Instagram is now starting to hide likes and it has consequences for both influencers and brands. The question now on everyone’s lips is “what are the consequences of this change and how should we respond to them?”. In this blog post, we explain why Instagram is hiding likes, highlight three concrete changes the update means for brands and influencers and suggest how you should respond to them as a marketer.

Why is Instagram hiding likes?

For what reason is Instagram hiding likes? Adam Mousseri, the CEO at Instagram, recently said that the main reason behind the update is that Instagram wants to reduce the pressure people feel from the platform as well as eliminate the competition momentum that ‘likes’ mean – with their younger target audience in mind. The idea is that users should focus on inspiring and connecting with each other rather than competing against each other. Hiding likes is a part of Instagram’s strategy to create a more healthy online environment, which in turn should affect how people perceive and use the platform.

But are likes completely gone? No, they are not. The update simply means that your followers can’t see your likes, but you can still see how many likes your own posts get.

In which countries is Instagram hiding likes?

Hiding likes is not a new phenomenon on Instagram; the update went live earlier this year in Canada, and was later tested in the U.S, Japan, Brazil and Australia. Now, Instagram has started to hide likes in Sweden as well and a few influencers have as recently as last week said that their followers can no longer see the amount of likes on the influencers posts.

How does the update affect brands and influencers?

1. Hiding likes could result in more qualitative content

When users no longer can see the amount of likes on other people’s posts, Instagram believes it could open up for a more creative thinking. When focus shifts from the number of likes, the idea is that users will focus more on the quality of the content, such as images and texts – rather than what works and not, based solely on the number of likes.

As an individual user, you can still see how many likes your own posts get, and combined with other metrics, see what your followers like and don’t like. As a result Instagram hopes that users will dare to post more inspirational images without worrying about the post being perceived as “bad content” – when it might indeed be the opposite.

2. Hidden likes – does it affect the algorithm on Instagram?

Keep calm! The algorithm is not affected. Instagram still collects all data, including likes, and as mentioned earlier the individual user will still be able to see the amount of likes on his or her own posts. This way, likes still affect posts in metrics such as engagement and how they are prioritized in the feed.

3. It’s more important than ever to have a platform with access to hidden metrics

As the hidden likes still constitute a metric that affects the post’s performance, it also affects collaborations between influencers and brands. For brands that work with influencer marketing, it becomes more difficult to collect or calculate important metrics that show how a profile performs in a collaboration. It’s also becoming more difficult for brands to find relevant influencers to work with – they can’t just look at the number of people liking the profile’s posts!

So, how should you as a marketer ensure that your influencer marketing strategy is based on accurate data? One approach, that will become critical, is to use a platform with access to hidden metrics e.g. likes and audience data. This type of platform can ensure that your brand works with the right influencers by recommending profiles with followers that match your brands’ target audience.

In conclusion, it’s worth mentioning that hidden likes on Instagram are not a new phenomenon; hidden metrics, such as reach, interactions and “swipe-ups” have been on Instagram Stories for a long time! Today, Instagram Stories is a successful channel for collaborations – and it continues to grow.

With this in mind, we think it’s fair to say that this change isn’t likely to affect the platform and your influencer marketing efforts negatively – given that you ensure the influencer marketing platform you’re working with has access to hidden data which is not visible in the user interface.

To get further guidance on influencer marketing, download our ultimate guide on the subject!

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