In June this year, Instagram head Adam Mosseri told CBS that the site might eventually eliminate the public display of likes on posts, saying that “we don’t want Instagram to be such a competition.”
“We want it to be a place where people spend more energy connecting with the people that they love and the things they care about,” he added.
Forbes Councils member and CEO of influencer marketing platform SocialPubli Ismael El Qudsi recently posted on Forbes about the concerns that marketers may have due to this trend that Instagram is testing on its site. Among those is the idea that influencers who earn their livelihood on the platform may have difficulty attracting brands to their doorsteps with no clear metrics.
“For brands that are increasingly relying on influencer marketing as a must-have marketing channel and using likes as one of their go-to metrics to measure performance, this seems like a setback,” El Qudsi added.
However, the doom and gloom attitude of both influencers and brands in reaction to the prospect of Instagram eliminating public display of likes may not be justified.
“Brands should look beyond likes to determine the success of a campaign. A change to the way Instagram displays interactions shouldn’t be seen as a catastrophe, but instead as an opportunity to develop new, more durable strategies for engagement and community building,” he wrote.
Ismael El Qudsi revealed that 60% of more than 3,000 influencer marketing campaigns SocialPubli assisted in continue to rely on likes as a metric that is equivalent to success on the platform.
Despite all of this, some influencers and brands are “taking a more pragmatic approach.” El Qudsi said that influencers must now take into account the “needs and interests” of their own followers, chucking away methods of getting more likes and focusing more on what spurs action among their audiences.
“The ban can have a positive effect on brands collaborating with Instagram influencers by encouraging them to create impactful content that hits several different KPIs [key performance indicators], instead of basing success on likes alone,” he added.
El Qudsi gave different examples of KPIs that brands and influencers can both rely on that can correlate with likes but provide more in-depth perspective on the performance of a particular profile. Among those are comments, shares, story views, follower growth, mentions, and conversions.
In the end, if Instagram decides to go through with a like ban, it will definitely rock the influencer marketing boat significantly. But it shouldn’t be seen as something negative; rather, it might help brands adapt to finding value in smaller influencers who may have a higher rate of engagement overall with their audiences.
As for influencers, this might actually be good news for those with under 50k followers, as their content will be more valued if a larger proportion of their audience is interacting with them. This silver lining, in the end, might be bigger than the current knee-jerk reaction to the possibility of the like ban.