How Instagram hiding likes impacts influencer collaborations

Instagram – and social media in general – is often criticized for its effect on our mental health. In reaction to this scrutiny, the platform is trying to find ways to lift some of the pressure around their much-debated ‘reward system’: the likes.

More recently, they’ve been experimenting with hiding likes altogether. But what does that mean for the myriad of brands and influencers doing business via Instagram? Specifically: how does it impact their collaborations?

First of all, let’s clarify that – at present – the function is still being tested. More and more people are getting access to try it out every day. Also: it is entirely optional, so you can easily opt-in or out.

How does it work?

While scrolling through your feed, the potential update entails that the like counts of those who activated the function will no longer be visible. Instead, you’ll see ‘liked by ⌈name⌉ and others.’ If you click on ‘and others,’ you can still see who liked the post, but unless you count them all one by one, you can’t know the number. The content creator behind the post, however, still can.

This way, the infamous ‘like’ loses its power, and the pressure around like counts is almost completely eliminated.

Total shift

Immediately after the initial experiments kicked off, Instagram’s influencer community started protesting. They brought up the fact that like counts are an important factor in showcasing their work to brands. And rightfully so.

Likes have long been one of the most basic ways for influencers to demonstrate their popularity and their ability to influence. With the removal of these counts, it will be harder for influencers to prove their worth to followers and brands alike.

And although the creators themselves will still be able to access the information around their like counts, Instagram’s whole purpose is for likes to mean less, so influencers will need to seek another reward system.

The influencer marketing industry as a whole will have to start looking for other metrics to mean more. This will definitely take a shift in perspective, but it’s one we were heading towards anyway: more authenticity.

Engagement vs. vanity metrics

Brands will have to start focusing on other metrics like comments, click-throughs, swipe-ups, etc., which are more meaningful anyway. These ‘engagement metrics’ actually show the effectiveness of the content and the enthusiasm of the followers. They are the accurate way to measure success.

This movement has been going on for a while – likes are referred to as a ‘vanity metric.’ 

Our standards for content have simply become higher. It needs to be authentic, honest, and engaging. We expect way more from the people we choose to follow. 

We’ve had enough picture-perfect feeds and actively seek out micro influencers and relatable ‘real’ people. In the end, we’re all just looking for community.

In conclusion

By hiding likes, creators will have to gather loyalty instead of likes and shift from follower building to community building. This change creates another push towards more meaningful content and interaction.

Ultimately, it motivates brands and influencers towards more authentic relationships with their audience.

Here are some pro tips for brands moving forward:

  • Ditch vanity metrics and track more meaningful metrics like mentions, comments, saves and clicks
  • Focus on meaningful community building other than metrics and numbers. Knowing you have a loyal consumer base amongst the creator’s followers is more valuable than the likes and comments
  • Extra pro tip: if you can, diversify your content, because centralizing several content marketing efforts on Instagram will get them to reward you

Join us 23/6 for our webinar on the topic of how young people in Belgium experience influencer marketing.

Register for the webinar here!