Recently, Instagram announced at the Facebook F8 Developers Conference that they were planning to remove likes from the platform. They have already started testing this feature in Canada and six other countries.
This algorithm change by Instagram will affect the way brands and influencers have been doing influencer marketing. This is especially true because Instagram is the most popular platform for influencer marketing. Before we get into how it could change influencer marketing, let's try to understand why Instagram has taken this step.
Why Did Instagram Make the Change?
The adverse side effects that social media platforms bring with them have brought in a lot of criticism worldwide. On Instagram, people have started posting content to get more likes rather than its original purpose - showcasing genuinely creative content. This leads to less real connections and lower self-esteem.
Image via TVNZ
To put the focus back on content and push for real connections, Instagram decided to hide likes from their platform.
How Will it Affect Influencer Marketing?
1. The Focus on Content May Increase
Prior to the algorithm change, a lot of influencers focused on getting more likes. They did this so that they could land more contracts from brands, and, thereby, make more money. However, with the latest change, quality content will become the main focus of brands looking to partner with influencers.
As the likes will be hidden, brands will be forced to look at the quality of the content, and the conversations influencers have with their followers. Similarly, the type of engagement that the influencer's audience has with the content will become more important too.
Posts on which people may just comment using a simple emoji, may not be well-received by brands. And, posts on which the influencers and their audiences have real conversations, will become more important.
The influencers will have to put more effort into creating more engaged communities on Instagram.
2. Engagement of Posts May Change
Earlier, influencers could use the power of fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) to get more likes on their posts. People would tap on the like button when they saw that a large number of people had previously liked the post. Those posts which instantly became popular got more likes due to this reason.
However, now that only the user who posts the content will be able to see the likes, other users will become more choosy with what they double tap. This means that posts by influencers may not get as many likes as before. Instead, the likes may be more evenly distributed among the posts.
Likes will cease to be an important part of showing engagement on posts. Instead, influencers will have to focus more on creating genuinely good content and engaging with their audiences.
This may help stop the practice of buying fake likes and will reduce influencer fraud. Additionally, the usage of hashtags such as #like4like, #likeforlike, etc. will decrease or stop. This will pave the way for better content on the platform.
3. Influencer Selection May Become Tougher
Before the algorithm change, brands could rely on the number of likes as a parameter for judging the influencers. However, now that the likes will only be visible to the influencers, brands will find it difficult to judge their effectiveness.
They will be forced to look at other metrics, such as engagement to determine if they want to partner with an influencer.
4. The Importance of Influencer Marketing Platforms May Rise
Till now, brands used various methods to find genuine influencers. However, now that brands won't have likes as a metric to help them choose influencers, they will be more likely to turn to influencer marketing platforms to discover influencers.
This is because these platforms have verified influencer profiles from a variety of niches. All that the brands need to do to find genuine influencers through these platforms is to search for them.
Platforms such as Influence.co, BuzzStream, and BuzzSumo offer advanced search options as well. You can search for influencers based on their location, category, and many other factors.
Image via Influence.co
Additionally, on influencer platforms, you get access to detailed analytics about the influencers as well. This includes their engagement rate, audience demographics, and more. These analytics will help brands make better decisions.
5. Better Prospects for Agencies
Because of the latest Instagram changes, the future also looks better for agencies that are involved in influencer marketing. Agencies usually have historical data about influencers.
When brands won't be able to check various parameters themselves to find an influencer's efficiency, such as the engagement, they will turn to agencies.
The importance of this data will increase because engagement is critical for the success of any influencer marketing campaign.
6. Influencer Marketing Through Stories May Become Popular
Instagram Stories have over 500 million daily active viewers and the latest algorithm change might give a boost to them. This is because likes were never a part of Instagram Stories. Additionally, they feature short videos and images, which are usually highly engaging.
Many brands have already used Instagram Stories for paid promotions and influencer marketing campaigns. However, as the importance of likes will decrease, more brands may do influencer marketing through Stories.
This is because the only key parameters that will remain after the removal of likes will be engagement, time spent on the platform, and the number of views.
Popular brands like Jeep have already partnered with influencers such as Discovery to reach their audience through Instagram Stories.
Image via Instagram
Wrapping It Up
The latest algorithm change by Instagram will surely change the influencer marketing landscape. However, it won't spell the death of influencer marketing and will indeed improve the quality of influencers and the content that they create.
The focus on improved engagement between influencers and their audiences will increase. Additionally, the quality of the content that influencers create will continue to be a significant factor for brands to reach out to them for partnerships.
Platforms and agencies that are solely dedicated to influencer marketing may get a massive boost due to the valuable data that they possess. Instagram Stories may become more important too.
Do you think influencer marketing will die a slow death due to Instagram's algorithm change? Let me know in the comments.