We are in the age of awareness marketing, not influencer marketing.
The marketing world has gone crazy for Influencers. Or at least it likes to think it has. According to Marketing Week, the number of Instagram posts using the hashtag #Ad is up 150% in 2018 compared to 2017.
Having worked in the digital and social space for close to 10 years now, I’m kind of done with the mindset that having a large following makes you an influencer or of value, when in fact if you look under the surface, these accounts are anything but influencers.
A more correct term for these type of accounts or individuals would be “Amplifiers” because the end result of their content is anything but influential.
Content is more influential than the influencer.
Simply put how many people really, truly care for the “influencers” in such a way that whatever they say or do is considered influential?
We are in a moment in time where Instagram is the platform that everyone is turning to.
At its heart, Instagram is about the image, not the individual. It’s about how the image looks, the editing and less about the copy.
Even this article argues that the current Instagram aesthetic is over and it proves that there is a trend at play that drives us to like a post based on what aesthetic is currently trending.
Instagram Likes count will be gone.
By now you couldn’t have missed the fact that Instagram is planning to remove the Like count on posts. But if you did here you go.
Likes have never been more than an indication of the minimum number of people who had seen the post. Without insight into post impressions, Likes were the only indicator brands and users had to indicate the extent to which a post had been seen.
A Like is an empty engagement indicator, it serves very little purpose outside of making the user feel good (or bad) that what they had posted has approval from those that have seen it.
There are a few things brands should do next
1. Focus on communities
Find the community builders that have gathered a group of like-minded and same values-driven individuals. They should be prioritized rather than those who just have a large following.
Yes, this means you need to lean into an individual’s social profile analytics more so than you do now but, if the aim is to drive deeper engagement that converts to sales, identifying if they have the right audience is the key to actually winning in the end.
2. Collaborate with smaller Influencers
As of last year, more and more brands are shifting to smaller influencers (with 800 to 10,000 followers).
Nano or micro or whatever cool label somebody made up for them, are a far more interesting proposition to brands as they will usually have a more niche-down following that’s interested and far more passionate about a specific topic or category.
For us, this is the right strategy and helps brands with tiny budgets to reach some sort of scale by engaging with multiple lower-cost influencers (assuming that they charge less due to lower follower numbers).
In essence, nothing has changed as the real value drivers are still there and the human behavior hasn’t shifted.
The Like counter going away only marks an industry correcting itself in order to highlight the true value and success parameters.