What does removing likes mean?

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

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