In Q3, Instagram announced they were testing the end of ‘Likes’, and Facebook is following suit in Australia. Why? To break the connection between self-esteem and social media presence. The user will still have visibility of their total likes-per-update (so is the end goal really being achieved?) however followers won’t have sight of the numbers, and comments will still be available.
Instagram is arguably the most effective social media platform for brands. Whether they’re looking to dedicate serious budget or utilise their organic reach, if brands can establish the type of content their audience want to see from them, they can become part of the 4.2 billion Likes that are shared every day. It’s not just Likes users are playing with – an article by Hubspot reported that more than 72% of Instagram users have purchased something they’ve seen on the platform.
With an audience ready to splurge, and brands with a social media budget, it all comes down to numbers, ROI and quantifying spend. Without visibility of how an Instagram post is performing, it’s going to be incredibly frustrating for marketing teams. It’s also been reported that the lack of Likes is already impacting reach for many key influencers, whose livelihood and reputation are based on their Instagram audience.
Boosting your profile and SERP
For brands that haven’t dipped their toe into the world of influencer marketing, there are a whole host of benefits for your digital presence. Put simply, done well it can strengthen your brand, widen your audience, boost sales and do wonders for your SEO.
Working with an influencer can be done in a number of ways; product placement in a paid Instagram post, PR samples (not guaranteed), a press trip, taking on brand ambassadors or a long-term collaboration. Once agreements are in place and contracts signed, all (hopefully positive!) mentions of your brand widen the net of your potential audience, spreading the word and directing people to your website. If you’re mentioned in the description box of a video on YouTube or a blog post on a website with a high Domain Authority (DA), this will boost your SEO ranking.
‘Influencer marketing and fyre festival’
By now most people have heard about 2017’s infamous Fyre Festival – whether that were through the news at the time, or this year’s Netflix documentary, FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened. Influencers played a pivotal part in kicking off the PR party, with social media snippets being sent out in the lead up to the ‘big day’ (models, bikinis, speedboats etc.). Lots of noise and excitement, that gradually dwindled into nothing. Literally. It’s the perfect example of influencer marketing gone wrong – throwing money at a dream marketing ploy, without any real connection to what you’re trying to achieve, or a mapped out journey of how you’re going to reach your customer and achieve your KPIs.
If measurement and numbers had never existed, it’s arguable that brands wouldn’t have placed as much emphasis on influencer marketing as they do today – Estée Lauder reportedly spend 75% of its digital marketing budget on social media influencers – or the uptake would have been much more gradual.
That’s not to say that brands are attracted to as many followers 000s as possible. Micro-influencers – typically, those with 10,000-500,000 followers on social media – often have a small(er), highly engaged audience that are much more likely to convert than an influencer with 4-50 times those numbers, who can struggle to get their content in front of the vast proportion of their followers. Micro-influencers may be experts in a niche area – and if a brand finds the perfect romance, it can be a truly beautiful thing, for everyone.
If Fyre Festival taught influencers anything, it’s that honesty and transparency mean everything to your credentials.
Talking of transparency – your followers will be able to smell a desperate collaboration a mile off. So stick to the rules – and not just the ASA’s rules. Make sure you’re using #ad #spon or #sponsored in the hashtag section, lead with ADVERT or the such like in the description, label both Instagram stories and grid updates as ‘paid partnership with…’ (you can find these in Settings if you have a Business account) and you’ll be all gravy with everyone. Just don’t overdo it. Or try and sell anti-bloat tea when you’re pregnant. Choose your collaborations wisely – stay on brand with who you are as an influencer.
If influencer marketing and content creator collaboration haven’t been weaved into your digital marketing strategy yet, it’s time to start thinking about it. A really smart strategy with budget behind it can work wonders for a lot of brands – think long-term collaborations with creators that suit your business, love what you sell, can create fantastic content with you, share it with their audience and report back with their learnings. Imagine this integrated into your own digital marketing strategy – a new product launch, re-brand or event, strengthening the message you’re sending out. Even with the uncertain future of influencer marketing and lack of visibility in engagement, it’s an area of digital marketing that should have more focus placed on customer relationships than Likes on photos. Email sign-ups, CTR, Instagram Stories product sales and new followers are worth far more to a brand in the long-term, anyway.