When Instagram’s CEO Adam Mosseri announced last November 8, that was getting ready to hide like counts on it’s photo sharing service, social media users across the globe and Influencers in Cameroon were taken by surprise. No one had expected this measure and the results that surfaced after the test went into effect in selected countries were drastic. In Australia for example, Many users reported a quick drop in their count likes and engagement metrics.
The experimentation with hiding like counts from its users began in the U.S and Canada, and subsequently expanded to half a dozen other countries including Brazil, Japan and Australia. Now instagram is making Like counts private for some users everywhere on the globe, Cameroon not an exception. If you are amongst the small percentage of users for the experiment, you’ll still be able to see how often a post of yours has been liked, but your like counts won’t be displayed to followers anymore, and won’t appear in public Instagram feeds. rather than seeing the exact like counts on a publication, users will see “liked by (one or two names) and then ‘others’”
Facebook recently announced plans to test hidden like counts within its core Facebook app, starting with users in Australia. The two social media sites declared that the initiative was to encourage users to feel more comfortable sharing what’s important to them without the fear of publicly receiving an embarrassingly small number of Likes and users will have to decide for themselves if something is worth Liking rather than liking because many people liked. “We want people to worry a little less about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram and spend a little bit more time connecting with the people that they care about,” Instagram Head Adam Mosseri explained at Facebook’s annual F8 summit
While this may be a good incentive to encourage genuine engagement, this isn’t so good for people whose like counts are their sources of income. In other words, influencers have relied on their transparent influx of likes to attract brands and marketers. With this new shift of events, and if the test is implemented, it will be harder for influencers in Cameroon and the world at large to make money from influencer marketing.
Why will hiding like counts hurt influencers and content creators?
When marketers research or receive pitches from prospective influencers, they want to know that this influencer is worth marketing their product with. To determine this, marketers will look for noticeable signs that the influencer or company is popular, trusted and engaging on social media. This means that marketers might investigate visible engagements on influencers profiles such as likes, reactions or views. They might also request metrics from an influencer they’re interested in working with.
If an influencer gets a lot of likes, reactions, or video views on their posts, this shows that they’re engaging a large group of people. Seeing consistently low counts on their publications instead might make marketers think that their posts aren’t engaging. It has happened that we’ve refused to partner to work with bloggers or influencers because of awfully low rates of engagement on their publications and no evidence of traffic on their websites (topic for another post).
So back to the subject, without seeing these engagement metrics upfront, marketers will have to rely on other key metrics like comments, shares, views given to them by the influencer, to determine if followers are actually engaging with their content.
Hiding like counts may hurt content creators and influencers considerably in terms of revenue. As techcrunch analysed in their recent article, hidden like counts might reduce the overall ad spend on Instagram and Facebook if businesses feel it’s less important to rack up engagement and look popular. But it might also shift spend from influencer marketing that goes directly into the pockets of creators toward official instagram ads, thereby earning the company more money.
But for companies who will want to persist with partnering to work with influencers, influencer marketing agencies might have to rely on self reported screen shots from creators but the fear is these may be photoshopped to score undue rewards. Instagram expressed that it is actively working on ways that influencers will be able to communicate their value to partners. They may need to offer some sort of private URL, Partner dashboard that will enable influencer marketing agencies to see hidden like counts. Marketing agencies in Cameroon have probably considered new methods they’ll use to vet influencers if this hidden-like design test were to come to fruition.
As a digital marketing agency ourselves, we’ve got strategies to vet influencers which we believe other marketing agencies in Cameroon must have considered. Here are 4 strategies that marketers could undertake for their vetting. Just after these, we’ll give tips on how influencers can continue to attract marketers in a like-free space.
If like counts can’t be seen, marketers will obviously consider analysing the closest metrics to likes, which are comments. These comments will determine whether the audience is engaging in discussion, tagging their friends, or asking the influencer questions, or whether the post is receiving radio silence from their audience. If the first instance is true, marketers will realise that the influencer will be great at engaging discussions about topics related to their own company, and thus, a good fit for their brand. But in the second case, marketers will certainly not venture into partnership with an influencer who cannot stimulate discussions even on its own content.
2. Examine content quality.
Is the influencer’s content well thought of? Sharp and clean? Original or innovative? And does the influencer discuss topics in a way that provides value to the readers? If so, marketers will ascertain that the influencer might create this same level of content for their brand’s campaign.
3. Marketers will check out other social channels.
Marketers will not limit themselves to vetting one platform. Let’s say if they analyse engagement metrics on facebook, they will do the same for every other social platform where the influencer is active.
Why so? This will give marketers more post related metrics, like youtube, twitter, linkedin, or snapchat. If the influencer’s post is highly engaging, or has a high follower count, throughout different social platforms, the influencer might be a good influencer to partner to work with. If not, the influencer won’t be worth the partnership.
4. Research past clients.
An influencer who has had to work with other brands is always more credible than an influencer who hasn’t. Marketers invest their money where they will have high turnovers, so they mostimes vie for influencers with previous brand partnerships to be sure if they aren’t partnering to work with an ineffective influencer. The marketer will enquire if : the influencer has launched social media campaigns with other brands in its industry? Or if the influencer has a track record for solid ROI? If so, that’s a major reason why a marketer might want to work with the influencer.
There isn’t any other way of maintaining your position as a go-to influencer for partnerships, than to focus on creating content that’s valuable to your audience, content that generates comments, and gets shared. Having many comments and shares will make your content look more attractive to bigger brands that vet how interesting you are on social media.
Not to mention that content that is high-quality and encourage discussion will be most interesting to audiences in your scheme. Posts that fascinate people and achieve high engagement will be moved algorithmically on many social media platforms feeds.
If you find difficulties in generating comments and shares on your publications, here’s a simple trick for you: ask for them. 🙂
Ask your followers to engage with you. In every post, you may want to hashtag #share, #Sharingiscaring or something similar, to encourage your audience to share your publication. You can equally stimulate reactions by asking for their opinion. You could say: I’m curious to know what you think, or what do you think? etc
You may equally engage in a live question and answer session where viewers discuss the ideas they’ve shared with you. There are just so many ways of encouraging engagement, use them to the last.
All this said, If you can successfully create a long thread of comments on your facebook and instagram posts, a brand vetting you would likely be certain that you could equally create this kind of content for their brand that will engage their audiences and potentially gain them more followers, leads or sales.
Hence, work on creating content that will maximise comments and shares.
2. Get more reviews.
Aside from asking for comments and shares, go one step further and ask your audience to review you on your page. This way, brands will see high follower ratings on your page and page like buttons. If like counts on posts can not show, reviews will help maintain your credibility as an influencer. This is because reviews contain testimonies from actual humans, so, you can gain the trust of brands that vet into your profile, and new audiences just discovering you at the same time.
3. Leverage other social media platforms
If you have been just a Facebook influencer or an Instagram influencer until now, it’s time to cross new boundaries and visit new areas. In an event of like counts being hidden, brands will vet more thoroughly before partnering with an influencer. They’ll want to compare and contrast the engagement of your content in post-related platforms to check the relevance and engagement of your posts. If your presence is only limited to Facebook, brands may consider partnering with an influencer whose engagement is consistent across other mediums.
Those were the tricks you could use to stay on the game of influencer marketing.
Hiding like counts will encourage influencers to concentrate on the meaningfulness of their content, rather than just posting for likes; for me ;). Brands will look forward to working with influencers that create meaningful posts that are both valuable to audiences and have other solid valuable engagement metrics like shares and comments. Thus, if you are fortunate to get hundreds of interactions on your publications in a like-free era, requests for partnership will continue filling your inbox as before.
If this talk about influencer marketing has got you interested in branding yourself as an influencer, check out this guide on how to become an influencer in cameroon. Meantime, you can scour our blog to read other articles.
Tadbet Averra is the Public Relations Officer and Content Manager at digital Gong Technologies, a branding, strategic and creative digital marketing agency in Douala, Cameroon. She’s provided content marketing and strategy advice for the agency and its clients. She also holds a Bsc degree in Journalism and Mass communication.
Digital Gong Technologies is made up of a group of passionate technologists, marketing strategists, learners, and creatives, putting out efforts to increase customer satisfaction and retention by intersecting Marketing, Technology, and Design.