2020 will see a full rollout of removing visible likes from Instagram. Does this mean the end of influencer marketing?

You've probably seen the doomsday press - Instagram is removing visible likes from posts, could this be the end of The Age of the Influencer? We believe it is only the beginning.

One of the things we pride ourselves in as an agency is our human-first, experience-led approach to different influencer strategies, as opposed to the sweeping generalised statements that a lot of tools and agencies out there make.

For example, take two seemingly-similar advocates with the same 800K Instagram following. They both create beautiful, brand-safe content. They both love your brand and/or products. they both have organically grown their audience over time, as opposed to through more questionable methods. However one of them averages 14,000 likes per post, and the other averages 2,000.

There are a number of factors to consider here - one of them could be posting at more optimum times than the other, one could engage more with their community and other peoples' content, encouraging the algorithm to favour their content in the discovery feed. It could also be largely due to their audience - some demographics are proven to actively engage in so-called "vanity metrics" (e.g. likes and comments) whilst others are less likely to engage with content even if they love it.

By looking at the vanity metrics alone there are a number of things which we can't determine about these advocates. Who is their audience? Is their audience likely to convert to a clickthrough or sale? Is their audience likely to be interested in our owned content? has this advocate driven success for other brands?

Without knowing the above, it would be easy to understand how most brands would jump at the chance to work with person A, and avoid person B - however from experience we have learned that in order to make a strategic decision, you need to understand the full picture.

Tools can definitely help with gaining audience insight and data, but nothing will beat the value of getting to know the influencer and their agent, allowing you to see the same back-end data that the advocate themselves sees which they will be more than happy to share with you, and have conversations and see results from their previous work with brands.

At HappyCat. we have been getting to know hundreds of advocates and agents from all sorts of industries over the past 10 years giving us direct, personal access to the information needed to make an informed decision. Vanity metrics can be an indicator of campaign success but it isn't the only one, and without it, brands will be forced to build even stronger relationships with their chosen advocates to drive business results.

- Geo, Founder and Director at HappyCat

Updated: Mar 5

How much added-value to my brand can a selfie really bring?

How much value to my brand can a selfie really drive? I saw my product featured on Instagram Stories, is that enough to convert customers to buy from me?

In some cases - yes, that really will be all it takes to at least drive some new traffic to your site. However alone, social media coverage really isn't the sole way that an advocate will drive value to your brand.


They aren't called "content creators" for nothing! There are thousands of extremely talented creators on social media ready to produce high-value stills and videos of your product. A well-planned contract with your chosen advocate will allow you to repurpose the content they have created for you in your own campaigns. Whilst usage rights will raise the fee of the contract, the end result will still be much more affordable, and much more impactful than a creative production agency would produce. It's been proven time and time again that the media which performs best on social media is content which doesn't look like a brand produced it. So why don't you get the experts to create it for you?

True advocacy

As we've said before - don't fall for the promise of a quick win. The reason we at HappyCat. use the word advocate is because when done right, that is the ideal relationship between the brand and the creator. These "influencers" are the key opinion leaders in their peer group. Their friends, family and followers look to them for recommendations on brands and products. They are respected by journalists and other creators. If they truly believe in you and your offering, they'll spread your message far and wide on your behalf, without you ever having to ask them to. That is true advocacy.

Constructive review

Similarly to their advocating power, their legacy and experience will provide unmatchable value to your product development. Content creators know their audience (your potential customers) inside out. They know what makes them tick, and what makes them click. They have had access to thousands of brands and hundreds of thousands of products, giving them elevated knowledge of quality and functionality. Whether you are a startup, a small business or an industry giant; with the right relationship, feedback from your advocates will help you to improve your brand, product and marketing efforts.

So why is everyone so obsessed with the social objectives? It's simply because they are the easiest to measure. It's impossible to track the way an advocate talks about your brand over brunch with her friends. It's more difficult to quantify user experience feedback or a bank of beautiful assets than it is to measure reach or engagement. The most successful campaigns will be multidimensional, delivering online KPIs supported by building brand love, trust and proximity.

- Geo, Founder and Director at HappyCat.

Updated: Mar 2

In short - building a meaningful, impactful relationship with key advocates of your brand will (and should) take time.

Position yourself in the place of the advocate; not only do they get approached by thousands of brands to collaborate in some way or another, but they also have an existing list of favourite brands and products, some of which they've been using for years. If you jump in with a brand new offering, especially if they haven't heard of you yet, a quality content creator will want to get to know you and experience your product before they decide if they want to advocate your brand. The goal here is for your product to fit seamlessly into their life.

At this point, it will then take time to discuss and decide how the partnership will work, and the most valuable advocates will invest in producing high-quality content to show your product in the best light possible to their dedicated and engaged audience.

WARNING! There are a lot of agencies out there who will promise to deliver guaranteed fast, cheap (sometimes free) content through a mass list of "influencers". It's not difficult to find people on social media willing to guarantee a post in exchange for free stuff, but it is very unlikely that they will have any level of connection to your brand. They are more likely to regularly post advertorial content for multiple low-quality brands, and most importantly most of them will be willing to post without having even tried your product.

On paper it will look like these agencies have delivered for you, as the numbers of posts start stacking up, but how many of these same-pose-posts are actually driving sustainable value to your brand? Spoiler: none.

In order to grow your brand in a meaningful way watch out for "quick wins" as they'll deliver very little and cost a lot more in the long run. Instead, invest in the time it takes to grow powerful relationships with respected content creators. They'll fall in love with your product, and through their collaboration with you, their army of fans will too.

- Geo, Founder and Director at HappyCat.

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