bye bye instagram likes

Bye, Bye Instagram Likes…

The Tides are Turning.

Nothing stays the same.  Every day, everything around us is different than the day before.  And, some things are good, while others aren’t so good.  Like, when the sun comes out after a day of snow.  That’s good.  But, I didn’t remember to eat that ripe avocado yesterday, and today, well, you get the idea…

instagram likes have been removed from posts
Today changes came with Instagram, a change that we knew was coming but what many (read: most) Instagrammers were hoping would never come. Likes have been a staple metric to show just how great your photography skills (or that of your professional photographer, like those at Gold Lens Media) are or how amazing your food is… the more the likes, the better you feel about yourself, right? Well, I know it’s not just about self-gratification, it’s also about how much more attractive your Instagram posts seem to be when they have 100 likes versus 10.  And, it is believed that the more likes a post has, the more attention it will get. But, Instagram, in their ongoing research, found that there were some negatives around this too.

You see, it’s become a competition.  And as Instagram CEO, Adam Mosseri, states, there needed to be some de-pressurization to make it a safer environment for the generation that uses it the most: Gen Z (those aged 24 and under).

Side Note:  Per research compiled by Marketing Charts, while Instagram is very much a youth-oriented platform, it’s worth noting that more 30-49-year-olds say they use Instagram more than they use Pinterest, LinkedIn or Twitter.  Interesting!

The Silver Lining

So, here’s the good news. You will still see how many likes you have received on a post (they are only hidden from the public) and from those numbers you will be able to determine, just as you are now,  which posts are the top performers and which you could benefit from boosting or using in a seperate ad.

What this also means, is that incorporating Instagram (and Facebook) Stories into your social media mix is even more imperative to your success on social media. And, it’s also worth noting that Stories don’t have public facing metrics either (and they are going gangbusters!).

What do you think of this change?  Has it hit your city yet?  Let me know in the comment below.

Gold Lens Media Review

Biz Shout Out!

If you are in the Atlanta, GA area, check out Gold Lens Media for your real estate photography and video tour needs. They are, hands down, the best of the best. We get amazing engagement when we use their images and videos on our client's Instagram posts (and Stories).

Visit Gold Lens Media on Instagram to see their latest real estate photography or visit www.goldlensmedia.

Not every instagram image is created equal

Everything You Need To Know About What Makes (or Breaks) an Instagram Image

Not Every Image Is Created Equal

Over the course of my 10+ years  working exclusively within social media marketing, I have gained a lot (read: A LOT) of experience.  Experience, however, doesn’t mean all good outcomes, all the time; it means I had to go through many iterations, many losses and just as many misbeliefs to finally reach a true understanding of what causes an image to be a winner versus a flop.  But I was on a mission to win.

Experience [verb] : to learn by experience - "I have experienced that a landscape and the sky unfold the deepest beauty>"

— Nathaniel Hawthorne

You see, in 2016, when I led the social media team of ten marketers at, the then CEO, Ryan O’Hara, approached me and informed me that the CEO of Newscorp (Robert Thomson) wanted me to take our Instagram account and absolutely dominate it in the real estate industry.  At the time, we had approximately 60,000 followers, while our number one competitor, Zillow, had over 150,000.  We had some work to do, but I was willing to do what it took to crush it.

From 2016 through 2019 we learned everything we could about Instagram, testing, tweaking, studying our results, refining and perfecting, studying some more.., with the support and help of my amazing team and CMO, we didn’t just surpass our competitors, we obliterated them!  When I left, in September 2019, we had not only surpassed Zillow’s follower count, but we were now beating theirs by over 150,000 followers – the numbers had reversed – and we had 470,000 followers and counting!

beating your competition on instagram

Remember: Follower Count isn't Everything

When it came to real estate images, through all of this experience, we discovered what consumers were really attracted to and honed in on this to keep growing our followers, and also our engagement rates. Which brings me to a really important point.  

It was important to not just be obsessed with our follower growth.

Ensuring that our increased number of followers were not just lookers, but also engagers was (and still is) critical to the health of our (and any) Instagram account. We knew we needed to consider not only our image but also the descriptions that accompanied them.

In fact, for most social media platforms (I think Snapchat and TikTok are the exceptions here) it’s the context of the post and not the image that will attract engagement.  So we also focused on working diligently on how we constructed the context of our feed posts too – and, again, through many iterations and testing, we discovered how to best interact with our audience and get them to engage with our content.  And through this discovery, we were able to take our engagement rate to under 1% to consistently over 5%.  When the average brand has an engagement rate of less than 1%, that’s a pretty big deal!

What to look for in a winning Instagram image

Example 1

(Slide finger or mouse on arrow button to see both images)

what to look for in a good instagram imagewhat to look for in a good instagram image

Top Image:  4,033 likes | Bottom Image:  1,925 likes

Images courtesy of @GrandfatherHomes
  1. Ok, first of all… What a house!
    This first image was taken at a fairly good time of day at a great elevation, to capture each level of the property plus the home in its entirety.  I would say, however, that it may have been a touch better if the sun was shining at the time the image was taken. As you can see in the second image, the image was taken at a sub-optimal time of day which produced strange lighting effects and was not shot head on or at a high resolution.
  2. When taking images of the front elevation of a home, you want to ensure that you get the entire home in the picture when the image is cropped down to 1:1 ratio.  Images that are either vertical (or portrait) or square are always best on Instagram – horizontal (or landscape) images take up less ‘real estate’ on the Instagram feed, and are harder to see in general.  
  3.  Because the first image was taken with a drone, it allows your eyes to go straight ahead and you take in the entire picture from the center and then out.  This is what you want your audience to do – have a definitive focal point (in this case the front door) and then look around.  Kind of like a heat map on a webpage – visitors normally focus their attention to the top 1/3 of the page and then travel down on the left hand side.  
what to look for in a good instagram image
Click image to view on Instagram
what to look for in a good instagram image
Click image to view on Instagram

Example 2

(Slide finger or mouse on arrow button to see both images)

what to look for in a good instagram imagewhat to look for in a good instagram image

Top Image:  3,541 likes | Bottom Image:  2,105 likes

Images courtesy of @McCleanDesign
  1.  Can I live here – right in that pool?!
    The essence of these images are extremely simple – luxury life.  There’s no denying what they convey or what they invoke – a sense of awe and desire.  Knowing what your audience is attracted to is probably your number one goal.  Delivering it is number two.  The sun is shining, the pool is gleaming…  
  2. If you are reading this on your desktop, you probably are noticing how the first image is much larger and easier to digest than the second.  This brings us back to the orientation of the image again.  The first is a square image while the second is horizontal (landscape).  I believe these two examples shows the magnitude of how orientation can really affect the viewers enjoyment.
  3.  While the first image is a close up and has a definitive focal point (the chairs in the pool is where my eyes lead me), the second image is another drone shot, but this time has no focal point and your eyes travel all over the place.  While it’s a gorgeous view, it’s hard to really decipher anything in particular other than it has a pool.
what to look for in a good instagram image
Click image to view on Instagram
what to look for in a good instagram image
Click image to view on Instagram

So, to break these examples down, the three things we would take into consideration in choosing which image to use are as follows:

  • Optimal Lighting 
  • Orientation of image
  • Focal Point

Here’s some more examples of excellent images that meet all the requirements to make a great Instagram post:

Likes: 23k

Beautiful sunset

Great angle showcasing the entire home within the image. Image courtesy of @groveparkconstruction

View on Instagram
Likes: 26k

Excellent Lighting

Dream kitchen with interesting features, lit perfectly to embrace all the beauty.
Image courtesy of @stallonemedia

View on Instagram
Likes: 24k

Playfully Alluring

Perfect lighting within the room capture an emotional reaction. Image courtesy of @decor_for_kids

View on Instagram
Likes: 27k

Great Focal Point

Very unique image of a fireplace within a shower, draws your eyes in. Image credit unknown.

View on. Instagram
Likes: 27k

Exceptional Detail

This shower has it all, with the dramatic skylight to the wood and planters. Image courtesy of @mantisdesignbuild

View on Instagram
Likes: 14k

The Essence of the Holidays

Dusk lighting, Christmas lights adorned, this image captures your attention. Image courtesy of @atlanta_photographer

View on Insatagram

Have additional questions about how to dominate Instagram with the most captivating images for your specific audiences?  Send us a message below, or click the yellow chat button on the bottom right of this page to contact us right now.

Instagram Direct Is About To Get A Lot Better

Facebook Messenger has been getting a lot of love and attention over the past few years. But, now it looks as though Zuckerberg is being more attentive to Instagram’s Direct messaging.

Per Adweek, the social network will be adding some new features to Instagram Direct messages, making using the Facebook family of apps easier for small businesses to better manage their customer communications.

New features will include labels, search, and folders to help businesses stay organized.  However, my favorite additions will be the ability to implement instant replies, away messages and the simplicity of using saved replies of frequently asked questions.


This is in addition to some upcoming features being added to Instagram‘s desktop experience, including the ability to use Instagram Direct.  But, after conducting a little research, it seems that either people don’t ever use the desktop version of Instagram, or didn’t even know it existed!  So, I’m not seeing how this is a very big deal, but hey, what do I know? 😉

Personally, I’m really looking forward to when Instagram Direct is given even more love… like incorporating the ability to activate a chatbot like we can over on Facebook Messenger.  And integrate/link together Instagram Direct with Facebook Messenger so that they (and even Whatsapp) can be used as a single platform.  Or at least that they speak with one another so that what is typed on one platform is automatically pulled into the others. I’m sure these features are coming, but what’s taking so long?!

What feature(s) are you expecting to see rolled out with private messaging in the coming months?