We’re one week out from Instagram’s announcement that they’re going to experiment with hiding public “likes” for select users in the US. While we’re continuing to learn more about what this looks like in practice – in theory, we’re excited by the opportunity we see to reestablish creativity as a marker of success for content on Instagram. We were interested in how our customers were taking the news.
Southwest Airlines’ Associate Manager of Influencer Marketing & Performance Media Brie Strickland offered their perspective on the announcement to hide public “likes” on Instagram.
Interview with Southwest’s Brie Strickland
How will hiding public “likes” impact your influencer strategy?
Whether or not this changes our strategy or our metrics remains to be seen (too soon to make any concrete decisions), but I really doubt it. The removal of one vanity metric from the public’s eye shouldn’t send any brand into a panic.
What is the biggest impact this change has on brands?
Overall, I think the removal of “likes” will help accelerate the shift we are already seeing from macro to micro influencers. Influencers who already have a niche, engaged audience will continue to thrive where those macro-influencers who are more driven by vanity metrics may no longer be as successful. I think brands will also begin to put more weight and emphasis on evaluating content creation.
How will hiding “likes” impact metrics or results you measure your influencer campaigns against?
We’ve never put all our eggs in the “likes” basket and that viewpoint has seemed to pay off long term. In determining ROI, we’ll continue to approach it from multiple angles. We’ll look at it from the lens of content creation, penetrating new and niche audiences, and authentic engagement in the form of direct messages, comments, etc. “Likes”, in my opinion, have always been an extremely passive action and the “laziest” type of engagement. How many of us endlessly scroll Instagram almost compulsively liking content? I’m looking forward to brands and influencers moving beyond this passive engagement into deeper and more meaningful interactions with consumers.
How will this change impact how you evaluate what creators you collaborate with?
We’ll start digging deeper into engagement and the influence creators have with consumers and communities. I’m excited that this change will take some of the popularity contest out of influencer marketing and refocus attention to strong content creators and folks that build incredible social communities and followings. I actually believe the term influence will finally grow into its own once brands can no longer obsess over a vanity metric like “likes”. We’ve always valued creators with a strong brand affinity and talent for creation so we’ll continue to evaluate folks based on the pillars that also define us a beloved brand.
What are your thoughts on Instagram’s stance that the change is being made to make IG a safer place, especially for younger demographics? What responsibilities do you think brands have in this effort?
I appreciate and value how in tune Facebook is and their commitment to social responsibility and mental health. I’ve often worried that the influencer industry is a painfully vain one that forces people to measure their worth based on a “like”. We’re now able to focus more on the power of building community and developing content which I believe speaks more deeply to a creator or influencer. Hopefully the influencer industry trends more collaborative with this change and influencers feel less pressure to capture “likes” with an ever-changing and challenging algorithm. Anyone who engages in the space, brands included, is responsible for how social media captures and shapes society. Brands, with their power of the purse, are especially responsible for holding the platforms accountable for creating safe and healthy environments that social media to connect and foster humanity, not divide and tear it down.
Thanks for offering up your perspective Brie. It was certainly worth sharing. We’ll keep our ears to the ground on the latest and greatest news on this and other news coming out of the socialsphere.
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