Facebook-owned Instagram has been rolling its new policy of hiding likes since July 2019. First, the company started hiding likes in Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, and Japan. However, on November 14, Instagram expanded its policy to the rest of the world. The company emphasized that the new “likeless” system was operating in a test mode.
The controversial move caused a lot of heated discussions within the influencer marketing industry. While the company said that the new practice would bring more transparency and fight fraudulent practices applied by some influencers, many industry participants are concerned that cutting likes on Instagram will adversely affect their profits.
Starting today, we’re expanding our test of private like counts globally. If you’re in the test, you’ll no longer see the total number of likes and views on photos and videos posted to Feed unless they’re your own. pic.twitter.com/DztSH0xiq2
— Instagram (@instagram) November 14, 2019
In India, marketing experts acknowledge that fake influencer profiles and corrupt practices are an acute problem that translates into millions of dollars losses for brands and companies. They hope that the change in the Instagram policy will force a much-needed change in the industry.
“In India, anyone can become an influencer now. This change will likely correct that,” The Economic Times writes citing a representative from the marketing agency.
These concerns are not without reason. According to Statista, the US has the most extensive Instagram user base in the world, with 116 million users. However, nearly 50% of them (47 million) are fake accounts. In Brazil, there are 27 million fake accounts out of 72 million. India ranked the third with 16 million fakes out of 73 million.
Removal of likes may be a welcome development as it will eventually force both brands and influencers to build a more transparent relationship based on the quality of content and real engagement. However, it is a challenge for both parties of the influencer marketing business.
Once likes are completely off, brands and experts will have to seek for new ways of measuring performance and understand the real engagement of influencers with their audience.
“The challenge with this is, Instagram natively does not share influencer content or performance data to any ad network, or any other monetization-related services,” commented Praanesh Bhuvaneswar, cofounder of Qoruz, an influencer marketing platform.
The influencer marketing is moving to the next level, where companies and agencies tend to move away from simple followers and likes count and factor in a variety of metrics in their partnership deals with Instagram influencers.