It’s here, it’s finally here -- a like-less Instagram world.
What began as an experiment in Canada, Australia and Japan has now been rolled out across the globe. Instagram’s vision of a world without visible like-counts has been fully realized. Despite the hysteria around removing the like-count, the industry response has been relatively subdued. Marketers with years of experience had let go of the like-count as the be all and end all of engagement some time ago now.
Although the apocalypse of influencer marketing might not be around the corner, the removal of the like-count will have consequences for the industry. The severing of such a fundamental part of the platform will cause ripples that are hard to predict. I spoke to 7 different marketing experts to hear what they thought will be the unexpected consequences of the removal of the like-count.
1. Lisa from BottomLine - Digital marketing agency
Removing the like-count affects influencers in a few ways. Firstly, they can't compare their posts with other influencers. While we can see how many likes per post "we" get, we aren't able to see how many "they" get. It also means influencers can't buy likes any more, which is a very good thing. Comments hold far more weight now, which means the person paying you for content/promotion can run through your comments and see if they are quality or bots etc. It puts the ball back in the court of the person paying for value.
2. Timothy from Easy Social - Digital marketing agency
I think there are basically two sides, like anything with social media, the business side and the consumer side. But sticking with the business impacts: In general it is going to help smaller businesses hide their lack of engagement on content – though obviously algorithms will still be using engagement to determine whether users should see certain content. Obviously this takes away some of the power that larger more established accounts/companies have been able to use to demonstrate their dominance their given topics/areas.
3. Kelly Ann from Vult Lab - Digital marketing agency
I expect that comments, positioning on the “explore” page and blatant displays of popularity will begin. Be on the lookout for people sharing screenshots of their stats. People will be angry. Don’t be surprised if people start doing more live-streaming (to show their community engagement), and begin taking more polls (and then posting as many answers as possible in their Insta Stories). Since many brands and people are spending money on campaigns to boost likes I expect new paid boost features will surface from Instagram. They aren’t going to want to lose out on money. They will 100% hook us on something else, like “boost your post for more comments” or “boost your livestream!”
4. Dennis from Popcorn - PR agency
I think users in the US will see a decrease in likes and engagement (as seen in some other countries where this has rolled out), and for brands and agencies, it makes it more difficult to vet influencers using Likes data. So eventually, there will be a progression towards looking at other metrics like comments and saves, and perhaps more thought being put into the vetting process to ensure that the brand fit goes beyond just the influencers' vanity metrics. Or perhaps there is more of a shift towards influencers who are channel agnostic or who maintain influence across multiple social channels. For now though, the workaround for seeing likes is to view influencer's accounts through Instagram's website instead of the app.
5. Rachel from Luxy Hair - Hair extensions
I believe by removing likes, Instagram's engagement calculation will shift and brands will look towards comments, saves & shares to determine influencer engagement. Additionally, with the use of business insights on each image, brands will have the opportunity to review impressions, reach, etc. to determine the success of an influencer's post. Overall, I believe there are other ways to gauge the popularity of an influencer's page, and naturally brands will adjust.
6. Laura from August United - Digital marketing agency
I believe an unexpected outcome of likes removed from Instagram in-feed posts will be a heightened emphasis on Instagram stories for influencers and brands alike. In the past year we have seen viewership and click-rate of Instagram stories increase, while impressions of in-feed posts and likes decrease. Removal of likes from Instagram in-feed posts will lead to a heightened focus on Instagram stories, with many brands investing more heavily in this method of influencer marketing.
7. Shana from HER - Dating app for womxn and queer people
Potentially, the follower numbers may go back to being the priority, which would take away from Instagrams initial goal of making it less superficial. But on a positive, it could provide an opportunity for people who are doing this as a brand to be able to connect with new businesses that would've focused on their engagement numbers and can now focus on the quality of content that is being provided. Content quality is going to hit a new peak with this change, in my opinion.