There's been a ton of discussion, debate, and speculation behind Instagram taking away "likes." A lot of people like to think this will absolutely change the way influencers work with brands because without the likes being visible, it makes it harder for the brand to really see how much "influence" and engagement one particular account has.
Given it's so easy for people to buy their followers, it's going to be difficult to tell which statistics are authentic. It's also pretty simple for someone to forge their back-end statistics since it's just a simple screenshot that they can edit in photoshop (and we all know how good influencers are at photoshop).
So...with the likes being hidden, why do engagement rates still matter and which ones should we care about?
There's a lot more that goes into "engagement" than just likes. You can take into account followers, which does get tricky because of people buying followers but you can also pay attention to reach and impressions. Although this isn't a "direct" engagement rate, it still shows brands you have a far reach, which ultimately means more eyes on their products.
Similarly to reach, impressions is a great metric to track because that's how many eyes have seen your content. If one person, viewed your post three times, your impressions would be three. This is something for brands to take into account because if an influencer is promoting a product and someone keeps going back to that post multiple times to look at it, that could mean they are extremely interested in purchasing.
To make it easy for the influencer and the brands, you should consider using tools such as Share My Insights. This is an extremely easy reporting tool that integrates directly to your social platforms making it easy for brands to obtain the metrics through a simple sharing link and makes it difficult for the influencer to forge the statistics. A metric included in this reporting tool is "top posts" which does show the "likes" on those posts, therefore, the brands can still easily see how many people are engaging with their content.
For brands specifically, this tool cuts out the B.S. and makes it extremely easy to digest and track. There's also a community for the brands to search other accounts with high engagement rates, giving them another opportunity to search for influencers that best represent their brand.
Even though Instagram has hidden "likes", it's still important to focus on engagement rates. There will be other rates that brands can help determine how much "influence" an influencer has, and with tools like Share My Insights, it makes it extremely easy and simple to understand the performance of an influencer.
Here are some quick tips to help you increase your engagement rates:
Create quality content
Ask your audience questions in the captions
Tell a story in your captions
Engage with your audience - both reactive and proactive
Use hashtags that your ideal audience might be using
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE and provide content they would enjoy