Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri sent shock waves throughout the social media world recently when he announced that the ubiquitous platform would start hiding “likes’ for US audiences. He claims the change is intended to take pressure off content creators in the hopes of bolstering creativity. While some travel influencers are taking the news in stride, others are much more concerned that such a move will diminish their status throughout the hospitality industry. A possible ripple down effect could ultimately result in a reduced revenue stream for scores of Instagram travel influencers, many of whom currently rely on the number of “likes” when partnering with a particular brand. Here are opinions from across the travel spectrum concerning what the announcement will ultimately mean for the industry.
Travel Influencers Are Adjusting To New Instagram Policy
I don't think it will have many implications for influencer marketing. I've spoken with full-time creators in Canada and Australia (where the removal of likes rolled out last year) and everyone seems to be in agreement: not much has really changed. At this point, brands that are influencer-marketing-savvy know better than to use "likes" as a gauge for a creator's true influence. Likes are a vanity metric, they often have little to do with the influencer's ability to drive sales, create awareness or establish trust among their community. Metrics such as saves, shares, comments, swipe ups, views and reach are a far better way to measure value. The only thing that might change is how brands perform their due diligence when casting for campaigns. I anticipate a higher influx of inbound requests from agencies and brands asking to see backend metrics before pursuing a partnership.
Ocean House Management Collection, Laurie Hobbs, Group Director of Public Relations & Marketing
Our successful work with influencers reflects our goals including brand building, driving bookings and/or overall awareness, depending on the property, restaurant or activation we are promoting. When choosing influencers with whom to partner, we look at several strategic factors, and the number of "likes" is only one small portion of our decision-making process. The first area we evaluate is the influencer’s brand look and feel, and do their followers reflect the demographics of our guests and customers. The second factor is followers’ comments on posts, indicating action taken as a result of the posts. For example, a comment about reserving a guest room or making a reservation has more weight than a simple "like" in response to a post. The third type of partners we seek is influencers with highly engaged footprints in specific regional areas that parallel our feeder markets. And finally, we enjoy working with influencers whose content is often re-posted by larger travel accounts including other media. We've found great success in using these tools to gauge overall partnership success.
Tahiti Tourisme, Noel Morrison, Director of Communications
Likes are valuable as a quick reference for a particular influencer's engagement rate. If you see someone with 500k followers but their average photo only gets 1,000 likes, that can tell you a lot about how engaged their audience is. We have worked with micro-influencers with modest followings whose posts get the same average number of likes as people who have three times the audience. That is someone whose audience is very engaged. With the roll out of Reels and the emphasis on more video content, seeing the number of video views is more important than a “like” too, since so many people view content without necessarily “liking” it. Whether likes are shown or not won’t fundamentally change how we select influencer partners as we already select influencer partners similarly to how we prioritize working with traditional media outlets. Basically, we consider how likely their audience is to travel to our destination and/or how broad of a reach our content can have on their platform, as well as what the quality of that content is in featuring the destination. Our first priority will be on the quality of their content, how well it aligns with our brand or niche areas, and whether their audience is likely to be a good target to travel to our destination. We will prioritize by the number of followers as well, of course. We tend to prioritize creators whose content makes the destination the feature, rather than fashion or their own brand. We look to see how many of their comments come from real users as opposed to comment pods, and see whether their content is regularly shared by travel brands with larger followings.
Lisa Glover, Director of Public Relations, Next PR
As both a publicist, and a consumer, I have seen the value of what influencer marketing can do for brands, especially in the travel space. The eventual full roll-out of the disappearing likes will certainly create a challenge for brands who are just starting out with influencer marketing and don’t have existing relationships. In the beginning, brands may not know which content creators are right for them, or what the balance of it should be. While a macro influencer will certainly drive brand awareness and exposure, I’ve often seen it’s the micro and even nano influencers that drive conversions. I’ve always been in the mindset that a brand who works with a select group of influencers repeatedly, will see the magic of what they can bring to your brand. Brands should select influencers where there is opportunity to build an ambassadorship program. As a consumer, if I see an influencer post just one time about a resort, it probably is what led me to follow that resort’s Instagram page and learn about it (brand awareness), but it’s the influencer who posts and shares insider knowledge about that resort periodically throughout the year that will likely spark my decision to book a stay. If I am following that influencer and I trust them, it helps to see when they are sprinkling in that resort’s content throughout the year because it reinforces in my mind that this is the place I want to be.
Alex Millard, Outdoorsy Social Media & Influencer Manager
If Instagram were to hide likes, that wouldn’t change our influencer strategy. The quality of the content and storytelling will always be the most important part of selecting our influencer partners because those are the pieces that help bring RVing and the outdoors to life for our community. The KPIs that matter most – impressions, comments and clickthrough – would not change for our team.
Roger Sands | March 21
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