What would it mean for influencer marketing if Instagram hides likes?
We’ve used phrases like ‘biggest change to social media’ a few times before. But, as one of the most prominent platforms in the influencer marketing sector announces a potentially huge upheaval, we need to use it again.
Word has been spreading like wildfire that Instagram, the go-to network for influencer marketing, is considering hiding the number of likes from photos. If it happens, it would definitely be one of the biggest changes in social media we can think of, although it’s not quite as cut and dry as you might think.
So what’s the real story?
According to ‘code hunter’ Jane Wong, Instagram is considering a feature that stops people seeing how many other people have liked a photo.
The idea is (apparently) based on Instagram wanting us to focus on what users share, not how many likes they get.
Easing the pressure on mental health
Instagram says it is always exploring ideas to ‘ease the pressure’ on users. And, recently, the British Information Commissioner’s Office recommended social platforms turn off features such as likes and ‘streaks’ to discourage addiction and improve the impact of social media on mental health.
Crucially, though, the number of likes would still be visible to the person who posted the image. Needless to say, that raises questions about how effective this idea could be at safeguarding mental health.
Risky business (when business is influencer marketing)
If this idea does make it into and out of Beta testing it could have major ramifications. After all, metrics such as likes are key signposts for brands when they are looking for influencers.
We’ve blogged before about the perils of vanity metrics in social media campaign analysis, including influencer marketing. But when companies are initially researching and shortlisting potential influencer marketing partners to approach being able to see like counts at a glance is important. Having to reach out to request these numbers would require much more effort, and dishonest ‘influencers’ could easily doctor figures.
Specialist software exists which gives brands in-depth insights and metrics from social media activity. Click here to see some of our favourites, many of which could protect against fake numbers
But will Instagram allow these third-party applications to provide follower counts? If so, how would Instagram police the way such apps to help ‘ease the pressure’?
Treading a fine line
Instagram’s global influencer marketing value will hit $2.3billion in 2020. Meanwhile, the pressure to be more responsible and act on social media’s threat to mental health is growing by the day. Striking a happy medium is therefore one of the biggest challenges faced by the network since its inception.