Where Is The Love? Why Instagram's Like Count Removal Isn't The End For Influencer Marketing

Unless you’ve been stranded on a desert island for the last week, you’ve probably heard about the new trial that Instagram rolled out that saw the removal of like counts in Australia. The Internet hasn’t been rocked this hard since it’s “black and blue or white and gold dress? phase - and probably hasn’t been as divided, either. Under the changes, Instagram is now hiding the total number of likes on posts in feeds, permalink pages and profiles from everyone but those who are logged into the account. Whether or not you agree that the initiative will resolve issues of vanity metrics, social pressure and mental health issues as Instagram promised is neither here nor there. The point is that this stride Instagram has taken forward has totally changed the game for influencer marketing, online engagement and brand building, and if permanent - will do so forever. 

Instagram’s burst into the world of digital marketing heralded an era that was unlike any other. Arguably it’s most powerful feature, the element of “likes” has simultaneously quantified brands and business’s popularity and provided ephemeral reward for the last 9 years.  Now that it’s been taken from us, brands, businesses and everyday people alike are unsure of what to do. The truth? If you’re using the platform properly, Instagram’s like count removal completely lacks the power to undermine your brand’s reputation. Although the change may seem scary, it proves a timely point that authenticity is centric to the success of your brand, and everything else that goes with it, much like free samples in a grocery store, is simply a delightful added bonus. 

Firstly - those who are logged into the account are still able to see the number of likes the account has received. The removal of publicly visible likes won’t affect valuable measurement tools, such as Insights or Ad Manager used by businesses and creators on the platform - which will continue to provide highly detailed metrics, down to how many people unfollowed an account on a specific day. There’s the argument the counters may be a flawed move, because it makes curation of content that is relevant more difficult. But, much like our battered hearts after the season finale of Game Of Thrones, the algorithm that sifts and sorts on behalf of the user still remains intact. 

The most important lesson we’ve learnt from the change is that the removal of publicly visible data doesn’t make in impact into the day to day operations of those who continue to create highly quality content and foster strong relationships with their communities. It’s crucial to remember that removing a like counter is also not synonymous with the removal of competition. Audiences who are invested and engaged in the accounts they follow have other ways to signal their support, through non numerical metrics like reposting and commenting. At its core, the removal of likes strips back made-up face of Instagram and reveals the power many are yet to harness; a highly valuable tool that has the ability to communicate the value of your brand to your desired audience (and if you’re doing it right, maybe even further). 

At the end of the day, a successful brand’s diversified and integrated strategy doesn’t solely rely on Instagram. The removal of like counts provides an opportunity to disrupt the fake engagement industry, and gives breathing room for the general public to use Instagram without pressure by relieving the most visibly competitive element of the platform. Finally, it gives the opportunity for you and your brand to really hone in to what your audience values - great quality content that isn’t contingent on likes. And if you think you need help on where to start with that - we’re here to help! Simply drop a line to shea@collaborativemarketing.com.au and we’ll get you on track to creating content magic.