When Instagram announced its decision to hide Likes last week, its users were alarmed.
Some foretold the end of the world as we know it. Others – ourselves included – recognized it for what it is: an adjustment in the right direction by Instagram to create a great place for users, and a tightening of the rigor used in analyzing influence.
We asked some of our users, some of our team, and the market generally for their views when the news broke. Views and reactions from people we know were initially cautious and mixed, but positive overall. They ranged from “A step in the right direction, but a Band-Aid solution…” to a focus on content quality – “Love it – may quality rule!” and a recognition that things will now be “harder for those who farm fake influence to game the platform…”
So: what actually happened, what does it mean, and what should you do next, now that the dust has settled?
Hiding Instagram Likes: what has Instagram done?
Instagram has added Australia to a global test program that means users are no longer able to view the number of ‘Likes’ on another person’s posts. Users will now also need to click a prompt to see the likes on their own posts. It’s worth noting that this is a test at this stage.
How is this different?
Previously you could see how many Likes other people’s posts got. Now you won’t be able to. Creators of content will be able to see how many Likes they get.
How does this affect influencers?
These changes will have the most impact on those who run “influencer” surfacing platforms, and those drawing down payments based on unchecked engagement performance.
But we see way too many ‘Like’ bots on Instagram – that make content appear to be much more successful than the reality. This move, therefore, helps clean this up – it has zero external measurable impact, and forces everyone to evaluate on the quality of the content, and their ability to genuinely see engagement (by first following them).
How will hiding Instagram Likes affect brands, how CMOs manage their programs, and budgets?
For brands building true influencer and ambassador relationships, things won’t change.
Measurement of the engagement generated by content via the Facebook API (which includes Instagram) remains unaffected.
Creators of content can still track their likes and views on Instagram, and we can still measure that in the Digivizer platform. And Digivizer users can still track the engagement and impact of influencers in their campaigns – because our tracking is based on gaining permission from the influencer, which has not changed.
What should you do next?
Reactions to this news will soon die down, as marketers re-set their objectives and priorities.
And whatever Instagram’s final decision about making these changes permanent (and in which markets), one thing will remain unchanged: marketers want to know how their investment in owned, earned and paid media is working. Savvy digital marketers will invest in the channels that deliver, and which they can measure.
All platforms provide more data when you pay to reach an audience, and this move brings Instagram into alignment. The continuing move (by all platforms) to ‘pay-to-play’ will see the balance between the channels and CMOs change, between what it costs to serve content, and the value that content, and the channels it’s served on, delivers.
And disruption is never going to go away.
As always, the key is measurement: what works, what doesn’t, in which channels, and why. And this remains possible under these changes.
We can help you understand the performance of your paid, owned and earned media across all your social and digital channels, in real-time. Check out our latest platform updates, see how Digivizer users manage their digital marketing budgets better, learn more about how to assess your digital marketing program performance across different channels, and sign up for your free trial.