By now you have heard the news, Instagram has started the process of making Like Counts private! This experiment started back in April in my home of Canada which was the very first nation to experience a Like free world.
Thus far I would say the results are mostly positive. I have yet to hear any casual Instagram user complaining about missing the Like counts, but I also don’t hear of anyone breathing a sigh of relief from social-media-induced-anxiety. Instead, just like when they swapped out “Aunt Vivs” on Fresh Prince of Bel Air OR when they replaced Reggie, on Riverdale, people noticed but they all just kinda moved on with their lives.
If you haven’t seen what Instagram looks like without likes you can check out my Blog from April of 2019, when the Canadian test first started.
While the Like count is gone, the Comments count is still visible for that post, so as an Instagram user you almost don’t notice anything is different.
But you know who does miss Likes? Marketers working on influencer marketing campaigns.
In this article we will quickly (a) discuss the rationale behind Instagram’s decision and (b) talk about a free tool that will continue to count Likes and calculate engagement rates so marketers can make the best influencer decisions...even when the Likes are gone.
This TechCrunch blog really captures everything you need to know about Instagram’s Like removal.
“Instagram wants its app to be a place where people feel comfortable expressing themselves, and can focus on photos and videos they share rather than how many Likes they get, a spokesperson tells TechCrunch. Users can still see who Liked their own posts and a total count by tapping on the Likers list. Viewers of a post will only see a few names of mutual friends who Liked it. They can tap through to view the Likers list but would have to manually count them.”
I personally believe that the rationale behind this decision is well intended and makes sense.
I can see how, power Instagram users, young people or self-conscious people, could all be impacted negatively by Like Counts and what they communicate. The Atlantic wrote a great piece on the issue of Bullying on Instagram. They note that: “According to a recent Pew survey, 59 percent of teens have been bullied online, and according to a 2017 survey conducted by Ditch the Label, a nonprofit anti-bullying group, more than one in five 12-to-20-year-olds experience bullying specifically on Instagram”.
The unhealthy “Like” scenarios are pretty obvious:
One would be someone posting something important to them (e.g. a birthday or performance) only to find out that no one cares...and everyone can see that no one cares by the lack of Likes. What was initially a private embarrassment now becomes a public one.
Secondly, and more sinisterly, someone creates a disparaging post about someone else which gets a number of Likes. Who wouldn’t be hurt by that!
For many people their lives are so connected to social media it would be completely naive to think that public engagement reporting on platforms like Instagram wouldn't be taken personally. And thus here we are, Instagram feels it is creating a healthier environment by removing the burden of publicly viewable Likes - and I personally agree with them.
Influencer Marketers must now navigate a ‘Likes’ Free World
TechCrunch recently discussed the potential impact that the removal of Likes could have on the red hot influencer marketing industry.
“As Like counts won’t be public, influencer marketing agencies must rely on self-reported screenshots from creators that could be Photoshopped to score undue rewards.
Without even privately visible counts, agencies won’t be able to verify a post got enough engagement to warrant payment. Instagram may need to offer some sort of private URL, partner dashboard or API creators can share with agencies that reveals Like counts.”
Given the prevalence of fake followers and the huge delta between how many followers someone has versus their true reach on Instagram, engagement rates have become critical to marketers when selecting potential brand collaborators (i.e. influencers). And even more critical when evaluating the performance of campaign content.
While not perfect, Likes and Comments indicate to a marketer that the Influencer’s audience is actively consuming their content. Marketers then hope that this active consumption will carry over to their sponsored content. With the removal of Likes marketers are missing out on a critical audience metric they need when selecting influencers and measuring performance.
But don’t worry…..there is light after the Likes free blackout.
The truth is marketers need to be able to see the engagement data for influencers they are working with. When Instagram removes likes from the app DON'T WORRY you can still get all the information you need with the Socialpeeks Instagram Analyzer!
This tool is a FREE Chrome Extension that lives in your tool bar and instantly analyzes what ever Instagram account you are looking at, pulling in critical Instagram information that isn’t available to the naked eye.
When you use the Instagram Analyzer you instantly see the account’s:
- Average Likes
- Average Comments
- Industry benchmarked Engagement Rate
And most importantly this tool works beyond the standard Instagram App so you can still see the Likes and engagement rates even when Likes are made private in the Instagram app.
The Socialpeeks Instagram Analyzer doesn’t just view and calculate engagement data, it also lets marketers review an Instagram account’s top post (by engagement). You can even see an influencer's previous brand collaborations and Sponsored Post!
Click the Chrome Extension Plus button to go further and further back into an influencer's post history to learn even more.
This free chrome extension is the must-have tool for marketers working in influencer marketing on Instagram because it gives them the information you need to make the best decisions for the influencer campaign.
In an effort to make Instagram a healthier place for everyone, Facebook is handicapping marketers who rely on engagement metrics such as Likes to run their campaigns. Thankfully the Socialpeeks Instagram Analyzer allows marketers to continue to get the Instagram information they need to run their influencer marketing campaigns.