Talking to 20 marketing agencies and brands taught me a thing or two about scouring Instagram for influencers. From miserable interns going down the ‘rabbit hole’ for days to automated hacks - everyone’s got a tactic.

There are serious slabs of time and energy being invested into searching for the ‘right’ influencers for a campaign, well beyond the shallow engagement metric. So much for the media hysteria around its removal!

Here’s what 20 businesses really think about the removal of the like-count on Instagram.

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Steven from Athletic Greens 🇺🇸 Whole food supplement brand

"We're not worried about it. We're going to continue to focus on targeting the right influencers and working with them to produce content that resonates with their audience. We provide them with unique URLs that give us the ability to track how influential they are within their demographic. We'd rather see a new customer that's enthusiastic about trying Athletic Greens than a few more likes next to our photo. "

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Tom from The Influence Agency 🇨🇦 Digital marketing agency

"When scrolling through your feed, the like-count often creates confirmation bias. You judge the content based on how many likes the post has received - rather than your genuine opinion of the content. Removing the 'Likes' places much greater emphasis on the quality of content. From our perspective, removing 'Likes' gives us a bit of an advantage because we still have access to the first party data of the Influencers we work with. So from our perspective the execution of campaigns doesn't change."

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Carolina from eGlow 🇲🇽 Influencer marketplace

"At eGlow we have extensive analytics on our database so removing the like-count isn't a big deal. Influencers can give brands access to their audience insights and that information is more important. Now you won't have fake likes being an issue anymore."

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Cole from GroMo Agency 🇺🇸 Digital marketing agency

"From Instagram's standpoint - it makes the platform better. People will focus more on content instead of getting a number of likes. A lot of brands and agencies don’t even know how to approach influencers because they rely on follower counts and engagement rates. If some didn’t know how to do it before they definitely won't now. The best agencies for influencer marketing will definitely rise to the top."

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Bart from Strideline 🇺🇸 Athletic sock brand

"Removal of the like-count is a good thing, it will allow creators to pump out more content. We'll continue to focus on quantity and quality of comments when choosing influencer partnerships. We're looking at the quality of engagement by seeing how they interact with their fans. We're looking to see if influencers respond to comments and if they start a conversation."

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Aaron from Vamp 🇦🇺 Influencer marketing platform

"Measuring engagement hasn't changed for us. Vamp has worked hard to get an Instagram Marketing Partnership and have access to superior insights. Since like-counts are only hidden from public view we're able to report the same data back to our clients. Ultimately likes don't sell products anyway. We're far more concerned with measuring cost-per-click, sales and ROI. Anyone too concerned with likes being hidden seems to have quite a limited view of influencer marketing. "

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Rachel from Hashtag Communications 🇨🇦 Influencer agency

"I understand the mental health aspect, but people can still see their own likes and will compare that with themselves. Seeing likes on other people’s posts gives you a barometer for what people want and where trends are going and sparks creativity. Now there are a lot more people that aren't posting as much because they aren't getting as much engagement."

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William from DSMP 🇺🇸 Digital Marketing agency

"Engagement percentage doesn't currently matter anyway, everyone is paying for engagement nowadays. If I see engagement that's really high I assume the influencers are probably paying for it. It gets rid of all the fake likes and confusion. It might even bring down the inflated price of some influencers based on fake interaction. Engagement, likes, followers are not tied to anything that is consistent or true - they are all easy to buy."

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Marc from Spreadvertise 🇩🇪 PR agency

"We've been through a lot of Instagram changes and are used to adapting to new requirements. This isn't as a big of a change for us as you might think. We always ask for screenshots of the audience insights from an Influencer before we collaborate and we have our own tracking tool to check the authenticity of certain Influencers. We can still evaluate engagement and other KPIs like impressions to communicate that to our clients."

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Kris from Zig Marketing 🇺🇸 Digital marketing agency

"Since like-counts will only be hidden from public view I don't think it'll affect Zig when it comes to running influencer campaigns. The like-count still exists and the industry can still access it via API. My feeling is that they are trying to remove negativity from the platform and put more focus on creativity, which is good. From a user standpoint, it should help people to actually like what they like instead of liking what other people like."

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Christian from NextCoreMedia 🇺🇸 Digital marketing agency

"I’m on the fence. I see why Instagram is doing it, people obsess over the like-count in very unhealthy ways, and I understand why Instagram is testing this theory across several countries to start. It will be making content equal to the general public. However, I haven’t really thought about it much because it is yet to be rolled out in the U.S. and the influencers I've spoken to aren’t worried about it affecting their reach."

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Victoria from The Exposure Co. 🇦🇺 Influencer marketing agency

"When finding new influencers we will have to take a bit more time and effort in requesting their insights dashboard, but we already have a strong relationship with a number of influencers in our network and database. We have a proven track record with these influencers and also know their insights dashboard well. We don't have to use a simple metric like engagement to determine quality for these influencers."

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Roger from Cooperatize 🇺🇸 Influencer marketing agency

"It doesn't affect us at all. Any public facing metric is easily gamed or cheated. People just go to Fiverr and ask someone from overseas to create a bunch of fake accounts to like your post. We don't utilize public facing metrics. Instead we create our own internal metrics and methodology for success to ensure brands get what they need - they really don't need likes!"

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Benjamin from Dulcedo 🇨🇦 Talent management agency

"We measure engagements per piece of content. Instagram gives analytics and our metrics are likes, comments, shares and saves. We then calculate the engagement rate based off the actual reach of the post. In terms of taking away the like-count, we are not seeing much of a negative from this and feedback from our talent and clients is the same."

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Jen from Veloce 🇫🇷 Influencer marketing directory

"It will make it more difficult to filter the influencers who are relevant for a campaign. When you see an influencer with 100k followers and only 100 likes per post, you can see that something is not right and remove them from the equation because their engagement rate is far from what it should be. But when the like count disappears, you won’t be able to do that."

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Ace from Blogapalooza 🇵🇭 Influencer agency

"The like-count as engagement is a really shallow metric. A lot of brands and influencers do base success on it, but at Blogapalooza we don't believe in basing the success of a campaign on it. The removal will mean influencers won't be so agitated about getting likes on their post in a short amount of time."

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Lukas from Mediaxplain* 🇳🇱 Digital marketing agency

"I think it’s great that Instagram will focus less on likes and the pressure that comes with it for its users. And from a business perspective I don’t think it will effect our business that much. We will still be able to get insights on engagements, this data just won’t be public anymore. Besides that I do hope that taking away the like count publicly will boost the creativity and uniqueness of the platform’s fans."

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Tom from Social Chain 🇩🇪 Social media marketing agency

"The like count isn't going, it is being hidden from public visibility. We can still measure it. That being said, measuring a campaign based solely on the like-count isn't optimal. We always take into consideration different factors depending on the campaign goal, including direct ROI, brand engagement, sentiment and conversation."

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Madison from SelfMade 🇺🇸 Digital marketing agency

"I think Instagram taking away the like-count is a positive for the platform overall. There are so many articles about the negative effects of Instagram, especially with young users, so I'm excited to see users be able to like brands they actually really care about without it being a popularity contest of who has the most likes."

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James from Insense.Pro 🇺🇸 Influencer marketing agency

"There is a murky connection between likes and sales conversions anyway. Instagram stories are the most vibrant part of Instagram, with a lot of brand interest, and they've never had likes. Like-counts are a vanity measurement anyway. People will like a promotional post without the intention of buying anything. At Insense we've long deemphasized likes and follower count as being a measure of success."