As Instagram Tests Hiding ‘Likes’, Influencers Should Think Of New Ways To Make Money

Kevin Mwanza
Written by Kevin Mwanza
Influencers Corey Gamble, from left, Kris Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Kendall Jenner, Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott attend The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute benefit gala May 6, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Social media influencers and other individuals working for brands will have to find other ways to make money — like actual sales — over and above vanity metrics such as “likes” or followers on Instagram.

Instagram started testing hiding its “likes” feature in at least seven countries, including Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand. The design tweak will show who has liked someone’s photos on the Facebook-owned platform but not the total count received.

This “like” ban would help create “a less pressurized environment” on the app, Instagram said in April according to CNBC.

The change would mean influencers’ content would have to qualify to attract brands to features such as Instagram stories which are live on the platform for a short period.

Marketers would still, however, be able to look at the follower counts, which experts say would not mean much in terms of engagement metrics.

Some anonymous influencers called into a live Australian radio show to complain that they are working more hours because “likes are going down!”, according to Cosmopolitan. Another influencer went viral for weeping after her “like” count went down.

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Influencers in Canada, where the ban was tested first, said it was a positive vote for high-quality content that they spend a lot of time building. They also added that it would dry up fraudulent “likes” on Instagram, which are distorting the levels of engagement.

“(Clients) have almost completely abandoned the idea of engagement rates being the most important piece … it’s become a nice-to-have,” said Ryan Detert, CEO of influencer marketing company Influential, on CNBC.

David Shadpour, Social Native founder and CEO, said the test to hide “likes” is in line with the Facebook and Instagram strategies of pushing users to Stories.

“The goal of Facebook and Instagram is to push users to Stories, since they believe the future is in short-form videos, not static images or news feed,” Shadpour said.