News & Views

How Hiding Likes Will Impact Destination Marketers

Yes. It is True. Instagram announced that they are hiding the number of likes and video views on the platform to people in the U.S. starting this week and just yesterday, added that the test roll out will now be applied globally. You are probably wondering how hiding likes will impact destination marketers. We’ve got you covered.

We’ve anticipated this news since earlier this year because the company began testing this feature in seven other markets this summer, which included Canada. When it rolled out in Canada, half of our Toronto team members could no longer see likes on Instagram unless they clicked on the likes and manually counted them. No thank you.

Before we dive into the what this means for destination marketers, both on the tourism and economic development sides of the industry, I think it helps to understand the reasons that are driving these changes at Instagram and more broadly across several social platforms. Facebook (Instagram’s parent company) has also started hiding like counts in an Australian test market, and YouTube and Twittehave also tested removing the public engagement metrics from their platforms.

Why the change? Instagram’s CEO, Adam Mosseri, stated during last week’s Wired25 Symposium that the company is more focused on fostering conversations and the creation of high quality content than on popularity contests. Hiding like counts is one of a handful of changes that Instagram has rolled out on its quest to become a safe place on the internet and to create a less pressurized environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.

Balancing the needs of content creators, brands, and the average Instagram user is a difficult task. And while making this platform a safer place may seem to be a lofty goal, Mosseri emphasized that Instagram will always place the needs of people first. At the Wired conference, he stated what these changes mean. He said, “We’re going to put a 15-year-old kid’s interests before a public speaker’s interest…When we look at the world of public content, we’re going to put people in that world before organizations and corporations.”

So, this is where we are now. It’s not a bad place to be but it can be uncomfortable for destination marketers who have crafted digital marketing strategies around “traditional” KPIs, such as engagement rates. Preliminary results from the other seven markets (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Brazil, Japan and New Zealand) where hiding the number of likes has been introduced show that this generally leads to decreasing engagements rates on Instagram content. We anticipate that engagement rates will become less of an important metric over time, and potentially the Instagram API will block third party tools from scraping engagement rates from brand and influencer accounts.

How will you measure success on social media and with digital influencer partnerships?

Two words: Business objective.

Social media marketing and influencer marketing are moving away from counting followers, likes and comments as primary metrics of success and emphasizing business objective as the ultimate measure of success. The business objective can be one of two types:

  • Brand awareness: This represents how familiar your target audience is with your destination and/or organization. Success can be measured by impressions/reach, number of content saves, number or sentiment of comments, use of hashtags, number of mentions and number of shares.
  • Conversion: This is when the goal is to trigger an action from your target audience. Success can be measured by click through rates for links/swipe ups, RSVPs to events, website page views, video view completion rates, completed purchases and new email subscribers.

While we will continue to monitor the landscape and gauge feedback from influencers and partners over the next few months, we feel strongly that this is just another step in our journey with social networks. Remember that there was a world before likes, and there will be one after, and marketing campaigns haven’t yet crumbled. Hiding likes will impact destination marketers, but not necessarily in a negative way if you’re armed with information to build a revised strategy for 2020.

Going forward, we will need to adapt quickly to this new phase as seamlessly as possible to meet clients’ needs, remaining aware that tomorrow, a new shift or innovation may force us to adapt yet again.

What’s your take on this? Shoot us your thoughts @aboutdci!

Written By

Daniella Middleton

Daniella Middleton is a Vice President in the Tourism Practice, leading strategy and directing digital marketing strategies, influencer marketing partnerships, and MICE business marketing and sales.

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