What hidden Instagram ‘likes’ could mean for the future of influencer marketing

At the 2019 Facebook F8 developer conference, it was announced that Instagram is now launching a test to hide Like counts from a select group of Canadian users.

While audiences will not be able to see how many Likes a particular post gets, the owner of the account will still be able to see the total number of Likes a post receives.

The platform change was implemented to encourage users to focus on what content they share, rather than how many Likes they get per post.

But what do hidden Likes mean for the world of influencer marketing? Below, I give my two cents about how I think these changes will affect influencers and marketers around the globe.

More importance placed on Influencer Auditing

Since post Likes will no longer be shown publicly, it makes it extremely important for marketers and businesses to properly audit the influencers that they work with.

When choosing influencers, I like to use online auditing tools like HypeAuditor to make sure that the influencers are a good fit for the campaign.

When auditing, I tend to focus on details about the influencer’s audience, such as geography, authenticity, and interests. I also check to see if the influencer’s followers are growing organically and review the previous brand mentions on their feed.

Once audited, I’ll usually ask influencers to send me their media kit. A media kit is a document containing all relevant information about the influencer, such as audience insights, engagement information, and their usual rates per post, video, story, etc.

Knowing this information allows me to pick the best, most influential people for the campaign and makes it a lot easier to explain influencer marketing ROI to a client.

Less Weight in Vanity Metrics

Let’s face it – the amount of Likes you receive always has been (and always will be) a vanity metric. Vanity metrics refer to metrics that don’t necessarily correlate with things that really matter, such as revenue and profit.

An influencer who has a lot of followers and who receives a lot of Likes on their Instagram posts may seem like a great person to partner with, but marketers need to be wary of whether these statistics will actually bring them closer to achieving campaign goals.

What percentage of followers are interacting with the influencer’s sponsored posts? What percentage are clicking through to your client’s website? What percentage are making a sale?

Since Instagram Likes are no longer out in the open for marketers to see, more importance will be placed on healthier metrics that track audience engagement and sales, such as reach, comments, number of post saves, and number of swipe-ups/link clicks.

More creative content from Influencers

In the last couple of years, Instagram has become a platform where users feel pressured about what content they post and how many Likes their content receives.

This highly competitive space led to many influencers creating generic, unoriginal content that they thought would receive the most Likes, rather than content that they actually wanted to post.

Now that Likes will be hidden, more focus will be given to the actual content that the influencer creates rather than the number of Likes they receive.

This pushes influencers to produce creative content that is unique to them, rather than content that has performed well in the past.

Increased authenticity on the platform

Things such as the creation of “Pods” and the ability to buy Likes have severely lessened the authenticity of influencers on Instagram.

Instagram Pods continue to allow influencers to “game the system” by increasing Like counts and engagement rates on posts.

For those who don’t know, Instagram Pods are direct message groups of influencers who agree to Like and comment on each other’s posts to increase their numbers and engagement.

Now that Likes will be hidden on Instagram, influencers who participate in Instagram Pods may lessen their use “Pod Likes” to increase numbers on their posts.

Along with this, influencers who have previously bought Likes will see fewer benefits from the transactions.

Although I still suspect that Instagram Pods and the buying of Likes will continue, the new platform changes on Instagram may help to lessen the benefits of these tactics, leading to more authenticity on the platform.

Personally, I’m super excited to see how Instagram’s new platform changes will shape the future of Influencer Marketing! How do you feel about hidden Likes on Instagram? Do you think it will enhance or harm influencer marketing?

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