Listen to the audio version of this post here.
I can admit it. I want you to like this article.
Even better, I want you to add a comment on my blog or on LinkedIn when I share it there. Or at least click on the thumbs-up icon and give it a “like.”
We all want that, don’t we? Those blog comments and social media Likes are an affirmation of our work. They can feel like an affirmation of our worth. The thumbs-up, the heart on Instagram, the smiling emoji. They all indicate that somebody noticed, appreciated, and even agreed with what we posted.
They also influence how many other people see our work. The more activity there is on my post, the more the algorithms spread it around.
Social networks tap into our desire to be acknowledged. Some of them seem to be admitting that desire can get out of hand, especially for those who are already vulnerable to social pressure. Take teenagers, for example.
Some kids seem to equate their value as a human being with the reaction to their posts and pictures. They can fall into a deep funk for lack of hearts and upward-pointing thumbs.
Responding to criticism about the impact they’re having, Instagram’s been testing reaction-less posting for a couple of years now. They’re finally flipping the switch on a change.
Users can now change their settings on Facebook and Instagram so they don’t see how many Likes other people are getting on their posts. And, one-post-at-a-time, they can hide the Like counts on their own posts.
You’re not alone if you’re under-whelmed by the change.
Even Instagram’s CEO said, “It turned out that it didn’t actually change nearly as much about … how people felt, or how much they used the experience as we thought it would.”
The experts do say this may be a step in the right direction. But people who obsess about social media reactions at a cost to their mental health are not likely to stop obsessing now. Or even to take advantage of the settings that would hide the very information that preoccupies them.
Facebook’s collaborators on this project say the platforms are giving people more control over their social networking experience, along with demonstrating the company’s dedication to mental health and their commitment to ensuring that their users are protected.
All of them are careful to say that those who use social media for marketing are free to continue counting Likes and adjusting their strategy to generate more of them.
We’re not teenagers, after all. As CNN Business put it, “for social media influencers who have built businesses on the app, demonstrating their own like counts — and comparing them with those of other users’ posts — can be important for securing lucrative brand partnerships.”
And also, for securing clients or customers, right?
Plenty of professionals use Instagram to promote their businesses. It can be a great marketing tool, especially if your work has a visual component. Designers and stylists, architects, and authors can show off their creations to attract followers and ultimately customers.
Over on Facebook, you’ll see a lot of paid advertisements and just-plain-posts from coaches of all sorts, online sellers, and local restaurants and retailers looking to bring traffic to their doors.
LinkedIn is the social networking spot for many professionals, of course. And so far, the business networking platform is leaving Likes alone. It’s a good thing, isn’t it?
People who are serious about using LinkedIn to boost their business or career post there regularly. They also reply to what others post. And they pay attention to the responses they get to all of it.
We could have a whole debate about how much difference reactions make. They do seem to have some impact on LinkedIn’s ever-evolving algorithm. The more people who react to a post, the more LinkedIn will make that post visible to other users.
We get traction on the platform when our connections click on a reaction or add a comment to our post.
This is where I turn into a teenager. I wouldn’t call myself obsessed, but I definitely pay attention to what happens after I post on LinkedIn.
Do people Like it? Love it? Support it? Find it Curious or Insightful? Do they offer a comment of their own, or maybe reply to someone else’s comments on my post?
Even if LinkedIn made it possible to hide all that, I surely wouldn’t want to. I can’t imagine you would, either.
I’m fascinated by the responses to my posts. And I enjoy many of the exchanges that develop on LinkedIn. It’s not like meeting for a quick chat in the break room between calls, but at least LinkedIn back-and-forth gives me some sense of connection to others during my work day. That’s important to me.
When it comes to counting Likes and assessing the algorithm’s impact, though, my friend Marti Konstant raised the critical point. “The most important thing to focus on however, is ‘Are there more inquiries for media or business opportunities?’”
I don’t know about you, but my answer is mostly “No.” Yes, it’s happened. Someone has found me on LinkedIn and hired me as a speaker or coach. It doesn’t happen nearly as often as I’d like it to.
How about this? While we’re tracking those Likes and other reactions, let’s keep track of the business they generate too. And if you know how to translate reactions and comments into money-making opportunities, you can share your suggestion in a comment below.