Instagram has announced that it would test removing like counts in the United States. It already began removing likes in other countries earlier this year. Users will still be able to see how many likes they have on their own photos, just not on others’ photos.
Many people view this as a positive move for Instagram. The platform began as a way to share imagery and connect with like-minded individuals. Now, it’s morphed into a popularity contest in which individuals feel pressure to earn as many likes as possible on their photos. As a result, these changes have led to many users manipulating their follower count and engaging in comment pods to increase engagement.
For influencer marketing, the change couldn’t have come at a better time. The industry has placed too much emphasis on vanity metrics, such as likes. Here are a few ways we see influencer marketing evolving as a result of Instagram’s removal of likes.
Fake Likes and Followers Will Decline
Many brands have relied on vanity metrics such as followers and likes to assess an influencer’s value. As a result, many influencers purchase fake followers to inflate these metrics and bolster their audience. Brand marketers have tried to address this problem, asking influencers to sign contracts declaring they haven’t purchased fake followers or engaged in comment pods.
Unfortunately, this method isn’t full-proof, and accounts with inflated likes and followers still exist.
This new change can help to remove the inauthenticity that currently exist in influencer marketing. Influencers may feel more motivated to craft meaningful, creative content. In addition, brands and influencers can work together to focus on the metrics that really impact a campaign, like traffic and sales.
Influencers Will Return to Their Own Platforms
Many influencers started as bloggers. Over time, Instagram became an extension of their brands, eventually becoming the primary platform for many. They began investing most of their time building a strong Instagram audience.
As with any social platform, influencers are subject to changes in algorithms and features that are outside of their control. It’s likely only a matter of time until we see other social networks follow in Instagram’s footsteps.
The removal of likes is a good reminder that the only platform influencers can fully control is their own websites. Influencers should use social networks to share content but ultimately drive followers to their platforms.
Brands Will Diversify Their Strategies
Instagram is a visual platform, making it a natural fit for many brands and their products. Because of its popularity, many have put only put influencer marketing dollars towards Instagram.
This change presents an opportunity for brands to diversify their campaign strategies and think outside of the box. Where else are customers going for information?
It also can help brands improve their processes. How can they better identify the right influencers to work with?
This change shouldn’t hurt influencer marketing. In fact, it may bring back the authenticity and creativity that makes influencer marketing so appealing. Any experienced influencer or agency will still have the performance metrics to demonstrate their worth. Brands, however, will have to do their homework and get their questions answered prior to signing any contracts.
Unsure how Instagram’s change will affect your influencer marketing campaigns? Want to make sure you’re finding the right partners? Talk with our influencer marketing team.