By: Yohan P Chawla
The much expected update of the popular the social media platform Instagram has now hit social media influencers by simply hiding the likes on a photo or video post from the world. This update came to India after it was being tested across the markets of Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand.
While to an individual account holder, one can see the old metrics of views, likes, reach and other details as before the world outside cannot see the likes on a post. The platform has said that they want people to be less interested in how many likes a post gets, and focus more on connecting with people. I am not sure whether social media influencers would agree to this as metrics such as likes and reach of a post determined their business with brands.
Medianews4u reached out to a few digital agencies for their view on the same.
Sahil Vaidya, Co-Founder, The Minimalist said, “The new feature rollout from Instagram is not a very big surprise, given the platform’s need to evolve as a platform where businesses want to spend their marketing money.”
On how this would boost the content quality of influencers, Vaidya said, “While influencers might be hit hard by this new update, there will definitely be the class of authentic, resilient ones who will continue to do business. The key here is whether they have managed to build an authentic niche that actually follows their regular content and benefits from it.”
The benefit it will have on agencies Vaidya said, “Agencies, on the other hand, can take advantage of this opportunity. As brands start diverting their spends from influencers towards the platform itself for greater measurability, agencies will now play a critical role in ensuring that the right message gets crafted and reaches the bulls-eye target audience in the most cost-effective way. It is an opportunity that we must grab. Moreover, a brand can see the likes and reach on its content, and therefore the update will not cause any adverse impact on daily operations.”
Commenting on the change by Instagram, Manish Solanki, COO and Co-founder, TheSmallBigIdea said, “Instagram’s latest trial action of hiding the ‘Likes’ display for a picture has created a bustle in the digital ecosystem. If you look at the bigger picture, I see it as boiling down to differentiating between an engaging audience and a consuming audience. All those who ‘like’ a picture need not be consuming users; the focus is more on reaching out to a wider user base.”
On the impact on the advertiser, Solanki said, “The brands will have to either evaluate their influencers based on different criteria, or rely on analytical development that will factor in ‘likes’ as a measurement unit; since the ‘likes’ are not removed and will still be visible to the account holder.”
On the pressure on influencers Solanki said, “Well influencers will have to rethink their strategy… not just rely on the likes but work on enhancing their storytelling abilities to scale reach. I see this move having an impact on their asking rate, which one has to admit was increasing indiscriminately. But it goes without saying that the influencers form a big percentage of a brand campaign. A lot of research and analysis goes into establishing the right influencer for a product.”
“How important is the ‘like’ tool for the influencers is subjective, I think. I don’t see a fall in the popularity of an influencer; only that its evidence will remain hidden from the other ‘instagrammers’.”
“The hiding of the ‘likes’ is still in a beta phase, a trial run in seven countries yet. Whether it will prove a stumbling block for brands, influencers and agencies, remains to be seen.”
Ajit Narayan, CMO and Program Head, SOCXO said, “For brands this is a great leveller. I think, this will now put the pressure back on the influencers to justify why they should be paid in the first place. And they really have to get their influencing chops working.”
On the benefit to users, Narayan said, “This is a great move that reduces social pressure on users and boosts the authenticity quotient for potentially genuine engagement. You will like or comment on a post only if YOU really liked it and not because hundreds (or thousands) of others had liked it. And as a business/personal brand, the influencer has to really earn his or her bread by getting their real skill into the game.”
“While this is being tested, what remains unclear is whether this will impact the algorithm. As the algorithm will still continue to push the most-liked posts around (while the like counts will not be visible) I could hypothesise this move as a way to push more meaningful engagement which would ultimately result in brand visibility and behaviour inducement towards purchases.”