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What “No-Likes” on Instagram means for fraudulent influencer activity

Even though it’s yet to land in the UK or US, Instagram have announced that they’re removing likes from Instagram. The reason?

To change social media behaviours and get their users to “focus on the pictures and videos you share” rather than its popularity. Ultimately, they have the intention of helping their consumers’ mental health.

From a brand point of view, this should mean that businesses change their focus from the vanity metrics of likes and views. However, when it comes to reporting on your owned and earned social channels, you’ll still be able to see the numbers associated to engagement. You’ll also still be able to ask influencers for their data, meaning there will still be pressure for the content to perform well.

The big question for me – and many others in the industry, agencies and influencers alike – is around influencer fraud; the hot topic within the space. In the simplest terms, influencers can fake their engagement by paying for people to like and comment on their channel, or they can buy followers.

The benefit is brands will have to get smarter and use more archetypal alignment for who they choose, and they won’t be able to scroll through, focusing on the vanity metrics. This should also change the quality of what influencers post, without feeling the pressure from an algorithmic world to keep building on your engagement.

In terms of fraud, it will be harder to spot when influencers have paid for their engagement as you can’t see those telltale quick spikes. But in the same vein, it may slow down the need to purchase fake engagement if it’s not as visible.

Thinking from a brand and an influencer point of view, this may also impact the consumer’s need to like posts. And, again, will question the need for Instagram Pods – another influencer hack to build engagement meaning they too could become redundant.

One rumour that’s risen its head again is that this is all part of Facebook’s creators wanting to take more ownership of influencer partnerships, cutting out the need for third parties.

Going forward it will be interesting to see whether any of these other rumours become true. Instagram may be trialing hiding likes, but will they move into removing follower number count too? And what would the effect of that be?