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The thumbs-up button is Facebook’s most recognisable symbol. It’s become so synonymous with the company that it’s hard to imagine using the channel without the Like button. 

Since Facebook launched in 2004 there have been over 1.13 trillion likes – that’s 4.5 billion likes every day and 3,125,000 new likes a minute. Over the past decade, Likes have become the main source of currency, with users chasing them as a status symbol. From getting people to recognise how impressive your new job is to people thinking about how cute your new baby is, they are intrinsically linked to our self-worth.

Research by The Dove Self Esteem Project found that 60% of university students admitted that social media negatively affects their confidence. Social media is often under fire for influencing self-esteem and in doing so, directly influences the content we share and engage with. 

Earlier this year, Facebook and Instagram announced that they are rethinking the Like feature in a bid to make users feel happier about the time they spend on the platform and limit the importance on metrics. 

Are these experiments signalling an end of the era of Likes? And what does this mean for businesses and brands who rely on Likes to increase visibility and reach?  Here are four strategies you can put into place today to ensure minimal disruption. 

Implement a Paid Strategy 

The removal of Likes may result in organic growth being harder to achieve as this reflects the monetisation of social media platforms. With Adore Beauty’s Kate Morris stating that “I expect all of it is tied to getting companies to pay more for advertising and insight… If you build your presence on third-party platforms, you are going to have to pay for it — if not now, then later.” 

Use this testing period wisely and rethink your social media strategy. The removal of Likes signals a pay-to-play motive so consider a paid strategy. If you have budget limitations make sure to prioritise Facebook and Instagram this year to get the maximum yield out of it organically. 

Revamp Your Content

If the removal of Likes from Facebook becomes permanent brands and businesses will have to become more creative and innovative with their content. 

Ensure that your content is well-thought-out and is reaching the relevant people. Delve into your audience’s demographics, engage proactively with them and create content which appeals to them. This will result in more genuine engagements across the board as the customer will value the content more. 

Track Comments 

With these tests having the potential to be rolled out on a wider scale, the only social proof businesses and brands will have to go on is the comments. With users much more likely to hit the thumbs up or heart button than they are to comments, social proof might make a massive nosedive. 

Comments will become more important than ever before, so start coming up with strategies and ideas to generate discussions in your posts. Begin to respond to every comment possible and try to be a community for your audience. 

Build Your Own Lists 

The goal of any business should be to move followers onto a mailing list so they have a way to communicate with their audience regardless of any algorithm changes. 

Consider strategies to reduce reliance on social media platforms. A simple way to do this would be to give followers a free lead magnet that offers substantial perceived value in exchange for their email address. 

Facebook is still very much in the early testing phases, yet the fact this experiment is being rolled out to more and more regions is something to take note of. Whatever happens, there’s certainly room for greater innovation within social media.