30-second summary:

  • Back in November 2019, Instagram removed “Likes” in order to improve engagement, boost mental health, and user participation.
  • As influencer marketing by its nature was very reliant on the likes count, it is still proving to be one of the best ways for marketing in the COVID-19 situation.
  • So how have Instagram influencers managed to measure performance?
  • Founder of Spark Eighteen Lifestyle Pvt. Ltd shares some observations and insights with examples.

Likes have been an important part of influencers’ businesses and the removal of Instagram likes has impacted them both positively and negatively. Due to this change, we can see them moving to new platforms.

In November 2019, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri provided an official statement of expanding the test of hiding “likes” to more markets around the globe. The statement came months after the initial implementation of the idea in countries like Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand. Currently, it is being tested in India as well and only a few accounts can see this feature in their accounts.

Why did Instagram feel the need to do that?

Since the beginning “Likes” had been an important algorithm to check engagement on the posts. Therefore, the removal of it will make a huge impact on how users will engage with posts.

According to CNBC, Facebook, (which owns Instagram) has touted this move as an effort to reduce bullying on the popular social app. While other experts feel that Instagram’s take on hiding likes will make users feel less self-conscious about their posts not getting much engagement.

Some also argue that it will lead to more people sharing content while not thinking about the number of likes they want to achieve on it. It will create a more healthy environment online.

In the end, social media is a place where one should feel free to express themselves and not feel pressurized by the number of likes they should possess.

Also, it is important to note that, you can still see the number of likes on your posts — just not others. This makes it problematic for some Influencers who often gauge on likes to see how well a post is performing. How will the phenomenon of Instagram hiding likes affect them?

The effect as seen on influencers

Likes are important for an Influencer. It gives validation to their work.

Influencers have always seen likes as a measure of performance. Since likes as a phenomenon will be no more, these influencers will have to search for better ways to engage with their audience or maybe just focus on meaningful content eh?).

According to Business Insider, several influencers may haven’t seen any change in their business and brand deals. The influencers who have been affected are already seeing a lesser number of likes on their posts which makes it harder for them to reach new audiences.

Think of it from a marketing perspective. Although influencers might still be able to see likes on their posts, brands and agencies will have to create direct access to find out this information.

Brands and agencies approaching an influencer can see the number of followers they have but that metric alone cannot define how “engaged” an audience is.

Likes are powerful. If we see a post that has a huge amount of likes, it instantly becomes attractive and grabs our attention. But now organic growth will be paid more attention.

Shift of social media platforms

With the growth of social media platforms, it is very clear to assume that Instagram is not alone in the game. It might be the most popular social app currently but it will not take any other app much time to take over.

Take TikTok for example. Many influencers have shifted their gear towards this platform for the major advances it provides.

It has only been three years since the app has been in the market and it is already growing at an immense rate. Over a billion people now use this social media platform worldwide. @lorengray, American singer and social media personality is now TikTok’s most successful account outside China, with 42.1 million fans.

With influencer marketing reaching TikTok, the app has provided a platform for influencers to make content and generate an audience through it. Since the app has such a wide reach, brands want to find ways to promote their products here. What better way than through an influencer, right? There were a lot of hashtags in the past that worked amazingly well on Tik Tok.

Example of #toofacedpartner

Instagram influencer marketing #toofacedpartner

Influencers posted videos of themselves doing makeup routines with a before and after demonstrating their transformations. A lot of famous influencers participated in this campaign and the reach was a staggering 35 million TikTok users. The campaign’s tag has so far got a relatively meagre 9.4 million views and was a huge success. (Source: MediaKix)

Did you know that TikTok influencers with 2.5 million or more followers charge $500-800 per post? On the other hand, Instagram influencers earn an average of $100 per 10000 followers. ( Source: 99Firms )

Also, even Instagram promotes itself on Tik Tok.

Other than TikTok the other two growing platforms, Snapchat and Pinterest, are also making moves in the market. The US Snapchat users in January 2020 stood at over 101 million. On the other hand, 58% say that Pinterest helps them make shopping and purchasing decisions. (Source: Sprout Social )

So it looks like Instagram might have to face some competition.

What new can we look forward on Instagram?

Loyalty over Likes

Brands build relationships with influencers who have better engagement. Somehow, likes have been seen as a way to measure engagement. It isn’t true since you cannot judge how the audience is engaging with a user only through likes. The removal of likes will help a brand understand if the influencer has a loyal and trustworthy audience or not. The engagement rate will play a huge role here.

Shivesh is a self-taught baker and a food blogger. He posts amazing recipes on his social media channels. He gives importance to the visual part while presenting anything on Instagram and that is the major reason why people connect with him. Apart from this, he helps his audience with delicious recipes as well.

More meaningful content

Likes grab attention but what will an influencer do if likes aren’t visible anymore? Maybe focus on meaningful and real content? Instagram will be a much better place if users start focusing on the right content.

Studies show that people are influenced by authentic and relatable content that brands and influencers can easily generate. For example, Ranveer Allahbadia of beer biceps leaves no stone unturned when it comes to helping people with fitness, fashion, motivation, health, and lifestyle-based content.

Instagram influencer marketing creating more meaningful content

Not focusing on vanity measures anymore

Likes are already out of focus and it’s high time that people stop focusing on metrics like follower counts as well. It will help users not focus on whether they are having more followers/like and focus on other relevant stuff. This will create a more positive and healthier space online.

With this shift on Instagram, brands can focus on real marketing and look ‘behind the scenes’ at how a creator is performing. Some of the key areas that they can focus on are:

  • Comments: It includes the conversations built up by influencers with their audience and helps in tracking the engagement with them.
  • Insights: Ask for metrics of how the posts are performing and evaluate them through the number of saves, shares, and reach.

Follower growth

Insight on the increase in followers in past months/ weeks can give you a fair idea of how well audience is willing to connect with a particular influencer Brands and influencers can seek the help of these tools to measure metrics and ways to measure performance.

Keyhole

It helps marketers measure the impact of social media & influencer campaigns. It also helps you figure out which of your internal trends are providing the best results, giving you a glance into what activities are driving the most follower growth over time.

Iconosquare

It is a paid app that provides analytics and tools to grow your business on Instagram and Facebook. It also offers post scheduling and content planning tools and helps in understanding how your posting frequency relates to or drives either new followers or ones that are lost. There are many more tools. You can also use Instagram’s built-in analytics section which gives accurate data.

For so long, Influencers (and even normal users) have relied on likes as a measure to check progress. Instagram, by hiding likes, has given hope for a better online environment.

Although, it may (or may not) completely change the game for some influencers online. Any which way, we are looking forward to what will be this new deal.

What are your views on this feature, let us know in the comments.

Aayush Narang is the founder of Spark Eighteen Lifestyle Pvt. Ltd a digital marketing agency. He is a startup evangelist, an entrepreneur, business and tech enthusiast.



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