Likes… once considered the life blood of Instagram, are well on their way out. Numerous studies have shown that the most negative side effects of Instagram come from likes and the addictive cycle of validation they create, particularly in the younger generation. To combat this, Facebook decided in 2019 to trial the removal of Instagram likes in a number of territories with a vision to have them completely removed in 2020.
The initial backlash from users was wide ranging, with arguments coming from both sides. Influencers and agencies trembled at the news, arguing they would no longer be able to measure the success of influencer led campaigns. While the vibe from the average Insta frequenter has been in favour from the start.
For better or for worse this change is happening, and for now the long term effects are unknown. However, at Brandnation we’re always learning from the past to look to the future, anticipating industry changes and pre-empting the challenges these changes can bring. With this in mind we’ve made our prediction from an agency perspective on the impact removing likes will have for the industry.
Firstly, we want to make one thing clear… likes aren’t gone, they are just ‘invisible’ on feed. People with account access will still see their own number of likes. What is changing is that they can no longer see their competitor’s.
So, who will this impact the most?
For agencies the impact will be extensive. Once the change in Likes comes into effect, the only platform businesses will be able to look at the Instagram Likes of potential users is through Facebook’s Brand Collaboration tool. The removal of likes will inevitably make it harder for agencies and businesses to analyse their influencers engagement and in turn push people toward new collaboration platform. Consequently, we predict there will be a huge move from agencies and brands alike to Facebook’s Brand Collaboration tool.
What the removal of Instagram likes shows us, is a very clear move by Facebook away from Likes as a key metric. It’s an obvious sign that agencies need to alter the way they report for their clients and attach more significance to other active forms of engagement, like comments, saves, story shares and video views. Once the change comes into full effect we predict a huge shake up on the way agencies report metrics back to their clients with a greater emphasis on highlighting active engagements.
Content is going to change…
The removal of likes should also have a more significant impact on the kinds of content influencers create and consequently the way brands and agencies interact with them. Content will have to become complex with a focus on prompting conversation and meaningful engagement over simply looking nice. Instagram has outlined they want creators to fill their platform with authentic content and their removal of likes is an indication that they no longer consider likes representative of authenticity. Instagram doesn’t want their platform filled with influencers who are just in it for vanity and a quick cash grab. Instead they want the individuals who are conversation starters, who stand for something and most importantly who express that on their platform. This should impact agencies significantly and alter the way in which agencies negotiate with influencers on the kinds of content they want created.
Social media is the most dynamic communications platform on the planet. The space is in a constant state of flux and that isn’t going to change. The removal of Likes is set to shake things up a little bit and we are looking forward to guiding our clients through this change. For now the impact remains relatively unknown, but we are confident our social and influencer teams will be ready when that change comes into place.