What Instagram Hiding Like Numbers Means For Influencer Marketing
If you’re an Instagram user in Canada, you have likely noticed a pretty significant change while scrolling your feed.
The ubiquitous like counts usually found hovering underneath posts have disappeared. No longer can you see how many thousands of likes Kylie Jenner’s latest selfie has garnered. You’ll just have to guess how many people liked your BFF’s engagement photo. You won’t even see how many people liked your own photo without making a concentrated effort to tap through and see the number.
Obviously, this represents a huge shift in the way Instagram functions, how people interact with the platform, and what dictates a “successful” Instagram post.
But how will removing like counts affect social media influencers?
In the past, an influencer’s clout was largely determined by how many likes their posts would receive. Without the information on display, how will brands and followers know if an influencer is getting enough engagement to be worth their time?
We discuss everything you need to know about hiding the like count on Instagram and how it will affect influencer marketing right here. Read on to find out more!
What exactly has happened?
First, let’s discuss exactly what has gone down before we get into how it might affect influencer marketing.
In April 2019, Mark Zuckerberg, Overlord of both Facebook and Instagram, announced a trial for Instagram where like counts would be hidden across the entire platform. The trial would only take place in Canada, with an unspecified number of users to take part. By May 2019, the trial had rolled out and was actually a lot larger than originally thought – some 70% of Canadian Instagram users could no longer see likes.
The Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, revealed they were implementing the trial to try and combat cyberbullying that has plagued both Facebook and Instagram since the dawn of time. The intention is that by removing like counts, Instagram will become “a less pressurized environment”, where self-worth is tied directly to how many likes your post got.
Not only will this hopefully help people share more authentic content not exclusively designed to farm likes, but it will also give users a mental break from the social media rat race where likes are the only thing that matter.
Can I still see my likes?
So if like counts are hidden for all the people you follow, can you see how many people liked your own photos?
The short answer is yes, the cold hard number of likes your post received is still viewable. However, you will now have to actively seek out this information on every post by tapping on ‘others’ under the post where likes used to appear. This will display a list of people who have liked your post along with the actual number at the top of the screen.
You could, in fact, manually count how many people liked another person’s photo if you really wanted to, but this becomes impractical when you are dealing with the potentially millions of likes Instagram royalty like Selena Gomez and Justin Beiber pull in on a regular basis.
How will this affect influencer marketing?
The million dollar question now is of course ‘How will this impact influencer marketing?’.
This is an interesting question to consider, especially being a digital marketing agency that specializes in influencer marketing. On the one hand, likes helped to gauge overall engagement that an influencer was achieving with their followers, which is one of the most important metrics involved in influencer marketing. On the other hand, likes are easy to artificially inflate through certain underhanded means, and the effect on one’s mental health of constantly seeking validation through likes can’t be ignored either.
With that in mind, here are a few ways the Great De-Likening will affect influencer marketing.
Content is King
Perhaps the biggest way that influencer marketing will be affected will be the actual content that influencers share.
When like counts were still public information, it became a competition to get as many likes as possible, and the content usually suffered as a result. Only highly curated, artificial, and overly staged posts would make the cut, guaranteed to generate the most likes by appealing to the broadest audience.
Now that like counts are hidden, this gives influencers more leeway to post more authentic, organic, and personal content without having to worry about a post “failing” by not getting enough likes. This has the potential to actually improve engagement, as followers begin to see a different side of the influencer and begin to feel closer to them – a process known as parasocialization. This can work for brands wanting to use influencer marketing as well, as branded posts from these influencers can capitalize on this increased engagement and sense of connection.
Mental health reminder
Another important aspect of the like count hiding is mental health benefits for both users and influencers.
Since the beginning, all social media has had a competitive edge to it, with gamification elements such as like counts and badges pushing everyone to get as many likes as they could. What started out as a fun way to show your appreciation of your friends’ content and a little feel-good moment when you got a like back has turned into a pressure-cooker environment where people are constantly competing to get the most likes.
By hiding likes, this pressure is removed and users are free to engage with whatever they want and post content that isn’t designed to exclusively draw in the likes. This will hopefully improve the mental health of influencers and make them more effective at their jobs, not to mention easier to work with.
More sophisticated engagement analysis
With like counts a thing of the past, both influencers and brands will need to turn to more sophisticated means of assessing engagement with their followers.
There are a range of different engagement tools that have sprung up over the past few years with the aim of providing accurate follower analysis for both brands and influencers. These tools can break audiences down by demographics and geographical location, as well as provide insight into the average number of likes or comments a post will typically get. All of these statistics will be vital in choosing influencer/brand partnerships that will benefit both parties – influencers want to post content that is congruent with their image, and brands want to get their products in front of the right audiences that are likely to convert.
With or without like counts, influencer marketing is here to stay. Hiding like counts will simply help influencers produce better, more authentic content, while at the same time providing mental health benefits for both influencers and followers. How brands capitalize on this brave new Instagram world is up to them.