UK: A World Without Likes

Last Updated: 6 August 2019
Article by Caroline Swain

Last week Instagram announced that it has increased the remit of its trial involving hiding the number of "likes" on posts.

The initial trial which took place in Canada in May was the first attempt by Instagram to counteract the accusation that use of the social media platform is leading to low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy amongst young people. The trial has now been expanded to users in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, Japan and Brazil.

Instagrammers in those countries will still be able to view the number of likes on their posts but other users will simply see a user name "and others" below the post without a corresponding total number.

For Influencers and Brands this presents a material challenge to the existing ways of monitoring engagement and ROI. While Influencers can still provide a screenshot of their likes for measurement purposes the visual impact of "likes" on a page will be gone and like wars will become a thing of the past.

It is likely that more active user engagements such as shares or comments may take precedence over likes as a mode of measuring impact going forwards. Click through rates will remain a key metric for many. Contractually, Influencer agreements including payment mechanisms that are centered around the number of likes may have to be re-visited and new metrics for measuring ROI determined.

The positive for all Instagram users following this development, if indeed it is rolled out universally, should be an increase in quality, inventive creatives and messaging trumping the overly curated, attention-snatching, content that is prevalent at the moment.

The key for Brands from a contractual perspective is to make sure you have a right to vary the contract on notice to the Influencer. While social media and influencer marketing continue to evolve at pace the relevant contracts need to stay agile and/or short term.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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