The most popular Instagram post in the world has 53.7 million likes – however the ability to view and track Likes might soon be a thing of the past.
Instagram is currently trialling ‘Invisible Likes’ in six markets including Australia, Canada, and Japan. Users will still be able to see how many likes their own photos receive, but will no longer be able to see counts for other users’ posts. This marks a significant step-change for a platform that has always focused on likes as part of its user experience.
The decision comes off the back of several studies linking social media to mental health issues among young people, and accusations that Instagram in particular affects users’ self-esteem.
Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, hopes that ‘Invisible Likes’ will cause “people to worry a little bit less about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram and spend a bit more time connecting with the people that they care about”.
Although this update might improve the average user’s experience on the app, it could also prove a challenge for influencers and for marketers to navigate.
Likes have been crucial to the rise of Instagram’s influencer culture, allowing them to prove their value in terms of engagement. Organically, influencers and brands will now have to be more creative to find ways to drive reach via the feed, and it is likely there will be an upsurge in the number of comments across the board.
This could have a positive effect, pushing the need for more original and inventive content to keep users engaged.
Fortunately, from a measurement point of view, influencers and brands who use “Creator” accounts will still have access to useful metrics, such as impressions, reach and views.
According to Amy Luca, chief executive of TheAmplify, an influencer agency: “Likes are part of a range of non-specific measurements that are not indicative of success in influencer campaigns”. The number of likes potential influencers appear to receive can actually be misleading for brands looking to sponsor someone to promote their products or services.
The ‘Invisible Likes’ feature creates the opportunity for marketers to leave behind unreliable vanity metrics such as likes and instead employ new strategies that focus on measuring ROI through relevancy of audience and more meaningful engagement metrics such as click-throughs.
Moving away from focusing on likes also encourages advertisers to track the objective of an influencer partnership or campaign more specifically.
If their goal is brand awareness then reach and views metrics are important; if the goal is to drive a direct response, such as website visits, then marketers should be utilising clicks and conversion via the Facebook Pixel.
These already available metrics mean that meaningful measurement of influencer campaigns for advertisers will not be impacted – so whether you can see it or not, we like it.