make a wish list, as practically anyone can be obtainable with the right messaging and pitch. From there, it’s important to start digging into what type of budget you have for a testimonial, as they can range quite a bit depending on the stature of the person. Often, if you can arrange a quid pro quo for free goods or services, local celebrities may go for that. Ultimately, this is about making a natural connection between your brand and this figure, which can be lucrative in the long term.
When reaching out to celebrities, always express appreciation for the value they bring to their own brand; for example, if you admire their altruism or their environmental approach to their brand, then mention that. Keep your message concise and to the point, being specific about the campaign you’re looking to run as well as how they can be involved. Be upfront about your budget and what you can afford, as they’re ultimately going to say yes or no to this part.
With a celebrity in place, it’s time to start planning the specifics of your campaign with them. The name of the game here is to maximize the amount of content you can get out of the amount of time you spend with them. So, if you were only able to book a two-hour appointment, ensure you get them in there at that time and acquire as close to two hours of footage as possible. Out of that footage, you’ll create several one-minute clips. When it comes to Instagram, you’d be surprised at what a few one-minute clips can really do.
Now that you have your clips, you’ll want to make sure this is content the celebrity wants to share. A big part of this is going to be making clips that not only look pristine, but also resonate with both the celebrity and your audience. While you most likely have a good idea of what this content will look like, it’s important to keep the mission and message concise, homing in on what your audience really is after. Look at other clips the celebrity has posted as reference, and strive to make content that’s even better.
Believe it or not, we care a lot about the opinions of everyday people. While we might think that our respect for what we should buy or consume only comes from experts on the matter, our views on what someone down the street says hold a lot of weight; in fact, products with customer testimonials are considered 89 percent more effective than products that don’t have any testimonials at all. Let’s look at a few reasons why this is the case.
Customer testimonials bring a sense of humbleness. Quite simply, we like the opinions of others because they give us a sense that a product has been used by real people. Additionally, testimonials provide a certain emotional weight, making us feel empathetic toward someone else’s experiences. Word of mouth is everything: If people feel that what someone else is saying is true, they’ll be more likely to pass it along.
When implementing customer testimonials into your Instagram materials, always pick a variety of choices from different backgrounds. If possible, highlight different use cases for different types of people. For example, if you have a fashion brand, then showing off different styles and looks from regular people who have tagged your brand will encourage others to envision themselves in the clothes. Of course, this also ties into another strategy for customer testimonials, which is to request input from your audience, with possible rewards. For example, you might post “Send us your fall pics in your latest gear with our hashtag and receive 10% off!”
Finally, when it comes time to post testimonials, don’t be afraid to edit what people have said slightly. People ramble or repeat words when they talk, and most will appreciate it if you make them sound articulate and coherent. If you’re going to ghostwrite testimonials, always give them an authentic tone and voice, mimicking real-life transcripts if you can. Ultimately, every testimonial should serve a specific marketing purpose, with an ability to resonate.
There’s no bigger sign of respect on Instagram than having one of your competitors or sister businesses endorse you. This is a trend of social proof you see quite a bit in the food and beverage scene, where different restaurants or vendors will give each other the nod; for example, a brewery will shout out a pizza truck they’re bringing in.
If your brand is looking at giving another the nod, consider whether the two brands make natural friends. For example, would it make sense for a brand like Patagonia to shout out All Birds? Perhaps, if their brands aligned for a similar purpose, such as sustainable practices or utilizing recycled goods in their products. Beyond purpose-driven partnerships, though, there are also surprises that elicit a sense of nostalgia or outside pride; for example, a brand like Nalgene might partner with Nike.
Partnerships not only help a campaign driven by purpose; they can also bring in more Instagram likes and followers to your business. This is crucial in developing a brand voice and narrative that other people can follow along with, improving your image over time. Remember, the more you’re able to make “friends” with other businesses, the more you’re able to utilize their strengths, fusing their audience with yours.
Earned media is essentially any press or media coverage you receive that can help you gain authority with your audience. One of the most classic forms of social proof, earned media gives you the chance to really shine if you get the right placement, providing a voice that’s unmatched. And while it’s nice to have shout-outs from fans and even lower-level influencers, getting an actual media publication to write about you is on a whole different level.
While going after earned media isn’t exactly a direct path to Instagram likes, sharing that you were in the media can be. That’s why it’s vital to start brainstorming a plan that you can use to garner some press and attention. However, the hard part is often knowing where to begin and what to say.
Although you might be thinking that the time to start sending out press releases and introducing yourself to journalists is when you have something to say, there’s actually no better time than right now to start building that relationship. To gain better relationships with the press, go slow and steady, giving them something they can work with. Whether it’s a thoughtful comment on their Instagram page, responding to a survey, or even being utilized in a pull-quote, it’s crucial to get started on those engagements now.
If you haven’t already, start following all the influential journalists, writers, and thought leaders in your field on Twitter and Instagram, as well as studying the type of content that they regularly post. Additionally, try to provide feedback or insights into what they’re writing about, becoming a genuinely engaging participant in their content. If you do this right, people will start to associate your brand with theirs, giving you a sense of earned media without them ever saying a word. Ultimately, however, the goal is to land the “big story.”
After you’ve developed a relationship for a while with a recognized voice, you can finally capitalize on the story you’ve wanted to tell. Depending on your relationship with them, send something over that’s friendly and personable, while still getting to the core, concise message of the story you’re aiming to tell. Ideally, each press release you send should mimic their voice without coming off as plagiarism, giving them something they can easily apply to their column or blog. With the right nets cast, one of them is sure to make a catch.
One example of social proof that’s specific to social media is shareable recommendations and contests. We classify these together since they exhibit a similar behavior, which is that if you share something, you’ll be entered to win/receive something in return. One of the most popular examples of this on Instagram right now is #SuperCashAppFriday, where the popular payment app CashApp invites users to share their illustrated post every Friday with the hashtag #supercashappfriday in exchange for free money via CashApp. Of course, giving away money (legitimately) will always be a winner (which is why they amassed a following so quickly), but that’s not to say you can’t collect similar results from your own engagement projects.
Depending on what type of business you currently run, there are a multitude of contests or shareables you can use. Popular choices include offering a discount for sharing a post (“Share this to your story and get 10% off!”) or running a contest with a shared post (“Share this post and be entered to win free soda for life!”). Additionally, some contests require users to engage with the brand and create content themselves; for example, if it’s Halloween, Netflix might say, “Dress up as your favorite Stranger Things character for an opportunity to meet the cast.” While the variations on the types of contests you can run are endless, the most important thing is that it ties into something that represents your brand as well as your base, providing something they genuinely want to win.
Finally, don’t forget when designing a contest or shareable coupon that all your t’s are crossed and i’s dotted, as there are a multitude of issues you can potentially run into. While contests can be fun, there’s a reason almost all of them are protected by bylines and rules posted in the fine print. Embrace this as an opportunity to really get to know your audience while winning over participation in your brand.
When looking for social proof you can use for Instagram likes, it really depends on the type of content you’re aiming to capture, as well as what type of audience you currently have. With so many different types of examples out there for social proof, there are a multitude of choices that could resonate, which is why you should try as many as you can possibly gain access to. The real question then becomes: Which one should you start with?
In looking at how you should start using social proof, you should first ask what you might have access to. Are you friends with a celebrity from high school? Is an old co-worker now a writer at a magazine? Do you know any customers who can give you a solid review? Any of these can be a helpful starting place, and something to give you a leg up.
If you don’t have any of the above, then start with the most basic: customer reviews. Almost everyone has a customer willing to share their experience (especially for a reward). Don’t hesitate to reach out to a few you think might help you out. Focus your questions around highlighting the experience of your product or service against your competition, homing in on the advantages you offer. Ultimately, you should be looking at this from the perspective of a first-time customer: What would they want to hear? Why would they want to hear it? What separates you from the herd?
After customer reviews, the next most obtainable type of social proof is a contest or shareable. First, see what you can afford to offer in return for sharing; for example, if I have a glass pipe shop, then telling people to share a post in return for a pipe that cost me $10 could yield the equivalent of $30-40 in advertising. That’s a no-brainer for most small-business owners.
Finally, reaching out to celebrities, influencers, media publications, or partners can be a lengthy process, so dedicate some time to getting those verticals off the ground. As every medium of social proof can mean the difference between convincing someone your business is worth a follow and losing a potential customer, this is also the path to consistently getting more likes over time.
What Instagram Likes Mean to Your Business
Instagram likes are the primary authority for a lot of businesses trying to track their ROI on social media. When you think of all the different aspects of engagement on Instagram, likes are the lowest level of social investment. Likes don’t require much thought or even consideration to do—they’re the digital equivalent of a “Good job!” or nod of approval. However, that barometer is often the first metric used to decide how successful a post was.
Ultimately, likes are going to be the first consideration when assessing how well a post did. The biggest point, however, is knowing how to get them in accordance with Instagram’s algorithm. As mentioned above, the quicker you’re able to acquire likes the better, as that means Instagram will most likely pass along your content to other people’s feeds. This is why implementing a hybrid strategy can be important. For example, hiring an agency to buy Instagram likes from real accounts, combined with organic traffic to bolster ranking quickly.
As likes are all about gaining visibility quickly, the other half of that is converting those likes into dollars. This delves into what type of verticals you’re trying to approach, as well as how Instagram can be a direct player in getting people to put money into your pockets. Whether you’re selling a physical item, throwing events, or trying to get people to sign up for your service, the likes your company is getting can be directly correlated to dollars.
When looking at the ROI of likes for your business, consider the following key factors:
No matter where you are with your Instagram likes, having an honest answer about where the numbers are and how they can be improved is crucial.
Are you including hashtags or geotags? Do your captions have a sense of brand voice and relevance? These are the items you need to fill in to ensure that your posts are reaching their maximum potential.
If you’ve been paying for advertising, there’s a direct dollar-for-dollar comparison you can analyze in your metrics, which should help in compiling the bigger picture.
When looking at your traffic-source results, be sure to examine the total cost of organic traffic. For example, are you paying someone to run your social media accounts? Remember, this gets down to brass tacks, where you can directly attribute a dollar amount to results.
Obviously, the point of getting more likes is to steadily improve upon where you’re at, which is why it’s important to set benchmarks for getting there. Pick realistic goals based on where you’re currently at. For example, if your Instagram is getting 200 likes per post on average, then gradual increases of 5 to 10 percent per week would be great. However, if you were only getting 10 to 20 likes per week, then 100 percent returns to a certain threshold might be more realistic. The goal is to steadily grow toward beating out the competition, which should be where you set your sights.
If you’re looking to gain more likes for your business, there are plenty of routes you can go. From using an outside source like an agency to practices you can develop internally, getting more likes can be a cinch. We’ve broken down a few of the top strategies below.
Utilizing a social media agency can be a wise decision, and is perhaps the most popular strategy for acquiring likes quickly. Agencies come in all shapes and sizes, from small operations that work with small businesses to nationally recognized shops that handle accounts for the Coca-Colas and Nikes of the world. Furthermore, different agencies are going to establish different metrics and strategies for your business, which is why it’s important to shop around a bit.
When it comes to social agencies, there are a few different routes you can go:
The first is a traditional advertising/social media agency, which can handle the production of all your creative assets, strategy, and execution. This is essentially a one-stop shop for all your social media needs. These companies are going to be pricey (>$40,000/month minimum), but they come with a whole team that will return top-tier work.
The second type of agency you’ll come across is a growth marketing agency. These companies are great if you have a good idea on strategy or creative assets, but want a boost in trying to land traffic. These are generally metric-driven organizations. They can help you hack organic traffic, either by helping you buy Instagram likes or visitors, or by feeding your profile to other sources on the internet. As they usually offer good value, a growth agency can be a smart call to get a competitive edge.
The third type of agency is an influencer agency. Think of these as advertisers for your social page designed to broker deals with influencers or meme accounts in the hopes of giving you the best ROI. However, influencer agencies are great for consumer products or events, but are not always optimal for service companies.
Finally, there are agencies that advertise themselves as similar to a growth agency, though their main goal is to shovel spam. Avoid these groups, as they’re the most likely to tarnish your name, and may cause more trouble than they’re worth.
Using a bot is something that can get you likes in the short term, but should be avoided at all costs. Not only can this get your Instagram account banned, but it can also lead to a tarnished reputation. Just think of all the times you’ve seen a bot come across your page or someone else’s. Remember the instant feeling of annoyance and distaste? However, that’s not to say there aren’t viable automated solutions.
If you’re looking to grow quickly, utilizing a growth agency with a strong base in organic traffic is a more solid bet than buying Instagram likes or hits using spam-like bots. Essentially, there are ways to game and hack the system using sound digital-marketing techniques that acquire traffic quickly and efficiently rather than trying to flood the market. It’s about adding quality results to your work, keeping things authentic and clean.
This is a classic strategy for social media, in which you simply follow anyone who follows you, as well as like the content of whoever likes your content. While this strategy worked for Lil B, it’s something that can also lead your feed to be flooded with random drivel, and is not a long-term, sustainable solution. Plus, having the same number of followers as those you are following can sometimes diminish your social proof.
A better solution to this is only following those you feel can provide the most valued relationship over time. Essentially, always be asking the question, “Is this someone my business can be friends with?” While you’ll ultimately be left with some fans and some people who feel following each other isn’t worth their time, the base you do pick up will be the most engaged. All in all, filtering candidates in this way makes it easier to create a foundation that won’t crumble.
Another classic strategy, “cycling through” is when you move through pages and like other people’s content without following them, in the hope that they click on your page and follow you. This something that you can pay a bot to do with ease; however, be careful about how many different accounts you set to like, as too much spam can hurt you more than it can help.
A better strategy is to bounce back and forth as a “ghost” follower of someone. This is essentially when you periodically check in on an account to comment on and like their content without giving them a follow, preserving that lucrative followed-to-follower balance. As long as you’re being sincere, this practice will reward your brand.
As stated above, paying an influencer is a smart strategy. Although they come in different price ranges, they can also help bolster traffic to your page. There's a reason why marketers are gearing up to spend over $1 billion on Instagram influencer campaigns in the next year alone.
When looking for the perfect influencer, you should take a strategy similar to what we discussed above with advertising. Try to look at the payment to them in terms of ROI, including what type of audience you’ll receive as well as the total outreach and shares they typically get. We’ll note that most influencers should have these numbers handy (after all, it’s their bread and butter), and any person who can’t really gauge this is not worth your time. Instead, find those who will give you the best bang for your buck, aligning yourself with the crème de la crème of up-and-comers in your industry.
Similar to using an influencer, a brand partnership can help improve traffic to your page, thus giving you more likes. While you want to align yourself with a brand that has a similar ethos and mission to yours, it’s important to always have an ROI in mind. Although generally utilized as a part of a bigger social or marketing campaign, brand partnerships are an excellent strategy for improving your positioning.
When looking for a brand partner, always look at your level in terms of size and stature, with a few names on your “reach” list. Essentially, a brand partner is going to be someone who plays in the same league as you, and is willing to help cross-promote to different audiences. When done right, this is a pretty seamless process, and is like making friends with someone else in your field.
From the looks of it, Instagram doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. As it currently stands, there are over 1 billion active monthly users, and it’s hard to imagine anything cataclysmic that would make them leave en masse. This is why experiments like removing likes from being visible are such great lessons on concepts like social proof. Not only are the people at Instagram able to accurately predict how a decision like that will impact their engagement; they can impact your likes as well.
Ultimately, the goal for Instagram is to grab you attention and keep it for as long as possible. They want you to not only like more photos, but post more content and comments, as well as share more to your story. The more engagement they can earn from you, the more they can acquire data points to learn, thus keeping you locked in and working with the platform. Because of this, decisions like making likes invisible is something they ultimately predict will help everyone in the long term. And while the results may vary, don’t be surprised if this is the first experiment Instagram tries as they vie for your attention.
In the future, expect more features and decisions that result in higher engagement. However, this doesn’t mean that you can ease up on the gas pedal in your quest to get more likes. In fact, the opposite is true. Because Instagram is making decisions that are ultimately testing psychology and behavior, you have to assume that what they’re doing is to increase engagement, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s to the benefit of users like you. It’s always smart to play to the strengths of your content.
The primary thing that will get you likes is simply to create great content.
This is the foundation for any great Instagram account, and what will get you likes every time. Ask whether the content is something that you would not only want to watch or see, but share as well. That means finding the core of your brand, which is the ethos or mission you share with others. If every piece of content rises from that, you’ll be seeing better results every time.
It can be easy to get lost in the mix of all the to-do’s for getting more Instagram likes, so here’s a breakdown of the hierarchy of actions:
We’ll note that since every brand is different, their strategy for obtaining likes is going to change as well. However, the most important thing you can do is simply have fun with this. Although that might sound high-minded, people resonate when content looks like it was made organically, focusing on a genuinely good time. And if you learn how to master that in combination with a solid growth strategy, you’ll be acquiring likes in no time.
What we like on Instagram is primarily going to come from what we’d like in real life. Regardless of the digital medium, the message needs to remain authentic and genuine to our audience, as well as to ourselves. While it’s easy to get caught up in hacks, tricks, and techniques for getting likes, the digital-marketing side needs to complement your storytelling side. Remember, Instagram is a platform about people, and is based on the psychology of behavior and how we behave with one another.
Although Instagram will go through changes, people will largely stay the same. Because of this, it’s much easier to gauge how to game and hack the system when all you’re doing is sticking to the same core message. This is about creating a genuine experience, one where you’re a servant of content. Once you’ve mastered that, the likes will flood in.
What are some strategies that you utilize to acquire Instagram likes? Reach out to us with your insights!