Instagram users across the US are starting to see their likes disappear as the photo app tests out hiding likes globally. This change has been a long time coming and the feature has been tested for over a year in other countries.
It goes without saying that the influencer marketing industry will be greatly impacted by this change.
Likes have been a crucial metric for everyone in the industry, from brands to influencers to agencies and more. Understandably, there’s been a lot of concern about the shift away from likes.
But there doesn’t have to be.
The truth is that leaders in the influencer marketing space have been moving away from likes for a long time.
It’s a ‘vanity metric” that doesn’t really provide the information brands are looking for. Instagram hiding likes is simply accelerating this shift. Instead, you can expect UGC to play a much greater role in Instagram marketing over the coming months and years.
What is UGC?
User-generated content (UGC) is any piece of content – including images, blogs, video, and chat forums – created by users of a product.
All UGC types share a common thread – they are proven to be highly influential in the purchasing decisions of potential buyers. These brand advocates are now viewed as being more effective in driving sales than professional marketers – and that’s huge.
Here are a couple of user-generated content examples:
With Instagram hiding likes, expect more UGC. Here’s why.
Since people won’t be pressured into playing a numbers game, they will start to post more of what they genuinely enjoy. This will be a stark change from the usual posting for what will generate the most likes and make their profile stand out.
No one likes to see a post fail. In the era of visible Instagram likes, many influencers had to consider potential likes received when posting content.
Now that Instagram is hiding likes, this won’t matter anymore. No one (aside from yourself) will be able to tell if a post is “succeeding” or not. This will lead to an increase in authentic content.
Additionally, Instagram usage has been growing and will only continue to grow. The app has over a billion users, and 60% of them log in daily, making it the second most engaged social network in the world.
Usage even doubled from June 2016 and 2018, and now over 100 million posts are uploaded daily. These numbers are only going to continue to grow.
And from an influencer marketing perspective, Instagram will continue to be an essential player: brands receive 10X more engagement on IG than FB, 54X more than Pinterest, and 84X more than Twitter.
These relationships and engagements will continue to exist, even if likes are no longer visible.
However, instead of the “vanity” metrics of likes, brands and influencers will look at how many times a post was saved, the number of swipe ups on a story, promo code activations or affiliate-driven revenue.
Why growing UGC needs to be leveraged by brands
The coming wave of UGC means that brands should start tapping into and leveraging this content more if they aren’t already doing so.
UGC gives you a constant stack of fresh, engaging creative that you can repurpose. This saves you the time, money and hassle of having to organize an entire professional shoot to get great product shots.
With Trend’s influencer platform, brands receive full licensing rights to influencer content. This huge due to the fact that acquiring licensing rights can be a pretty complex process. And get you into hot water if you use content without rights.
If you have licensing rights, you can turn it around that content and leverage it for basically anything - paid social, ads, social proof on your website, newsletters, and so much more.
Have you ever visited a company website with stale, generic product pictures, or, even worse, stock photos? It’s tragic.
Layering in good UGC makes your brand much more relatable and dynamic - which leads to an improved bottom line.
How brands can generate more UGC
UGC isn’t actually created by your brand. It’s created by your users. In other words, no brand actually creates its own UGC.
Instead, they leverage influencer marketing and brand advocates to create content for them. This allows the content to be authentic, relatable, and drive more clicks and conversions than in-house content.
The easiest way to plug into influencer marketing is by signing up for a curated influencer network. Trend is the only platform that has a curated influencer network.
This is a stark contrast from influencer databases that haven’t created any relationships with the influencers in their database. Trend, on the other hand, has done the work of finding and vetting high-quality creators.
We take our relationship with our influencers very seriously and only work with the most talented.
As a brand, all you have to do once you sign up is create a campaign, review the applications from influencers that are interested in working with you, and approve the ones that align with your vision.
It’s straightforward and allows you to quickly, scalably generate outstanding UGC to use as-needed.
Notice how we said the word “outstanding” UGC. This is important! Like everything else in life, there’s good UGC, and then there’s bad UGC. Don’t repurpose bad UGC.
How do you spot the difference? It’s actually pretty easy
Great user generated content
Poor user generated content
Content Creators Must Prioritize Great Content after Instagram Hides Likes
The title (and photo) above pretty much sums it up: if you’re a content creator, it’s essential that you create good content. That might seem like common sense, but you know what they say about that.
Historically, a fair amount of influencers have been able to get away with producing average or even low-quality content because of the large number of likes the post received.
Sure, the image wasn’t great, but if they could turn around and show the brand that they generated 2,000 likes on a single post, they could probably get away with it.
As Instagram transitions to showing posts without like likes, the emphasis will be exclusively on, well, the post itself.
Accounts that have always dedicated themselves to producing captivating, beautiful images are well-positioned for the post-Instagram hiding likes world. These accounts will do even better going forward, with fewer influencers busy playing the numbers game.
Accounts that have gotten by purely on engagement metrics will need to start changing their approach to Instagram, the sooner the better. Don’t worry though - we got you covered! Our Instagram page has great tips and strategies on how to level up your profile and find more opportunities.