In July, photo-sharing giant, Instagram, announced that they would be testing out a feature; hiding the total number of likes and video views, on some accounts. This included trials in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand.
Why is this change being introduced?
In the test, users were only able to see the number of likes on their own posts, hidden from everyone else. A spokesperson from Instagram told TIME magazine that the Facebook-owned platform “…want your followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.”
A number of studies have been conducted to learn about the effects of likes of Instagram on the development and mental health of young people. These studies revealed that smartphone notifications cause the rush of chemical dopamine we get from gambling and similar activities.
This, teamed with Instagram’s features to crack down on bullying which occurs on the app aim to support the mental wellbeing of its primarily younger user-base. The photo-sharing platform has been introducing new features over the past few years to try and work on their duty of care to their users.
What do brands think?
So what does this mean for brands? Well, many believe that it will actually put more pressure on brands to deliver more meaningful and higher quality influencer marketing, instead of relying on vanity metrics.
Instead of being a permanent irritation, removing likes could be more of a growing pain, akin to updating the interface of your favourite social media platform, for example. Eventually, you get used to it, but you have to find a way to work with it rather than against it.
What do influencers think?
Influencers, of course, were not happy about the prospect of losing the thousands and even millions of likes they rack up, on each image and video. After all, for many, Instagram plays a huge part in their livelihood and income.
Influencer sponsored posts allows them to profit from brands and removing the likes, one of the key metrics for success, can hurt their business.
Research conducted by influencer agency, Obviously, showed that 62% of influencers were spending the same amount of time on creating content. They also noted that the test could result in a positive impact on increasing the overall quality of content as a whole.
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Will the changes put a dent in people selling Instagram likes and followers? These Instagram likes can be used to increase clout as an influencer or brand and make your account appear more popular. After all, not many users want to be the first person to like a post or account (unless they know them!)
For brands, the prospect of ads boasting ‘more Instagram followers instantly’ or ‘buy Instagram likes’ can be concerning. The likes are typically from either real accounts who are paid to participate or bots, and for brands, this is detrimental.
You see, brands pay influencers to plug their products, and if the likes aren’t genuine or won’t actually have an interest in the influencer or products, then brands will simply be wasting money.
Although this probably won’t bother the majority of huge brands, plenty more influencers in the Instagram sea and all that, for small businesses this could wipe out the marketing budget, with very little return.
Ultimately, fake and bought followers and likes can result in;
- A huge disparity between interactions and follower numbers
- Inappropriate and spam bot comments
- Regular purging of fake followers by Instagram
- Reduced credibility as an influencer and reduction in earning potential
If you’re wondering how to measure effectiveness without likes, here’s a couple of ideas…
- Increased numbers in followers on Instagram:
Your follower growth rate can be used to determine how successful your influencer marketing has been. You can easily calculate your follower growth rate by taking the number of followers you gained across the period of time, for example, a month. You then divide that by the number of followers you had at the beginning of the time period.
As an example, if you gained 100 followers and had 1500 at the start of the period of time, your follower growth rate for this period is 6% (0.06).
- Views of the page:
Once again, you should be able to easily calculate your growth in views using the analytics at your disposal within your business Instagram account. You can calculate your view growth in the same way as your follower growth.
- UTM links:
If your influencers have a unique discount code this can help to determine how many people really pay attention to what they say and how well they’re selling in your product.
But you can also give each influencer a UTM link (unique tracking module), this means that when you review your traffic at the end of the period, whether this a week, month or quarter, you can determine how much traffic has clicked through from that influencers bio, story or wherever they’ve shared the link.
Also published on Medium.