Instagram is hiding the number of “likes” on some posts in the UK as part of a global trial to “remove pressure” on its users.
After trialling feeds without public likes in seven countries, Instagram have confirmed that these tests will be carried out globally, including in the UK, and have begun this process.
Director of policy for Facebook Australia and New Zealand, Mia Garlick, said that the change was made with the intention of freeing Instagram users from judgment and helping people to focus “less on likes and more on telling their story”. Removing likes will encourage users to post more freely, without fearing the ‘like’ competition.
There is no doubt that the removal of likes will benefit the user’s mental health. But what does this mean for the influencer marketing industry: is this the end of the creator economy?
At first, the concern seemed justified as the average user’s experience of the Instagram feed has changed. HypeAuditor’s study found that influencers with a number of followers between 5,000 and 20,000 lost up to 15% of their likes when they were hidden. However, many are now appreciating the benefits it has. They also believe that it will change the kind of content that you see on Instagram.
The removal of public likes might even benefit the creator’s agenda and enable genuine creators and content to thrive. Additionally, the Instagram update will encourage creators and users to be more creative and experimental with their posts. It is unlikely that the change will affect genuine content creators, who have always been posting authentic content.
In essence, how creators post and reach out to brands is not changing. Their content will still be monitored with back end data that will allow brands and agencies to look ‘behind the scenes’ at how a creator is performing. As likes will still be visible to the creator or user themselves, influencer marketing platforms connected to the Instagram API will still have access to all the data.
Agencies will also have to move away from focusing on the cheapest vanity metrics, such as likes and comments, and instead look into data that indicates actual follower interest, such as saves, shares and clicks – forms of engagement that are harder to be faked or manipulated.
On the other hand, it will be harder for those who have not built communities, but have instead indulged in fake likes and engagement, to continue to prosper. Those who are more likely to be affected by the changes will be creators who are relying on vanity metrics and neglecting other consumer behaviours.
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