Instagram’s 'Hide Likes' feature to impact influencer marketing biz

Influencers will have to deactivate the setting to stay in business.

MUMBAI: Undoubtedly, Instagram is one of the most popular platforms when it comes to influencer-based marketing. As per the latest Buzzoka report, 77 per cent of the brands indulging in influencer-based marketing activities see Instagram as their primary choice to invest in.

But the paradigm may see a slight shift with the Facebook-owned social media grand testing its new feature of hiding the ‘likes’ count from the posts. The feature, which is currently under testing in Canada, allows only the individual posting content to have access to the number and profiles of people who have liked their posts. The move has been made to ensure that platform users focus more on photos and videos than on the amount of likes they are getting on it.

As per Logicserve Digital co-founder and CEO Prasad Shejale, the feature might have a slightly downward impact on the influencer-marketing business as brands will be more reliant on influencers to know the analytics.

He says, “It’s a very tricky move by Instagram. While this change will curb the subconscious popularity contest amongst influencers who stress over the number of likes for posts, this can have a slight downward impact on influencer marketing activities for brands. Brands will need to rely on influencers to share insights to understand the impact of activities. This can lead to delays and make it a tedious process to conduct influencer activities. However, I am sure the company and marketers will eventually come up with an alternative solution if the impact is huge."  

DViO Digital founder and CEO Sowmya Iyer also reflected similar views as she said, “From a digital business stand point, this feature could greatly hamper the entire sector of influencer marketing that is an important part of brand strategy. While yes, it will impact the way influencer marketing works right now, it will also reduce the visibility of brands as they would need to strenuously identify the appropriate influencers and in turn, the influencers would need to go and pitch themselves out to brands in relation their reach and engagement. This could lead to a major dip in influencer marketing which is definitely an integral strategy touch point.”

Iyer, however, noted that the feature is not exactly a cause for concern right now as the roll-out is still in its testing period. She is positive that Instagram is well aware of its popularity within the influencer market and will work around it.

Instagram also understands this concern and as per a quote attributed to a spokesperson from tech giant in a TechCrunch report, it is thinking through ways for influencers to communicate value to their brand partners.

While most of the industry-insiders are looking at the new move with apprehensive glasses, BuzzOne founder and CEO Sanjay Vasudeva is of the thought that it won’t affect the business at all and will remain a ‘self-goal’ for Instagram.

Vasudeva notes, “It won’t affect influencer’s' business as they are paid and one of the yardsticks for their post’s performance is engagement – which is likes, shares, and comments. And if they are to be paid they would have to deactivate that “Hide Like” feature.”

He adds, “On a primal level, the success of social media is where people after posting anything are eager to know how many people liked, shared, and commented on it. They also want their peers and followers to know the engagement. So, to my mind, it would be a “Self Goal” by Instagram.”

The feature was announced at Facebook’s annual conference, recently, with an aim to improve the overall online environment targeting depressing user behaviour like hateful comments, and unhealthy competition. Some of the other features announced were ‘nudge’ that will warn users if they’re about to comment something hurtful, and ‘away mode’ that will encourage users to take a break from Instagram at intense times in their lives.

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