There’s been a lot of talk and a lot of speculation about how removing the likes count from Instagram will affect influencers and brands alike. While this update has previously been rolled out in other countries as part of a test, Instagram announced recently that it would begin hiding likes counts in the U.S. as early as last week.

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“We will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people’s well-being and health,” said Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri. And in a time when the affects of social media on users’ mental health is slowly coming to light, most everyday users are seeing it as a positive change.

Along with hiding likes, Instagram also recently rolled out its newest anti-bullying features, which allows users to choose to “restrict” other users who are engaging in bullying behavior. While the social platform is taking steps to mitigate bullying behavior, it’s the update of removing likes that has many people talking.

So, what kind of effect will hiding likes have?

Limited data

Since hiding likes took effect in April in select countries, there has been small, but informative data on its affects on influencers. According to an audit done by influencer marketing platform HypeAuditor, overall likes for influencers in the U.K., Australia, Brazil, Ireland, and Italy have decreased.

The data also shows that the larger the following an influencer has in these countries, the more drastic the decrease in likes is. Interestingly enough, the only country where this data was different was Japan. In Japan, nano-influencers—with followings between 1-5K—saw an increase in Likes, while influencers with followers between 5-100K saw a decrease in likes.

Impact on influencers

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For a long time now, the number of likes and followers has been key in influencers getting collaborations with brands and making money off content creation. Without an influencer research tool, brands are left gauging how many followers an influencer has with the average amount of likes and engagement each post receives.

While some influencers are worried about how this could negatively affect their business and income, many are looking forward to the change and have voiced that it will alleviate pressure put on them when comparing their post likes to another account’s post.

However, influencers can and should be prepared for this change by having media kits available with key statistics, such as blog visits per month (if applicable), recent examples of post reach and impressions, and proven results and the ability to run ads successfully.

Impact on brands

Since there isn’t any data on if the visibility of likes on a photo correlates with whether or not someone is more apt to also double tap, there likely isn’t going to be a huge change for brands on Instagram.

The largest change will be in how brands research and choose which influencers to collaborate with. As a brand, if you’re in the market to either create or continue adding influencers to your current campaigns, here are some things to ask and look for:

  • Examples/results of previous ad campaign results
  • Is their engagement rate in line with the number of followers they have?
    • Total engagement/total followers x 100
  • Metrics from a few of their most recent posts
  • Make sure that they have a business account
  • If they have the swipe-up feature and you plan on them using Stories, ask for recent Stories and swipe-up metrics

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  • Media kit and rate card

Instagram and other social platforms will continue to evolve, keeping us on our toes and forcing us to think differently and more strategically. Being prepared and knowing how to adapt is key to succeeding at social media marketing.

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