Instagram is hiding likes on profiles. They’ve been testing this feature for over a year in different countries. Now, they’ve started to implement the change here in the U.S.
This is going to result in some shakeup in the influencer marketing industry.
Likes have been used since the very beginning by brands, agencies, and influencers to measure how a post performs and understand what works and what doesn’t. Now, these stakeholders will have to look elsewhere to measure their ROI.
Even though this is a radical change, it shows how the industry is maturing.
At best, likes have only ever been an “okay” metric for measuring engagement. Increasingly, it’s viewed as a “vanity metric.” It doesn’t really convey the important data – how many times a post was saved, the number of swipe ups on a story, promo code activations or affiliate-driven revenue.
These are the metrics that smart brands, agencies, and influencers are increasingly focused on.
Of course, there will be some changes that occur from Instagram removing likes. More specifically, since brands will no longer be able to independently verify influencer metrics, we expect influencer networks to become crucial in the post-like world.
Influencer networks help bridge the gap between influencers and brands. They consistently engage not only with brands but also with the influencers that are in their network.
For brands, this helps them verify key metrics and content quality without having to do their own homework. For influencers, being a part of a network is validates their work as a genuine content creator.
As Instagram hides likes, a strong relationship between brands and influencers is a must. And influencer networks can be a key middle man to help execute this relationship effectively.
What is an Influencer Network?
An Influencer Network is a closed, invite-only community of curated influencers and brands. What does that mean? It means that not just any random person with an Instagram account or any random brand can join. They need to sign-up and request an invitation.
In the case of our own influencer network, we require our influencers to download our iOS app and request to become a user. Once approved, influencers, become a part of our network.
This allows the network to ensure a consistently high-quality experience for everyone. Brands can expect to easily find talented influencers that have been vetted for credibility.
How do Influencer Networks work?
Here at Trend, we screen each profile that requests to join our community. This ensures they have a real following based in the US and a minimum threshold of followers. We then manually crawl through a profile to ensure the content a profile posts is consistently high-quality.
Essentially, we do the influencer discovery process for you every time. We have a team that dedicates time to both growing our community and vetting out our applicants.
This is tremendously important. What good is partnering with an account that has a huge following if they’re going to create a bad post for your brand?
Finally, we check the comments to ensure real people are interacting with the post and it’s not just bots or engagement pods. You want to make sure that your social media is working for you, not against you. So it’s better to take the time and do it right from the beginning.
Once in the network, brands can set up a campaign and influencers who are interested apply directly to your campaign. No more cold emails and pitches. We skip straight to the matchmaking part, which saves everyone a lot of time and busywork.
Something else worth noting: A lot of platforms will call themselves a network, but really they’re just a giant database. While every brand has unique needs and some may be better suited to a database, this is quite rare. They’re generally a huge hassle.
Why are Influencer Networks important?
A lot of influencer databases and search tools acquire their information by scraping millions of accounts on Instagram.
They’ll brag about their “network” having a huge reach, but they have no quality control. This means that a lot of junk ends up in the database. And that also means you have to sort through that junk.
It’s pretty common that if you search for car influencers in a database you’ll end up with results like @Toyota, @Toyota_USA, and local dealerships. Not exactly very useful.
Even after you find accounts that are a match, you need to initiate communication with them, wait to hear back, negotiate a payment rate, take care of legal and logistical details, and then wait for them to (maybe) post.
Overall, it’s a very time and labor-intensive process.
How Influencer Networks help you cut through the noise
Influencer networks come with a lot of additional benefits that give you more bang for your buck:
At Trend, for instance, there’s no price negotiation between brands and influencers, which makes the entire process quick and scalable. The influencer payment is included in the price you pay to access the platform, so it’s one simple, straightforward fee.
We also provide brands with a license to the content created so they can repurpose into their own social media, website, ads, and more.
This is hugely important – brands love repurposing content from influencers, but unless they explicitly arranged for this ahead of time, they have a lot of liability in repurposing content that’s not theirs for commercial use.
The importance of Influencer Networks in a post-like world
Influencer networks save you time and money – what’s not to love?
Now, as Instagram begins to hide likes, they’ll also have an additional feature that makes them an essential tool for anyone doing influencer marketing:
They have access to Instagram data.
Running a campaign through an influencer network will allow brands to track likes, comments, and impressions, as well as additional metrics like swipe-ups and affiliate links.
They make it much easier to track and ascribe ROI. This will become increasingly difficult to do in-house since brands will have less and less data available to them.
Apart from having the numbers and the data, influencer networks will also give you access to more, and better quality, UGC, which will also become increasingly valuable in a post-likes world.
High-quality UGC can be repurposed on blogs, websites, ads and paid social to drive more clicks, conversions, and sales.
And like we mentioned earlier, you want social media to work for you, not against you. By using an influencer network a brand is better able to control their narrative.
You can isolate negative reviews or bad posts with a consistent influencer-marketing campaign, leverage an active online presence as social proof to make your brand appear larger and more established than it actually is (which makes consumers more likely to trust and purchase), and so much more.
Why influencers need influencer networks with Instagram hiding likes
As an influencer, it can be tempting to create a media kit and work independently – pitch yourself directly to brands via cold emails or DMs and negotiate your own partnerships. We love and respect the hustle. And you can absolutely continue doing this.
But we would also encourage you to apply and join an influencer network.
Pretty soon, brands won’t be able independently to verify your metrics. Sure, you say that you average 300 likes a post, but they can’t see it from themselves. And sure, you could send along screenshots or documentation that says you average 300 likes, but again, they can’t verify it for themselves.
And even if they could, they then still have to negotiate a rate with you, coordinate legal and logistical details, and wait for you to post.
Why would a brand do all of that when they could quickly and easily arrange partnerships on an influencer network?
While you should continue reaching out independently and negotiating partnerships you should also join an influencer network. Doing both give you the best chance of finding Instagram sponsorship opportunities.
This will allow you to easily and quickly strike partnerships with great brands since they have the peace of mind of knowing you’ve been vetted. And you still get unique products for free + payment once a post has been created.
Influencer Networks have better brands for influencers
Here at Trend, we check that their products unique and worth posting out. We also want to make sure that they’re already active on Instagram and understand both the industry and the effort that you put into creating content for them.
With that in mind, we expect them to treat you respectfully, and not like some random freelancer that’s working on a campaign (which is, sadly, all too common).
After all, we’re an influencer network, not a brand network. We’re all about empowering influencers and positioning you for success. More partnerships, less time spent negotiating. What’s not to love? Apply for your partnership to Trend today!