How Instagram’s Removal of ‘Likes’ Will Affect Influencer Marketing

What would you say is your main motivation behind posting to Instagram? Are you seeking validation for a new haircut, promoting a product you love, or simply sharing meaningful moments with close friends? Well, it turns out Instagram is worried that its platform has transformed into an unhealthy space where users measure their worth based on the number of ‘likes’ their posts receive.

Although likes and metrics have become synonymous with all social media platforms, the relationship has been shown to trigger mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. In response to this trend, Instagram has launched a pilot project in Canada that hides the public like-counter on posts. The project comes at an opportune time in Canada, as the government has been considering imposing regulations on Facebook, Google, and other tech giants to improve the wellbeing of society. By removing the like-counter, Instagram aims to make the platform a safer and more positive space for its users.

While the cause is undeniably noble, the pilot project has left many wondering how the change will affect a booming influencer marketing industry that relies heavily on metrics.

What Removing ‘Likes’ Means for Influencer Marketing  

Once news of the pilot project dropped, brands and influencers alike began wondering how the change would affect their lucrative partnerships. Understandably, the initial reaction of the influencer community in Canada was fraught with uncertainty. After all, an influencer’s followers and likes (or interactions) are how they demonstrate their worth to brands who they want to work with. However, many influencers have surprisingly voiced their support of the project and the potential benefits it could bring to the influencer marketing sector. We’ll explain.

In the era of public like-counters, brands selected their influencer partnerships based on digital metrics such as followership and likes. The more likes an influencer receives the more money a brand is likely to pay them. Interestingly, posts that do well initially, generally have a snowball effect. This means when followers see that a post has received a large number of likes, they are more likely to ‘like’ it as well.  Unfortunately, this dynamic leads to an influx of repetitive content as influencers post what they know will get the most likes to further propel their careers. By eliminating the public like-counter, influencers may feel less pressure to post tried-and-true content and instead focus on creating authentic content that speaks to their followers. So, although eliminating the public like-counter may reduce an influencer or brand’s total likes, it may boost other metrics, such as engagement. How? Well, when it comes to social media, authenticity almost always equates to more engagement. Users can tell when influencers are being themselves and posting genuine content just as easily as they can tell when a post is sponsored.  So, without the public pressure of the like-counter, influencers will be able to focus on creating authentic content that speaks to their following, rather than carefully curated look-alike posts.

How Gatsby Can Help

Unfortunately, by eliminating the public like-counter brands will have a more difficult time identifying influencers they want to work with. Now, instead of relying on niche influencers with a specific number of likes, brands will have to take the time to look at their content. While this could actually boost the quality of influencer marketing content, searching for the perfect influencer could become a time-consuming challenge that brands are unequipped to handle. That’s where we come in.  At Gatsby, we identify micro-influencers from your existing clientele, so you don’t have to go searching into the abyss for the right fit. Once these micro-influencers are identified, it’s easy for them to share their newly private metrics to verify engagement rates.

Currently, there is no word as to whether or not Instagram will make the pilot project permanent in Canada or whether they intend to expand it globally. Only time will tell how these changes will affect the Canadian influencer industry. That being said, we have a feeling it will only push influencers to be more authentically themselves – which in our mind is a win for everyone.

What is Gatsby?

Direct-to-consumer brands need to acquire customers. Traditional advertising channels are increasingly saturated and expensive. Gatsby is a customer collaboration platform. It helps brands engage their influential customers in order to drive new business & retention.

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