How will removing the 'likes' on Instagram impact Influencer Marketing?

Last April, Instagram announced that they were testing a new feature that would hide the number of likes users receive on their posts.

Remember this egg? It holds the title of the most liked picture on Instagram.
But soon, it may soon be thrown into oblivion… 💔

Before starting, here is a short recap for those who have no idea what we are referring to.

Last April, Instagram announced that they would be testing a new feature that would hide the number of likes users receive on their posts. Launched in Canada, the tests later expanded to Italy, Ireland, Brazil, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
Instagram explained that the reason behind the move was the desire to have users who "focus on shared photos and videos, not the number of likes they receive."


Likes are the de facto way to measure the value of a post. Users then tend to focus on posting photos that increase their engagement rate rather than posting content they really like. Unfortunately, most of us may agree that likes have become a way to assess self-esteem - although it can boost you, it can sometimes have the opposite effect.
Removing the ability to see the number of likes you receive will (hopefully) take some of that pressure off you: you will no longer feel embarrassed or forced to delete a post simply because it did not receive the number of likes you wished for (which most of us should admit to have done).

But what exactly does the “necessary amount” of likes mean? Are you ever really satisfied?

At first I remember feeling proud when I passed the 50 likes mark. Today, if my post does not receive a minimum of 200 likes, I question my entire social existence (I'm kidding of course ...).
How many likes did my friend get? Who liked who's post? How long did it take for x number of likes? Unnecessary comparisons that all lead to disappointment ... I therefore welcome the decision to deactivate the number of likes (if they really do).
Although comparing and counting likes is sometimes very entertaining (we are all delighted that the photo of an ex has fewer likes…), it ultimately does more harm than good to our ego.


It won’t really (or not as much as you’d think).
Since Instagram provides users with in-depth analysis, brands should not judge influencers value by the number of likes they receive per post, but rather by the reach of their posts.
Of course, one may be tempted to infer the influence's reach based on the number of "likes" they receive. The only thing that could change then is the initial approach of the "brand/influencer relationship”: instead of waiting to be approached by a brand, the influencers may have to contact them themselves and share with the brand their stats as evidence (which most brands need anyway).

Despite not extensively changing they way an influencer does business; removing likes should (hopefully) incite influencers to reevaluate the kind of original content they want to provide their followers with - now that the pressure to create "like worthy" content is hindered.

Although saying we will for now on only see genuine and raw content might be stretching it, influencers will be able to shift their point of interest beyond impressing people with the obscene amount of likes they receive when posting a picture featuring their #sixpack and barely visible sunset, to posting creative driven content, which would probably receive less likes, but will result to an increased engagement rate in the long term - as authenticity always leads to to higher engagement.


Influence fraud: influencers who use bots to boost engagement and pretend they are more popular than they actually are.
According to Cheq, a cybersecurity company specializing in the digital media universe, influencer fraud can cost them up to $1.3 billion (it deserves a completely different article).
While Instagram has penalized Instagrammers who use these illegal and unethical practices, it hasn't stopped users from continuing to use these services.
With this new strategic implementation, Instagram has effectively removed the need for Influencers to simulate their popularity by hiding the number of likes - although this could push users to use other means.

Although this was just a test, Instagram's decision is admirable - the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.
Hiding the number of “likes” could also be somewhat lucrative for the app, as it could encourage marketers to invest more money in paid advertising on Instagram instead of just using influencers like marketing tools.

So in the end, go ahead and torture yourself while waiting for the likes to arrive on your newly posted Instagram photo - neurotically refreshing the page hoping to see the number of likes increase. Yes, you have already done so; just like me.

Guillaume François @WOÔ

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