Instagram ‘like’ removal could alter influencer marketing strategies

Instagram recently confirmed that it would be carrying out a number of trial updates to the app – and has since announced that its test of hiding ‘likes’ on posts would be expanded to a number of new markets around the world. 

The Facebook-owned social media site explained back in April that it would be kicking off the test as a means of fostering “a less pressurized environment” on the app. Instagram chief Adam Mosseri alluded to this in a statement, in which he commented: “We want people to worry a little bit less about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram and spend a bit more time connecting with the people that they care about.”

The changes will mean that individual users can view their own analytics – in terms of likes – but will be unable to view how many likes someone else’s post received. The news could therefore mean that influencers and affiliates will have to break from current marketing techniques and place, with the focus shifting towards sales figures. 

Typically, influencers often utilise the number of likes and followers for posts to prove to potential clients that they can reach a wide audience. Without the number of likes to prove engagement, it could possibly become much more difficult for potential clients to see their worth immediately, but at worst, it could make their work completely worthless. 

The change could possibly have the intended effect of fostering a more ‘healthy’ environment, however it may also offer further incentives for bigger brands to offer paid media support to its influencer posts, and also shift the focus of marketing strategies towards Instagram Stories, the video and photo posts that are only live on Instagram temporarily.

Social Native founder and CEO David Shadpour detailed in an email that the test of hiding likes goes in line with the Facebook and Instagram strategies of pushing users to “Stories.”

“The goal of Facebook and Instagram is to push users to Stories, since they believe the future is in short form videos, not static images or [the] News Feed. 

“Because of this, they’re focusing on strategies to increase consumer consumption rate of video, get more creators making videos, and increase ROI of advertisers leveraging video.”

Shadpour explained that the intrinsic value placed upon Instagram likes is beginning to fade, and that the new move will further drop that value. 

“By reducing the focus on likes as an indicator of success, creators will have more creative control — focusing on content and transitioning their content towards video,” he said.

“With that shift, metrics will also have to shift. Time spent on the platform, engagement, views and other metrics will prevail as KPIs.”

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