November 12, 2019

Will The ‘Like Ban’ Kill Instagram Influencer Marketing?

Brands and Instagram influencers are trying to figure out what’s next in the wake of the social sharing platform’s “like ban” test. For many influencers who generate their livelihood from a portion of the 95 million photos and videos uploaded to the site daily, the ban feels like a calamity of epic proportions. For brands that are increasingly relying on influencer marketing as a must-have marketing channel and using likes as one of their go-to metrics to measure performance, this seems like a setback.

But here’s the thing: vetting and working with influencers should not be based on a likes-driven popularity contest. Brands should look beyond likes to determine the success of a campaign. A change to the way Instagram displays interactions shouldn’t be seen as a catastrophe, but instead as an opportunity to develop new, more durable strategies for engagement and community building.

What is the Instagram ‘Like Ban’?

Earlier this year, Instagram boss Adam Mosseri announced the platform would test removing the public display of likes. The company’s reasoning, according to Mosseri, is to support mental health and to encourage connection rather than scorekeeping.

The ban has been tested in a handful of countries, not including the U.S. The ban allows like counts to be seen on the back end by the creator but doesn’t display specific like counts that are accessible by those perusing the site.

How will the ban impact brands and influencers?

In our experience, where 60% of the 3,000+ influencer marketing campaigns we’ve facilitated to date have been on Instagram, we’ve seen that marketers’ initial reaction to the news has been one of concern. Many of them still count on the number of likes, along with comments and shares, as the most reliable measure of success.

While many brands and influencers are understandably either fearful or frustrated regarding the change, others are taking a more pragmatic approach.

The changes to the platform are intended to help people “spend more of their energy connecting with the people that they love and the things that they care about.” It stands to reason that in order for influencers to continue thriving in this market, they must be attuned to the needs and interests of their target audiences. Their goal won’t be getting quick likes anymore; instead, they’ll focus on creating stronger, more authentic and interactive content that drives action.

Influencers who want to continue to have an engaging Instagram presence will need to determine which metrics they want to highlight to brands seeking partnership. They can also benefit by homing in more specifically on the audience they want (looking at specific demographic or geographic information or at more intangible characteristics such as voice and responsiveness) than creating content that speaks to them and inspires action.

I predict video will continue to gain precedence on the platform, so I believe that creators who can develop engaging, actionable stories will likely rise above the rest.

What’s the best way to avoid negative impact from the Instagram Like Ban?

In virtually every line of work, user experience has become a key area of focus. The same goes for influencers working on Instagram. If they’re connecting in the right way, likes are just a small piece of the overall equation. Their main concern should be the experience and engagement they develop through interactions with followers.

In this way, the ban can have a positive effect on brands collaborating with Instagram influencers by encouraging them to create impactful content that hits several different KPIs, instead of basing success on likes alone.

Contect us: Instagram marketing agency 2019

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