Recently, Instagram has started testing hiding “vanity metrics” on posts for users in a handful of countries. It’s being called the “Instagram like count ban” online. The platform argues that getting rid of publicly-visible like counts and video views on posts will help “reduce pressure” and encourage people to focus more on the quality of the photos and videos they share, rather than “how many likes they get.” Instagram also has a renewed focus on how the platform affects users’ mental health, and they believe this change will be a step toward positively improving users’ well-being online.
For those in the influencer marketing industry, the news headlines in the wake of this testing probably seem pretty scary. Many people are wondering what, if any, effect this will have on influencers, with some going so far as to speculate that this could be a devastating shift to the industry.
Don’t worry about the hype
Scare tactics and sensational headlines aside, there are some things to remember to help put this all into perspective. First, this is still being tested. Instagram hasn’t rolled this out completely, and for all anyone knows, they could decide not to move forward with the change after testing. Also, users can still see who liked and viewed their posts – they just can’t see likes and views on someone else’s. So while likes are important to show potential collaborators proof of audience engagement, there are still ways to prove that metric outside of public view
Most importantly, however, influencers need to remember that so much of the work comes from building relationships that turn into quality content. While follower count and engagement are important metrics that brands look at when deciding whether or not to invest time and resources into an influencer, the rapport you develop will always lead to a more lucrative partnership in the long run.
What can you, an influencer, do to build stronger relationships with brands? For starters, you can go beyond just promoting a brand’s product and actually champion its mission. Is that sneaker brand you’re working with (or want to work with) putting out some cool content on their blog? Comment on it and let them know what you like about it. Share the content with your friends and family, and let them know the cool stuff that company is doing. Show the brand you care about their voice and the community they want to build, not just getting paid to promote their product.
Creating quality content is also an essential part of building lasting relationships. It’s not just about that taking that flawless shot or crafting a perfect caption. Let those you influence know why you care about the brand you’re working with. Make it personal; sharing more intimately with your audience about the partnership ultimately shows the brand you care.
Take the lemons and make lemonade
Focusing on building lasting relationships with brands and creating genuine content are ways you can show brands that you’re worth the investment. Likes and video views will always be important, but there’s more to influencer marketing than “vanity metrics.” Show brands you care about the partnership on a deeper level, and the Instagram like count ban won’t matter.
Often times, great challenges bring about even greater opportunities. Scary headlines may tell you this change is a bad sign, but the truth is, it could actually be a great thing for influencers if we let it.