Instagram’s roll out of a trial removing the total like count in (Linktree’s homeland) Australia last week was met with mixed feelings. How will this impact influencers and brands? Here’s how you can use the change to your advantage.
…apparently we don’t need more likes after all.
As of last week, Instagram is trialling the removal of the total link count. Instagram users in Australia now see beneath posts in feed a like from just one user if you follow someone that’s liked it, followed by “and others”. If no one you follow has liked the post, it’ll just show blank.
If it’s your post, you’ll still be able to see the total likes, they just won’t be displayed to others. This has already trialled in Canada, so we’re expecting it will roll out globally before long.
Brands and influencers are the most affected by this, as the like count is an engagement metric they use attract partners or test product appeal.
Why is Instagram doing this?
Facebook, which owns Instagram, says the trial is about preventing the social anxiety of chasing likes.
“We want Instagram to be a place where people feel comfortable expressing themselves. 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,” says Facebook Australia and New Zealand director of policy, Mia Garlick.
Instagram is looking to see “whether this change can help people focus less on likes and more on telling their story” – which is a goal we can totally get behind. But note, there’s likely a bit of a play for more ad revenue here.
This is also a nudge towards conversation starting from Instagram. Being able to see who from your sphere of influence liked a post only, pushes you to engage with that single person – emphasising more interactions in-network.
Why influencers are worried
Like counts are one of the ways influencers can show their…influence. If a post can be proven to have a lot of engagement, brands are going to pay/gift more to be exposed to that influencer’s audience. Influencers are worried about the removal of like counts because it’s a bartering tool.
But it’s not the only bartering tool. There is also follower counts as well as the arguably more meaningful comment numbers and click-through rates. It’s just up to influencers to be able to talk about those stats now, rather than them being clearly visible from a brand’s scan. The key thing here is to…
Own your audiences
Influencers, now is the time to get familiar with your metrics. Learn how to talk about engagement rates, click-through and audience growth. If you’re using Linktree, you’ll be able to show Clicks & Views analytics to brands, as well as ensure you’re growing your audience across all platforms.
It’s also a great way to make sure brands can measure the CTR and conversion on campaigns – they’ll be able to send you their trackable link to put into your Linktree. Link attribution allows brands to measure uptake from specific posts by adding in UTM tags to your Linktree links. Work with your brands to make sure their digital team know what UTM tags they should look for under source/medium in their Google Analytics.
You might need to find new ways to be transparent with your numbers – a screenshot of the like count shared to the brand could be a simple hack to get across how fire your content is!
It might put more emphasis on growing audiences, as these numbers are still displayed. And growing audiences relies on having captivating, discoverable content, which is a good thing for the platform to prioritize.
It’s also a nice little reminder that things in digital marketing change, rapidly sometimes. And Instagram isn’t the only platform out there!
Influencers: up-skill on engagement rates, click-through and audience growth. You don't need Insta likes when you have marketing chat.
Where there’s opportunity
The best thing about this – is it removes the judgement on what you post. As creators, we know the Linktree community will take this and run with it. The golden opportunity here is to use this to test more experimental content.
Anything that you’ve wanted to add to your feed but think won’t get the same number of hits as your regular content – now is your time to shine! If you’ve been having great traction with your Stories, but not on your feed – why not try posting some of that temporal content in-feed?
This is a shift towards smarter social media and audience growth, both things that are key to us here at Linktree. And if you’re still despairing, don’t – it looks like Instagram Checkout (currently being tested with specific brand partners) will be on way for all users soon. This will be a great way to monetize your Instagram presence.
What’s your view? Worried how it’s going to impact your business or up for testing some wildcard content? Share your take with us – here’s our Linktree.