The rumor that Instagram was planning to remove likes has turned out to be true. At the Facebook F8 Developers Conference, Instagram announced that they were testing a feature that would hide likes from all posts. The move is aimed at making Instagram a less competitive space.
This move is expected to change the influencer marketing landscape completely. A big reason for this is that Instagram is the #1 platform for influencer marketing. Hence, any change in Instagram is bound to affect influencer marketing. Before we get into how it’ll affect influencer marketing, let’s see why Instagram is making this change.
Why are Likes Being Removed?
There has been a lot of criticism worldwide about the negative side-effects of social media platforms. The race for more likes on Instagram is just one example of these side-effects. It’s led to lower self-esteem and less real connections.
In a bid to give a push to personal connections and make people worry less about likes, Instagram decided to remove the likes feature. They want the focus to be on creating and sharing quality images and videos rather than the likes that they get. As of now, they are testing this feature in 7 countries, including Canada, Australia, and Brazil.
Effect of Likes Being Removed From Instagram
1. Impact on Engagement
The removal of likes will have a major impact on the engagement rate of posts. Those posts that were doing well instantly were more likely to become successful as people simply jumped onto the “likes” bandwagon. However, now that the likes will be hidden, users won’t be as consumed by the fear-of-missing-out (FOMO). They will be more choosy at liking images and videos.
Image via Later
It will almost be impossible to figure out which post is getting more likes. This might result in posts getting less likes than usual.
For influencers, this means that they won’t be able to bank on just likes to show their engagement. They’ll need other engagement, such as comments, to show brands that they have a highly-engaged audience.
It might be safe to say that the practice of buying or exchanging likes might go away with the introduction of this feature too. The whole purpose of buying likes will become null and void.
2. Things Made Simpler for Agencies
Agencies who are into influencer marketing will likely get a huge boost due to this move. It will likely result in better transparency as creators will have to focus more on creating quality content rather than concentrating just on likes.
At the same time, brands will find it tougher to determine the engagement rates of influencers. In which case, they may prefer to approach agencies.
Agencies have lots of historical data on influencers and their engagement rates. The removal of likes will make this data vital because engagement is a critical metric for checking the success of an influencer marketing campaign.
3. Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories may become more important tools for influencer marketing as they already don’t have the likes feature. Additionally, over 500 million people see them every day. Stories generally feature short videos and some even have images, and they are extremely engaging as well.
The removal of likes may push people to start using Stories even more. Videos are highly engaging, and this makes them favorable for Instagram too. Hence, a push towards Instagram Stories is very likely.
Additionally, with likes being removed as a key performance indicator (KPI), the major ones that will remain are the time spent on the platform, engagement, and views.
Brands such as Jeep are already partnering with major influencers on Instagram, such as Discovery to promote their brand through Instagram Stories.
Image via Instagram
4. Focus on Content
As mentioned before, the focus will shift from likes to the quality of content. Hashtags such as #like4like will likely cease to exist, and instead, quality content will become the main attraction for people.
The quality of the engagement might be judged as well. For instance, on some posts, people just leave a simple emoji or tag someone else. This sort of engagement is poor and posts with such engagement may be pushed down. True engagement between influencers and people may start becoming more important. They’ll likely need to have real conversations through the posts.
This move could improve the engagement between the influencers and their followers. People may start reading captions more often, and influencers may put more effort into engaging with their audiences on a more personal level.
They will have to work harder to create an engaged community and need to put effort into sustaining it as well. It’s already very common to see such communities on YouTube. Instagram influencers can take inspiration from them to create their own loyal fan bases.
You can expect more diverse content to be posted on the platform during influencer marketing campaigns as well. This is because people will look for variety in content rather than just liking posts that already have a lot of likes. Those influencers who are posting repetitive content may not get the sort of leverage they used to, and brands may be forced to look at for other people with whom to partner.
5. Impact on Relationships With Brands
While the likes will not be visible to an influencer’s audience, the influencers themselves will still be able to see them. This makes the process of finding influencers slightly tricky for brands. Previously, brands were able to take the number of likes into account to help them determine the effectiveness of an influencer.
However, now they will need to rely on other metrics to decide if an influencer is worth partnering with or not. This means that brands will have to rely on influencer marketing platforms more to find genuine influencers in their niches.
6. Rise of Influencer Marketing Platforms
Brands will soon start turning to influencer marketing platforms such as Influence.co, BuzzSumo, and BuzzStream to find influencers in their categories. Those platforms which offer better analytics and give brands more information on the demographics of the influencer’s audience will likely be popular choices.
Some influencer marketing platforms can also provide detailed insights into the progress of influencer marketing campaigns. This makes them even more useful because brands will find it difficult to figure out how successful their campaigns are without seeing the number of likes. Without these platforms, brands will need influencers to be completely transparent with their metrics.
While the removal of likes from Instagram is only being tested at the moment, it could soon become a reality for all users. That’s why it’s crucial for influencers to start creating quality content that can drive real engagement.
Brands may also find it difficult to find reliable influencers without the use of influencer marketing platforms. The value of Instagram Stories may increase as well as they already don’t include likes and are highly-engaging. Agencies will benefit from this move as they have lots of historical data that can be useful for brands.
What are the other ways through which influencer marketing will change due to the removal of likes? Do you think Instagram will implement this feature for all users? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.