What happens to influencer marketing now that Instagram seems to be phasing out visible likes? To be frank, nothing.
At present, influencers (and you and I for that matter) tend to upload what we think is going to validate us the most – grab the most amount of likes. Without the impending social doom of only receiving a small handful of likes on our uploads, does that free us to create truly inspiring content? It might. Without likes, we marketers would have to rely heavier on the true test of engagement – comments. Likes are a dime a dozen and we wouldn’t miss them if they were gone, nor would it impact influencer marketing, for the most part.
If likes were to be totally abolished and even the most high tech platforms were unable to get access to that information, agencies who charge on a cost per engagement may have to evaluate different pricing models – an issue all on its own.
A nice side effect of influencers being freed to create more daring content is that things such as buying followers or buying likes become much less appealing and the market for influence will become less tainted. Only the best content will survive, and only influencers with true fans will remain relevant.
It’s always been a mystery to me why nearly every agency, especially those who charge based on cost per engagement, value likes, comments, and shares the same. They are not equal and we should not treat them as such. A post upload which receives 10,000 likes and 3 comments, has 10,003 total engagements. Compare that directly to a post with 5,000 likes and 650 comments and it would appear that the one with 10,003 engagements had a larger impact than the post upload with 5,650 engagements. Assuming they have the same follower size, I’m choosing the 5,650 engagements with 650 comments every single time.
The 650 people who took the time to comment are true fans – they are the followers who take the content seriously and listen to what an influencer has to say.
I do not claim to know what the exact ratio ought to be, but I do know that a like does not equal a comment. Similarly, a comment does not equal a share. Removing likes places a heavier importance on the engagements that matter.
Content that gets shared and comments moves people – it’s content that has inspired you to take action. A share says you enjoyed this content so much, that you’re going to introduce it into your own social sphere. A comment says that you enjoyed the content so much that you need to show the creator some love and appreciation by taking the time to thank them.
The removal of likes only enhances what is truly valuable, and allows us to cut through the noise of low-quality engagements.
So are non-visible likes the demise of influencer marketing? Absolutely not. In fact, it opens doors to a more creatively free environment and one where we marketers are encouraged to focus on the metrics that move the needle.