Facebook announced earlier this month that they will be changing the game it started by hiding likes on Instagram posts. Although removing likes rolled out in places like Australia and Japan over a year ago, U.S. residents have just started seeing their likes disappear. While this is mostly a move by Instagram to address the problem of people determining their worth based on the amount of likes they get on a post, brands and influencers alike are also going to have to rethink influencer marketing based on this major change. Below are a few ways we predict Instagram hiding likes can actually change influencer marketing for the better.
Better performance metrics
Brands have a habit of reaching out to influencers who simply receive a lot of likes on their photos, hoping that this ‘vanity metric’ will determine how well a campaign will perform with said influencer. However, likes can actually be more misleading than they seem. Many people who follow an influencer on social media will like a post simply because they want to support the influencer, not necessarily because they like the brand’s service or product. Now that this metric will no longer be accessible, brands may start focusing more on conversions (i.e. when a user clicks the product tag within a post or swipes up), video plays, and comments which are more useful than likes ever were.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen brands start working with a handful of microinfluencers that have around anywhere from 3,000 followers to 200K followers versus one influencer with 1 million. This is because it is found that microinfluencers really have a way of communicating with their audience on a deeper level since people find them more relatable and therefore trustworthy. As brands start to focus less on likes and more on engagement, they will likely start to work with more and more microinfluencers, propelling them in the industry.
Higher quality content
Without the pressure of likes, influencers may also feel more inclined to post more creative content. In the past year, we’ve seen influencers post more branded content on Stories and less in their feeds, since branded content may not get as many likes as their other posts. With more creative freedom to post what the influencer wants instead of obsessing over how many likes it will get, we may start to see more in-feed sponsored posts, which are more valuable to the brand since it doesn’t disappear in 24 hours.
While many people may be applauding Instagram’s effort to consider the mental health of its users, others are not so quick to accept that this is the sole purpose of the platform’s change. Some speculate that this is all Instagram’s way of trying to get people to engage and post more on the platform for the benefit of the business, not technically for the benefit of the user. Also, by hiding likes, brands who work with Instagram influencers as well as businesses who evaluate Instagram’s data will now have to go directly through Instagram to obtain users’ data, which is also a benefit to Instagram itself. While we will never know the true reasons behind Instagram making likes private, there are positives that can come out of this change for users, influencer marketing, and Instagram as a whole, so we’re excited to see how hiding likes impacts all parties in the coming months.