Social media is indisputably a critical part of our every day life and modern culture. It shapes not only how we interact but how we look at the world. It's not uncommon to see young people out with their friends posing endlessly to get the perfect image or selfie.
This creates a lot of pressure on young people, and is now commonly associated with a rise in depression. Reportedly in response to this issue, social platforms are now slowly rolling out the removal of showing likes and engagements. In this blog, Hollywood Branded examines the decision to remove likes from Facebook and Instagram and what that means for brands.
As our agency runs an influencer marketing division, we can tell you that the decision to begin hiding likes on Facebook and Instagram will make our lives a little more difficult. Partnering brands with the right influencers requires a certain amount of vetting to determine that both the influencer is a good fit but also that their content yields engagements that actually justify a paid partnership. Needless to say that while removing likes creates a small barrier, it's not putting us into an extreme state of panic.
Our agency believes in full transparency, so let's dive in and talk about how we determine in an influencer is a good match for our client.
What We Look For
You hear people talk about engagement all the time in our world. For starters, yes we look at likes and comments. An influencer has to have engagement from at least two percent of their following. We calculate how many engagements an influencer gets on their content and if it's less than that, we'll pass on working with them because their reach is low and even if their followers are real, the content isn't resonating with them.
Similarly, we look at likes and comments to determine if the engagements are consistent. If a post gets 1,532 likes and 50 comments, those likes are probably fake. If the comments seem vague, generic and inconsistent - they're probably fake. Some influencers have very obvious tells that their engagements are fake while others are a little craftier. For instance, a lot of micro and nano influencers form influencer clusters - groups where they work together to post comments on each others content when it goes up so they maintain a certain level of "real" looking comments. This is of course, a clever lie to fool brands and agencies into thinking that the influencer has a reach that attracts authentic engagements. The longer you work in influencer marketing, the faster you get at noticing the trends in influencers who follow each other. Nine times out of ten, it's not just a coincidence and they don't just happen to altruistically like each other.
Once we've determined that the content seems to attract genuine engagements, we reach out to the influencer to see if they're interested in working with the brand. If we both agree it seems like it could be a good fit, time to send them the contract, right? Well, not just yet. Next we ask them to send us some more metrics. With so many different ways that influencers can flub results on a one sheet (and we've seen many that do - no shade, I respect the hustle) we ask them to send us screen shots of how other partnerships performed both in content as well as stories.
Reporting metrics for Instagram stories is absolutely crucial because stories can have direct swipe up links and the metrics allow you to see how many followers actually do swipe and engage with the content. Again, influencer clusters can affect this too. It's easy for them to swipe up on each other's stories, and that is why it's important be able to monitor the success on the brand's back end. You'll want to make sure you're able to get metrics of how sales are performing to determine the correlation between site visits and actual sales.
To be fair, you shouldn't expect your influencer marketing campaign to be the be all end all of your driving sales solutions. In fact, this is one of the biggest misconceptions about influencer marketing. Many brands come to the table with the expectation that influencers will save the day and sales will go through the roof. We would love it if that were the case but unless you have the budget to get a mass of celebrity influencers to work with you, that's really not how you should look at it. Rather influencers are like billboards. You want to have them positioned frequently along the proper routes that you can expect to find your demographic so that they're consistently in sight of your core audience. As usual, slow and steady wins the race. You want audiences to build a relationship with your brand through media that resonates with them.
With all of this in mind, it's really not that scary for brands and agencies that social platforms like Facebook and Instagram are removing the ability to see likes. Simply put, we will still require influencers to share their metrics with us so we can assess the success of their content. If removing the visibility of this engagement has a positive impact on the users experience, it's only to our advantage if it keeps them actively using it. I can't tell you how many times my friends have taken social media sabbaticals because frankly, social platform fatigue is a very real thing.
What It Means
While I think any measure to improve the user's experience is great for everyone involved, I do (as the writer, who can only speak on his own views and not on behalf of this agency) question the sincerity of this move. Facebook and Instagram of course offer their own advertising abilities built into each platform to help brands target their audience. Frankly I don't think it's a coincidence that this measure that will attempt to improve the psychology of social media also happens to create one more road block in using influencer marketing. A quality marketing program targeting millenials and Gen Z should be robust and utilize multiple avenues - not just influencers but also built in programs like Facebook Advertising and podcast advertising. But as many brands don't have the budget to pursue every avenue simultaneously many of them understandably gravitate toward the appeal of influencer marketing over built in programs, and the move to hide likes will naturally create apprehension toward it.
Ready For More?
Want to further your knowledge about best marketing practices for influencer marketing? We've written plenty of other blog posts on the topics as well for you to check out!
- Marketing From An Influencer's Perspective
- Decoding The Illusion of Bots In Influencer Marketing
- Successful Influencer Marketing On A Small Budget
- The Types of Social Influencers (Infographic)
- Create Brand Partnerships Through Influencer Marketing