Instagram’s decision to hide likes took all digital marketing operators by surprise, creating a heated debate on the possible consequences. Six months after Instagram’s decision to hide likes in Italy, our “Influencer Marketing Observatory” investigated the real impact of the disappearance of likes. The analysis revealed changes in the likes before and after the start of the test, taking into consideration the entire market first and then four relevant sectors.
The average number of interactions increased
The observation considered two-time intervals, the first from 15 May to 15 July 2019 (before the likes were hidden) and the second from 25 September to 25 November 2019. The sample of posts analysed is from Italian users who used transparency hashtags in the two periods (#ad, #sponsored, #fornitoda, etc.).
In the first period, 20.7 million likes were recorded for 15 thousand contents, while in the second, 56.4 million with 36 thousand posts. In order to be able to compare the data of the two periods, the like-per-post index was used in order to obtain the average data per post.
Contrary to expectations, the result was an increase in average interactions of 13.68%.
In short, users paid no attention to the disappearance of the hearts, continuing to actively interact with the influencers’ posts.
Comparison by industry
In order to investigate the phenomenon more closely, our Observatory focused its attention on four sectors that are highly leveraged by Influencer Marketing: fashion, beauty, accessories and food.
The first 200 posts with the most engagement for each category were labelled, with a tag being assigned to each one, according to their area of competence. The test showed that the two most active sectors, clothing and cosmetics, did not suffer any impact in terms of engagement. Specifically, an average of 3600 more likes were found on posts by fashion influencers, an increase of 6.33%. The increase for beauty creators was 3.2% lower with 1400 hearts more than in the previous period.
Quite the opposite for posts in the accessories and food sectors, which saw a slight decrease in average performance. The greatest drop in performance occurred in posts that sponsored accessories (-2.98% or -1700 likes per post), and food (-1.77% equal to 871 average interactions).
Future implications for the disappearance of likes
This first analysis fully justifies the decision made by Mark Zuckerberg; in fact, users have shown that they are not conditioned by the judgement of others. Evidently the quality of the posts and peoples’ trust in influencers have helped to keep attention focused. It is no coincidence that the future intent seems to be to make this decision permanent and, who knows, maybe even extend it to Facebook.
Our “Influencer Marketing Observatory” will continue to monitor the situation with new analyses in the future to provide a definitive answer to the question asked at the beginning of the article.
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This post is also available in: Italian