// 20 August 2019

Like It Or Not!

How Instagram’s Decision To Remove Like’s In Australia Will Effect Influencers and Brands

In an effort to make Instagram a less pressurised environment, the platform has now begun to experiment with hiding like counts on posts, in addition to making follower counts less prominent on profiles in Australia. It’s a logical step following Instagram’s recent increased efforts to prioritise mental health and encourage more mindful usage of the app.

In the social media economy, likes have become a critical form of currency — the pursuit of which has been said to potentially have an adverse effect on mental health and breed addictive tendencies among users.

While the change will likely impact the way social media ‘influencers’ communicate with brand partners, the bold move is being lauded as a positive step by many users, due in part to the app’s potentially negative impact on young people. Who doesn’t want to feel less bad when they open their phone and scroll through a grid of curated perfection with the numbers right there to quantify it? Still, the announcement leaves one to wonder: How exactly might this impact influencers and content creators, for whom like and follower counts are the bread and butter of their work?

Like count is an important metric by which influencers can determine follower engagement and broker deals with brands — the value of which drove an egg to international stardom in January when it garnered 35 million likes, usurping Kylie Jenner’s throne post for the most-liked Instagram photo. However, likes are not the only metric that brands value when it comes to partnering with influencers and creators.

Many experts in the social media space including our own Traffic social team believe that it is primarily content, not likes, that is driving the train. In addition, there are several other metrics that can be used to measure the validity and effectiveness of a brand’s campaign. Story engagement, follower growth, and attention metrics like video completion, audio on or off, and valid and viewable impressions, all form the greater package. Furthermore, click-through rates that measure new leads and website traffic are also metrics which are monitored closely.

Refinery29 reported last year that Influencers and creators can earn big paychecks on Instagram — thousands of dollars for throwing an #ad in a caption. Micro influencers with fewer followers and lower engagement rates can earn up to $444,000 a year, while those with higher numbers can earn closer to one million. It’s not unusual for brands to pay as much as $15,000 for a post.

Although Instagram recognises the importance of like count for creators, the platform is evaluating how potentially hiding like counts could impact influencer-brand relationships. It’s an impact that could make it more difficult to determine how their posts perform.

An Instagram spokesperson confirmed recently that although they “understand that [like count] is important for many creators, and while this test is in exploratory stages, we’re thinking through ways for creators to communicate value to their partners. We hope that by making the number of likes private, people will be able to focus more on the photos and videos posted in Feed, and that this will ultimately drive deeper engagement”.

Still, above all the scepticism from Influencers and a small portion of the greater Instagram user community at large, the majority of the social media community feel that hiding like counts will encourage people to share things they truly care about again instead of things they think other people will like. Ultimately, most people don’t feel that this decision will have much bearing on the way influencers and creators do business with brands, as the space is ever-evolving. While brands may initially question how removing likes will impact their campaign goals, the viability of marketing on Instagram has already been proven.

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