It has been just over two week since Facebook-owned Instagram removed the“like” feature on the popular photo and video sharing platform, and influencers and advertisers in India are trying to find new ways to collaborate with brands.
Marketing experts said it would bring in more transparency to the influencer ecosystem and enhance content on the platform. However, some have also argued that it may increase the number of fake influencer profiles, an ongoing menace globally.
“In India, anyone can become an influencer now. This change will likely correct that,” said a marketing agency head who did not wish to be quoted by name.
India ranks among the top three with the most number of fake Instagram accounts, according to a joint report by Swedish e-commerce start-up A Good Company and data analytics firm HypeAuditor. The United States tops the list with 49 million such accounts, followed by Brazil with 27 million and India with 16 million.
India ranked second globally with 73 million Instagram usersas of October, according to market research firm Statistia.
“Removal of the ‘like’ feature will create a challenge to understand the real engagement of influencers with their audience on the platform, but it will also lead brands and experts to discover more good-quality content,” said Ashutosh Harbola, co-founder of influencer marketing firm Buzzoka.
Instagram said last week that it had been testing this feature in markets including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Brazil, Ireland, and Italy earlier in July. And that, as part of the global rollout, the company is now testing it in India with a small percentage of users.
“The challenge with this is, Instagram natively does not share influencer content or performance data to any ad network, or any other monetization-related services,” says Praanesh Bhuvaneswar, co-founder of Qoruz, an influencer marketing platform.
Instagram said removal of the like feature was intended to ensure that people feel comfortable expressing themselves, including helping people focus on the photos and videos that they share, not on how many likes they get.
Influencer-marketing has been prominent for a few years now, and brands have earmarked marketing spends into it, making it a lucrative profession.
“To transform into an influencer-affable platform, Instagram will have to move around certain blocks. And, that means that they will have to adapt for the entire supply chain process, including all the value players in the middle, looking at the economy as a whole. That’s going to be a large leap if they choose to pull it off,” Bhuvaneswar said.
The change will mean that brand and influencer collaborations will now be based only on the number of followers.
“There is no way to cross-verify the data now, so it is even plausible for influencers to forge data,” said Paras Tomar, an actor and a social media influencer.Instagram did not respond to ET’s specific queries on the subject till press time on Sunday.
Experts said a number of influencers had steadily increased their presence on short-video platform TikTok to stay relevant.
“The overall influencer market growth rate will not be impacted. Instagram influencers have been eyeing YouTube and TikTok for the monetization and reach that these platforms provide,” said Aditya Gurwara from Gurugram-based TeraReach, an influencer-marketing firm.