Vamp’s Karl Mapstone on Instagram’s hidden-likes

Karl Mapstone, Business Director, Vamp discusses the possible impacts on Influencer Marketing as Instagram’s hidden-likes trial gaining momentum.

As Instagram’s hidden-likes trial gains momentum, it’s time to replace engagement tracking with solid ROI metrics, says Vamp’s Karl Mapstone

Instagram is slowly but surely extending its hidden-likes experiment around the world. Last month, Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand joined Canada as the countries trialling the new view, which hides the number of likes a post has to all but the person who posted it. With Instagram giving little or no warning before flicking the switch, marketers and influencers in the United Arab Emirates have been left wondering if they’ll be next.

Predictable headlines questioning if this is “the end of influencer marketing” have surfaced. However, the idea that social creators are nothing without likes hugely underestimates the power of influencer marketing. The impact they can have on consumers’ purchasing decisions is driven by the quality of their inspiring content and the deep connection they have with their followers – not the number of likes they have.

That’s not to say the industry will be unaffected. Influencer marketing platforms that have relied on scraping public data, are right to be concerned. Without advanced insights from Facebook, the data they’d be able to offer their clients would be stunted. It’s why we’ve worked so hard to be one
of the only platforms with this access.

Marketers who have leaned on vanity metrics to back up their methods may also come unstuck, as the industry will be forced to focus on more concrete outcomes to prove itself. Whether hidden likes reaches the UAE or not, the days of justifying an influencer marketing campaign based on the likes it generated: are over. Engagement shouldn’t be considered an impressive result of an influencer campaign; with quality content and a genuine audience, it should come as standard.

For marketers investing in influencer content, here are three superior metrics to focus on:

Sales uplift 
For many, an increase in sales is the holy grail of an influencer campaign, but it can be difficult to track with certainty. Many people predominantly use social media to browse and research products and will make their purchase in-store, sometimes months later. Although advanced features in social platforms, like Instagram’s ‘swipe up’ in Stories and shoppable tags, which were launched in Saudi, the UAE and Lebanon in April, are helping to facilitate tracking.

Sometimes, however, the effects are plain to see. When Huawei engaged influencers to promote their new smartphone in UAE, KSA and Kuwait, the campaign activity contributed to the phone selling out before it had even hit the shelves. A great example of social buzz translating into sales.

Cost per download
This metric puts a price on each download by calculating how many were triggered versus the cost of the campaign as a whole. It goes a step further than cost-per-click by only counting those who finalised the download, indicating a fully engaged consumer.

Social campaigns can prove highly effective in driving downloads, seamlessly linking to websites or the App Store at the moment of inspiration.

Return on ad spend (ROAS)
For marketers unsure whether campaigns are actually making money for their business, this is the metric to track. ROAS measures revenue generated, against the amount you invested in advertising to achieve it. What you put in, versus how much you got back. For example, if you spent $100 on a campaign and it generated $200 in revenue, your ROAS is $2 for every $1 spent.

This helps marketers prove the tangible value of a campaign, beyond simple engagement, and gives a more detailed view than ROI. Advancements in targeting mean marketers should be demanding big results from their campaigns. In our experience, influencer-generated assets can deliver more than $20 for every $1 spent.

The industry’s move away from vanity metrics is an encouraging one. With concern over fake followers, a renewed focus on real results should bolster marketers’ confidence in the channel. It also means that the no-likes update, if rolled out globally, won’t hinder the influencer marketing industry. Likes are no longer an important metric, and if this forces marketers to demand harder returns from their campaigns, forcing the standards higher still, then that can only be a good thing.