Something different is happening on Instagram and it’s big. The free photo sharing app, used by millions, has decided to take its ‘hidden likes’ experiment global, meaning users will no longer be able to see the amount of likes that some users’ uploaded ‘grid posts’ have received. At the moment, this is only an active feature on some accounts. Whilst impacted Instagrammers will still be able to see the number of likes on their own photos, their post likes will not be shown to the general public or even their own followers. There’s no denying that this is a fundamental change to the way that Instagram works. Whilst there’s perhaps some truth in the claims that this roll out will have a less negative effect on the mental health of users as the previous setup, with Instagram undoubtedly now being a powerful marketing tool, there are also concerns about how this could impact brands and businesses that use the photo-sharing app to effectively connect with their target audiences. Here’s how your brand could be impacted.
It has been suggested that masking likes will affect brand’s visibility on Instagram in general because it’s the amount of likes a post gets that makes it more discoverable by new users and potentially new customers. If the ‘success’ of an Instagram post is no longer being measured by likes, will a post still be more ‘discoverable’ based on the amount of engagement it gets? If all posts are being treated as equal, is it likely that your post will only now be seen by your followers rather than a wider range of Instagram users who have come across it due to the likes it’s received by people they follow. However, we’re yet to see how Instagram’s algorithm will change, or whether it will take hidden likes into account in the same way as it does engagement that is publicly viewable.
This is understandably a huge concern for brands who work heavily with influencers. Is influencer marketing going to work in the same way if you can’t rely on likes to measure reach and engagement? This could be an issue when using the app to find influencers to work with as well as seeing how much interest a post you’ve paid an influencer to create, generates. However, some argue that this change is a great opportunity to re-work who and what you currently view as ‘influential’ when picking influencers for your campaigns. It’s becoming clear that Instagram’s decision to mask likes is to rid the platform of its competitive nature and numbers game and to focus on genuine, creative expression and personal connections. Brands will now have to decide who they most want to work with based more on the creativeness of their content, their suitability to the campaign and their passion for the industry – rather than something as superficial as the number of likes they receive per post. Influencers are now going to have to work harder at creating and building an engaged community and brands will now have to work smarter in order to discover this. Will influencers now have to prove that they are, in fact, influential?
One of the great things about using Instagram as a brand is Instagram’s ability to match paid ads with the right Instagram users, based on their activity on the app. Instagram looks at user’s engagement, including their likes, to find who to show your ads to. If likes were no longer there at all, ad targeting may become a little less accurate. However, although the likes will no longer be visible to viewers of posts, all engagement metrics will still be measured behind the scenes, meaning that ads will hopefully still be targeted accurately and effectively.
Whether you view the removal of Instagram likes as having a positive or negative impact on your brand, there’s no question it’s going to be a challenge. If you would like more information about how you can make Instagram work for your brand (likes or no likes!) then don’t hesitate to contact our team!