While Instagram remains the king of B2C social media and influencer marketing, the decision to remove likes is a monumental shift for the platform. In 2019, Instagram concluded its trial run of hidden likes in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, Japan and Brazil; the update has officially started rolling out in the United States.
In this update, Instagram has made the metrics for public likes visible only to the influencer or profile owner. The previous “like counter,” which was located under the image or video, will no longer be available.
Instagram cited two reasons for the change: 1) to “put less pressure on people,” which will improve the mental health of their users and 2) to combat the fake engagement industry, where influencers are able to buy likes and comments to boost their posts’ engagement.
Does Hiding Likes Really Matter?
Short answer: No.
Likes are a vanity metric, not a clear indicator of success. In fact, there is little correlation between high numbers of likes equaling consumer attention or increased sales.
Influencer marketing practitioners already emphasize high-attention metrics – including click-throughs, saves, and comments. More meaningful evaluations, such as consumer sentiment, content quality, and audience relevance also come to the forefront when determining influencer partnerships and campaign success.
With all social networks leaning toward emphasizing comments and shares over likes, it’s never been more important to post organic content that creates and fosters healthy conversation. We know that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from their peers on social media over any form of advertising, so there is tremendous value in brands leveraging their customers, partners, employees and influencers to help share their messaging and drive positive conversation.
How Will Influencer Marketing Change?
High-attention engagement metrics on sponsored posts – such as click-through rate, view-through rates, swipe-up engagements with stories, conversion rates, and video completion rates – will take precedence.
With a push for high engagement numbers, micro-influencer campaigns will continue increasing. There will be more and more campaigns working with 50 or more micro-influencers who reach an audience of less than 100,000, rather than a few macro-tier influencers (who usually lack high engagement).
It’s also important to remember that users will still be able to see their own likes. If you’d still like to include this metric, it can be requested with other hidden metrics from influencers when they share their backend analytics.
Instagram hiding likes means it’s even more important to build long-term relationships with your influencers, so they’re providing metrics you can trust. This also creates more authentic content and builds a better connection to your influencers’ audiences versus one-off posts that clearly aren’t natural.
Likes should not determine campaign success, so their removal will not make much of an impact on the influencer market. Other engagement metrics will continue to determine influencer performance and drive influencer marketing campaigns. But if the removal of likes remains a concern, we encourage a Tik Tok influencer campaign, where likes remain a visible engagement.
To learn more about Tik Tok, check out: How Marketers Can Maximize the Newest Social Media Craze: Tik Tok