Skip links

Instagram Giveth and Instagram Taketh Away

How hiding likes will change the face of the Influencer Marketing Industry

There have been talks about Instagram hiding likes since Facebook’s F8 event earlier in the summer and they have now intensified with multiple reports over the weekend that the change could happen within the next couple weeks. The focus from the beginning has been on improving mental health for the average Instagram user, which is completely valid as it’s been proven that receiving likes can have an almost drug like euphoric effect for many users. With mental health taking the lead, almost everyone has ignored the impact that removing likes will have on the $15 billion dollar+ influencer marketing industry and it’s a monumental one.

A Double Standard

For the average user, likes on a picture or video act like validation, essentially reconfirming popularity on every post. Which is why many users go to great lengths to make sure every post is exactly the way they want it. From the location, to their facial expression, the time of day its posted and most importantly which hashtags they include in order to maximize organic reach. Not only does all that hold true for an influencer but post likes (specifically avg. post likes) go even further as perspective brands use them to evaluate and select talent for paid partnerships. So if mental health is in question for the average user, you can imagine what influencers go through on a daily basis.

If likes are hidden how will influencers differentiate themselves? This topic has also been heavily debated mainly with A List celebrities voicing their displeasure, which makes sense as they have the most to lose. So what’s next? Enter influencer marketing platforms.

A look at how Instagram posts will look without like counts.
Image Courtesy of TechCrunch

No More Instagram Links

There have been dozens of platforms pop up in the last five plus years aimed at making influencer/creator discovery and running paid partnerships easier. Though many have capitalized (in terms of venture capital) on the industry growth, we have yet to see one platform gain any significant market share. So Instagram’s ‘hiding of likes’ comes at a very interesting time, as influencers will be forced to use a 3rd party in order to differentiate themselves. Gone are the days of simply sharing an Instagram URL to a brand manager in order to get a paid gig. How will brands evaluate talent now? Content alone is hard to quantify. Will they count the likes manually?! As you can see platforms will play a huge role.

It’s Going to be a Wild Ride

The ‘hiding of likes’ will no doubt take the Instagram community back to its roots and put the focus on quality content. This is a golden opportunity for all those involved in the industry but it will separate the wheat from the chaff. The creators whose content was propped up on memes, ill-legitimate likes and comments will fade away, leaving the ones with true influence.

This will be a wild ride as the industry will need time to adjust but in the end, the creators that adapt and learn to showcase their work outside of just their Instagram URL will win.

Header Image Courtesy of CNN