Instagram is expected to surpass 111 million users as 2019 nears an end. Facing changes in user mindset and content consumption, and a quickly evolving social media landscape, the app is shifting focus towards authenticity, connection with community and content creation.

Introducing Instagram’s newest update, testing hiding likes for certain users. In mid-July Instagram announced the pilot’s rollout in seven countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. By making like counts private, Instagram wanted to send a clear message. Per an Instagram spokesperson, “we want your followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.”

Going further Adam Mosseri, CEO of Instagram said, “The idea is to try to depressurize Instagram, make it less of a competition, and give people more space to focus on connecting with the people they love and things that inspire them.”

As the app shifts in focus to making meaningful connections and seeking inspiration, we can’t help but wonder – What does this mean for influencer marketing? Influencers have long relied on their engagement metrics to prove their reach in order to qualify for brand partnerships. Will users still feel the need to interact with their favorite brands and influencers when the likes aren’t displayed, or will they simply scroll by? With this update rolling out it also raises the bigger question for brands who seek influencer partnerships – how will brands vet influencers for authenticity and engagement when the only visually public information is the comments section?

In November Instagram continued rolling out hidden likes to other countries after their initial push in the summer. This expansion included some users in the United States for the first time, sparking new conversations about Instagram’s future.

Personally, this update has us excited for the future of this platform. The ability to create content and share it with followers without numerical values being applied to the post will allow creators to feel more motivated to share what they love with their curated community.

As for influencer marketing, the hiding of likes may open up the dialogue between the brand and the influencer. We predict conversations arising on how best to determine other metrics to evaluate influencer’s ROI. We also predict brands will begin evaluating success of an influencer partnership based on the quality of content being delivered and posted from the influencer as well as the utilization of tags in IG Stories to drive traffic back to the brand’s Instagram account.

What do you think of Instagram’s newest update, and how do you think it will affect influencer marketing as we know it?

Written by Kayla Favaloro