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Hiding Instagram likes – the future of influencer marketing

There has been a big furor in the marketing industry the past couple of weeks over Instagram hiding likes for certain accounts. Instagram’s CEO Adam Mosseri said the experiment will help improve the mental health of users, while influencers are worried that it will be harder for them to work with brands without clear numbers.

But marketers have already started listing down other metrics that can be used apart from likes. More sophisticated metrics that can eliminate the possibility of fake influencers and followers will be considered key to the brand campaign. For eg, metrics like clicks, reach, impressions, story swipe-ups will become the focus of a campaign. While the numbers may not be as high as likes, relative numbers will be considered for each influencer.

Why this move could be great for marketers?

While likes are removed from the public view, individual users can still see who liked their posts. So it just takes a little more manual labor for the marketers to get the data, which is a small price to pay.

Some marketers are not too worried about this move. The move will be towards better metrics than likes and these might push the brands towards micro-influencers than celebrities. Micro-influencers tend to have a better relationship with their audience who actually look for what their favorite Instagrammer is posting. So, influencer marketing will still focus on limited budget with great results.

Here are some ways in which influencer marketing could possibly change after this move –

Refined campaign performance metrics

While engagement like likes and comments can denote the popularity of the Instagrammer and how much they can influence the audience initially, it is not a business result in the campaign. Some Instagrammers can like content with no intent of buying the product. Peer influence of liking posts can lead followers to like a post.

Brand marketers are already using likes as a secondary metric. Aggregate campaigns, coupon codes, video view time, link clicks are considered as better metrics to follow. While much of the marketer’s favorite mode of a campaign would be to get posts our of influencers, the focus may solely shift to Instagram Stories and the swipe up count which seems like a heavier and a more valid metric than likes.


The focus could also move completely on comments, which helps the marketer to understand audience sentiment for the brand. While negative comments are everywhere, likes are currently pacifying brands into thinking that their brand is well-liked. Negative reaction minus likes would push the brands into taking a second look into making a better product for their target consumers.

Shift towards micro-influencers

As more refined metrics emerge, marketers will shift their focus on working with influencers who really connect with their audience and have a relationship. Likes will gradually become secondary.

Brands have to understand that micro-influencers are well known for creating quality content for their limited followers. One-size-fits-all campaigns with celebrities will be on the decline. What you can possibly see is a brand collaborating with twenty micro-influencers instead of one big celebrity with a million followers.

Without the public pressure of brands and followers watching the like numbers, influencers will now be able to create quality content which will satisfy what Instagram is aiming for. Instead of engineering the content to get the most likes, these content creators have the freedom to get creative and diverse. This will, in the long term, be a boon to marketers who want to target a set of niche followers.


You can also equate this move to some schools not conducting exams until a certain grade. Students learn better and gain more knowledge when they do not have the pressure of performing in exams and content creators deliver quality and diverse content when brands are not always on the lookout for the number of likes.

While some influencers may feel the initial pinch of this move by Instagram, some new platforms like TikTok or even a journey to older platforms like Facebook could take off again.

Influencer marketing agencies

Influencer marketing agencies will need to get more comfortable with the idea of working around performance metrics. Some agencies already do. Quant by Greenroom is an end-to-end influencer analytics platform that helps marketers with their entire campaign lifecycle – from influencers discovery with accurate data, through to campaign planning, tracking, and reporting. Quant not only shows the number of followers but consolidates relevant performance metrics of Instagram influencers for brands.

Like Quant, tools need to weed out fake followers and influencers and deduce the quality of engagement for an influencer’s campaign. Manual reporting by influencers can only take the accuracy level up to a certain point.


Despite the move, Instagram continues to be the top social media platform.  This move can shake a marketer’s routine but the future of influencer marketing still seems bright. The industry is constantly changing and this will be one move out of many that brands will adapt to. As a brand, is this move worrying you? Are you planning to change your metrics or shifting to another social media platform? Do let us know below in the comments or visit our websiteFacebookTwitter or Instagram pages to reach out to us.

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