Instagram rolls out international ‘hide likes’ trial – but what does this mean for marketers?

18th July 2019 – 4 minutes read  Influencer Marketing
Leona McCaul – Influencer Account Manager

In a bid to combat mental health pressures associated with the app, last
night Instagram rolled out a second round of their ‘hide likes’ feature trial.

Instagram users in Canada were tested in May of this year, with Australia and Ireland the most recent countries to trial the feature. Several other countries, including Japan, will also have likes and video views withheld from public view in the coming days.

This comes after the photo sharing app was voted the worst social media app for mental health among 14-23 year-olds back in 2017 as part of the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health’s study Status of Mind.

According to Mia Garlick,
Facebook’s Director of Policy for Australia and New Zealand, the purpose of
this trial feature is that “We want Instagram
to be a place where people feel comfortable expressing themselves, we hope this
test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can
focus on sharing the things you love.”

But what does this mean for marketers and influencer
marketers specifically? If you ask me, it shouldn’t affect much. Best practice within
the industry disregards the use of vanity metrics to determine true influence
and relevance.

Regardless of the number of likes a content creator or
influencer receives, true influence can only be measured via insights, as well
as the analysis of comments, in order to see how trusted and invested the
influencer’s audience is. Influencer marketers will now need to request
first-party insights from influencers for not only audience demographics but
also post engagement. However, this should not hinder or slow down the
selection process as this should be something brands are already actively doing
in order to assess how well an influencer could potentially perform. 

As we all know, brands want to create and maintain
strategic alignments with influencers and content creators, only working with
those who can drive action and meet business KPIs, as opposed to the number of
vanity metrics they can deliver. As Instagram are focusing a lot more on in-app
shopping, this change could actually help move influencer marketing further
down the sales funnel as brand awareness becomes less of an obvious focal
point.

Aside from the potential to improve mental health for
some users, although this is not a certainty, another bonus is the focus will
now be on producing top quality content – which will be music to many creators’
ears. I also believe the everyday app user will actually post more, as the
potential to worry about a post not receiving enough likes will be removed from
the public eye, therefore spending more time on the app.

One concern that may cross influencer marketers’ minds is the ability to spot fraud but, on the upside, perhaps this move will actually make it less tempting to purchase bots/fake engagement? Only time will tell if this is the case, as yet another change is implemented in the ever-changing world of influencers.

What are your thoughts on this trial, too little too late? Or is this exactly what we need?

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