Written by on . Pegasus.

How will ditching ‘likes’ on Instagram affect influencer marketing?

Beth Heard, Senior Account Executive and influencer specialist in our Consumer Health & Beauty team, discusses how hiding ‘likes’ could result in richer interactions on the social media platform.

Last month Instagram, the UK’s fasting-growing social media site, began hiding the number of likes on users’ posts in a trial of seven countries, including Italy, Australia and Japan.

The social platform has said of the decision: “We hope this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love,”[1]

It is a move many are hailing as a giant step towards users regaining creative freedom on the platform.

But with marketers now dedicating 37 per cent of their total budget to influencer marketing[2], and the social influencer industry as a whole expected to be valued at a staggering $10 billion by 2022 (up from $2 billion in 2017) – just how will this seemingly minor design tweak affect how brands plan, build and measure the success of influencer marketing campaigns?

Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri has said the aim of the trial is to minimise the stress of posting online, as currently users compete over the number of likes their posts receive.

“We want people to worry a little bit less about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram and spend a bit more time connecting with the people that they care about,” he said.

From a brand point of view, the move feels aligned with the current shift towards more genuine content and brand partnerships that focus on engagement and sentiment rather than vanity metrics, such as ‘reach’ and ‘likes’.

But it will require brands to work smarter (although not necessarily harder), as they’ll need to refine their influencer marketing process from strategy to execution.

Instagram’s new move enables conversations to be had without the pressure of popularity. For our clients, it opens up doors to conversations that influencers may have previously shied away from due to the burden of keeping up engagement rates. Removing ‘likes’ will also bring to the forefront those influencers who are genuinely passionate about their work and have a real ability to create good content; the type of influencers Pegasus strives to work with.

And as this content is created, brands are more likely than ever to be incentivised to put paid-media support in to the app, to share the content at a rate that they can measure.

In terms of measuring this success, it will be interesting to see which metrics brands shift their focus towards, and which of these measurements influencers will choose to reflect their fee bracket. It is likely to see more prominence put on direct sales generated, as well as actions taken and positive engagement across comments and interactions.

While of course the world of influencer marketing sits on more platforms than just Instagram, it’s here that marketers direct the majority of their social spend. To remove the ‘likes’ function can only support the quality and depth of content increasing, which is nothing but a positive for conversation-driving brands such as our own.

For more information about Pegasus’s influencer offering including strategy, insights and campaign execution, email simone.stevens@thisispegasus.co.uk



is a Senior Account Executive in our Consumer Health & Beauty team. She was one of the team working on this year's Poppy Appeal campaign for the Royal British Legion and GCHQ.