In an effort to encourage users to create better content, as well as minimize the power of influencers and the bogus spam “Likes” they purchase to inflate their value to brands, Instagram and other sites are pursuing the removal of the number of “Likes” that show up on a user’s main feed, profile, and permalink pages. This is an effective measure to encourage creativity and quality content, but while “Likes” are a hot commodity desperately sought after by the average social media user, to the online publisher the value of “Likes” is, at best, minimal.
What’s foremost to an online content producer is number of subscribers, email subscriptions, unique visitors, pageviews, time spent on site, and bounce rate. “Liking” a story adds close to zero value to any of the above.
However, allowing users to “follow” a story or specific subject matter, rather than inconsequentially “liking” it, keeps readers engaged and, ultimately, empowers online publishers. In essence, this “follow” feature allows users to follow the development of stories and their branching topics by inputting their email and selecting how the stories/topics will be delivered, resulting in either a mobile push or e-mail alert.
And, “following” is no small feat. It means the reader has entrusted the publisher with his/her email address, and this trust, coupled with the user’s information, is a publisher’s greatest asset in developing personalization features and fundamentally enhancing the entire user experience. Basically, the entire relationship changes from satisfied readers who occasionally and fleetingly visit your site, to verified users who keep coming back for more. That’s loyalty.
So, say goodbye to “likes” and hello to “follow”. Allowing readers to follow the story/topics of their choice, choose how they are alerted when a relevant story/topic is published or mentioned, and delivering the news right to a reader’s inbox will make you the busy reader’s superhero.