Engagement in a world without likes

There’s been a growing sense of trepidation surrounding the world of influencers. Buzzword of 2019, “influencer” seems to be guaranteed a headline regardless of content and it’s been dissected again and again. How much work does it actually take? How “authentic” are their all-too-perfect lives? As is the case with too many a success, we’ve been waiting in the wings for every flaw that’s exposed in the hope we can bring influencers and their worlds back down to earth. It’s inevitable, they say. For every rise, there is a fall. The age of the influencer will be short-lived.

The Australia-wide trial that has disabled the visibility of Instagram likes is a huge test for those who want to prove that it’s an industry with staying power. The change seems to be sorting us into two camps: those who think its the end of an influencer-driven world and those who think it will make no difference. Just 24 hours into the trial, we’re already looking at how difficult it will be to start out in influencer marketing, calling the move “juvenile” and discussing the impact it might have on our mental health.

For followers and brands alike, likes are what set profiles on Instagram apart and dictate who we choose to engage with. Suddenly, from the outside, we can no longer see who is doing it the best. From a marketing perspective, it’s potentially devastating and it’s got us reassessing how best to look at engagement in a world without likes.

This is something Incent has been working on for a long time and it was the basis of the development of our Ingage tech, which we began working on with Gfinity Esports AU in November 2018. What we’ve created is something that’s both simple and revolutionary: a platform-agnostic tool that allows anyone to reward any digitally trackable item. It’s not constrained to likes or comments, which means it’s not dependent on the whims of companies like Instagram (however well-intentioned their efforts may be). We think that the attention economy has become completely saturated and we need to move from pay-to-view to “paid-to-view”, in the eloquent words of our CEO.

Biased though we may be, a lot of research has shown us that there isn’t anything out there that offers an alternative engagement model to the same degree as Incent. It’s stand-alone.

Social media changed the way we interacted and as we moved online, the collateral damage was our actions becoming a commodity, in every sense of the word. As viewers, we can determine the success or failure of a brand or company simply by where we feast our eyes and the actions we take once we’ve made the choice to look (or not). Instagrams and their disabled likes may or may not have an impact on influencers – only time will tell. The most significant ramification of the trial is more subtle than the loss of sponsorship or a change to the marketing landscape. Hiding likes and the collective uproar in response has shown us how vulnerable we are to the platforms that enable our engagement. It’s exposed a fickle truth that undermines our beloved influencers: they don’t have any more power than those who like their posts. It’s Instagram that holds all the cards.

Tabby wilson

Author: Tabby Wilson