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    Indian Influencers Wait for ‘Real Game to Begin’ As Instagram Gears Up To Hide ‘Like Counts’ On App

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    New Delhi (Sputnik): Facebook-owned photo-messaging app Instagram has expanded its test of hiding “like counts” on posts across the world in a bid to tackle the competitive toxicity among influencers on its platform.

    As soon as Instagram announced the expansion of its latest test feature, users from around the world began criticising the move on Twitter, fearing a nose-dive in profile engagements and the financial gains influencers earn on the basis of the number of likes on a particular post.

    ​However, top social media influencers in India, associated with digital lifestyle brands including iDiva and MensXP are eagerly waiting for Instagram to roll out this feature in the country.

    “I feel like social media validation through likes and views is something that affects everyone seeking validation through this medium. Hopefully, doing away with these markers might help resolve the validation issues a lot of people yearn for online,” said Shibani Bedi, a social media influencer with nearly 578,000 followers on Instagram.

    Historically, brands looking for social media influencers to endorse their products select Instagrammers based on the number of their followers, along with the rate at which their posts attract viewer engagements – including like and comment counts.

    According to market research reports, by next year the global influencer marketing industry is expected to reach a whopping $20 billion revenue mark, of which India is expected to account for between $75 million and $150 million.

    With the largest number of impressionable millennials in the world, India is home to over 69 million of Instagram's one billion users.

    To stay afloat in this hyper-competitive market, Indian influencers have previously been found to have been buying up to 16 million fake likes and followers on Instagram to attract brands as well as profile engagements.

    “The obsession with likes and shares on social media is unhealthy so I guess it's a good step. But, if not likes, it's going to be something else tomorrow that evaluates and quantifies an influencer’s social media presence. I'm not sure how you can escape that format unless the influencer marketing model changes itself,” said Ankush Bahuguna who has over 122,000 followers on Instagram.

     Internationally renowned Indian celebrities who have a wider audience reach, like Priyanka Chopra Jonas and cricket captain Virat Kohli, with over 46 million and 44 million followers respectively, charge around $271,000 and $196,000 respectively for one sponsored post on their accounts.

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    Micro-influencers with between 30,000 and 500,000 followers charge between approximately $250 (Rs. 18,000) and $9,750 (Rs. 700,000), followed by nano-influencers, who have over 5,000 followers and charge a little over $100 approx. (Rs. 8,000) to promote brands on their accounts.

    Studies suggest that in India, bot comments are responsible for over 40 percent of total comments on Instagram.

    “This is where the real game begins! Hiding like counts on Instagram is going to filter real influencers from a sea of fake ones who have inorganically purchased engagements for their profiles. If people are relying on your recommendations on what they spend their hard-earned money, you ought to at least be true and real. Glad that this insane toxicity is coming to a halt,” said Sharmila Sharma, who has over 353,000 followers on Instagram.


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