“Quynh Mai, founder and CEO at digital agency Moving Image & Content, said a future without Instagram likes could mean brands and influencers will work a little harder at creating a community on the platform.
“You see a lot more [YouTube] influencers building careers, businesses, brands, out of their influence than Instagram influencers, because that ecosystem is about building community, responding to comments, reading fan letters in a YouTube video — a deeper engagement with the fanbase — where Instagram engagement with your fan base was based on emojis and thumbs up and likes, which is a very shallow measurement of community,” she said.
YouTube stars like Jeffree Star create frenzies over their product launches or events because their audiences are so engaged.
“It just hasn’t happened in the same way on Instagram or Facebook,” she said. “By removing likes, I’m hopeful that this [would] force the brands as well as influencers to take the time to build community and not just fans. As Gen Z grows up, their mandate for engagement is so different. They want a vote … they want to be a part of the conversation.”
Instagram’s test of hiding “likes” on posts just expanded to more markets around the globe. For influencers, or individuals who work with brands to promote services or products on social media, this will likely mean a continued shift away from “vanity metrics” — such as likes or follower counts — and a focus on actual sales.