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Arabic Instagram content – best length and type of content.

July 1, 2021

Arabic Instagram content is different to the world at large. With the obvious difference, language, aside – what are the main drivers of engagement? What can we learn from the data that can help shape our social strategies?

We put our Sila tool to the test to better understand what content drives the most engagement and what this can mean for brands looking to engage more. With an audience-first mindset, these observations should deliver insight to your campaigns.

Arabic Instagram content – generally.

Instagram is a fascinating platform to analyse because of three main things:

  • Its daily active users are more diverse demographically than other platforms, at this moment, in the Arabic-speaking world;
  • Arabic-speaking audiences widely use Instagram in differing ways depending on affinities and sub-platform (e.g. Reels v IGTV);
  • We can learn about paid media strategies by observing how content creators make and distribute their content.

So let’s dive straight into the key metrics that make the difference – engagement. As we’ve found before, Instagram can provide a fertile ground for questions.

What Instagram format works best?

Well, that’s almost literally a million-dollar question. Using Sila, we decided to look into our data and see what drives baseline engagement regarding the main Instagram products inside their platform. Stories are not included in this analysis as no comparable data is available that allows comparison efficiently. As a baseline, we decided to look at engagement via ‘likes’ and ‘comments’.

Here at D/A, our focus on audience-first metrics means that attention should be our key deciding metric on any platform.

So, let’s take a look at the baseline of attention, engagement:

Arabic Instagram content formats by engagement

We see a large divergence between passive engagement (liking) and active engagement (comments). Although we would expect lower active engagement for most formats (following the famous 90/9/1 rule), what’s interesting is the increase in passive engagement for the shorter-form Reels v. the engagement on other platforms. For clarity, ‘video’ in the above chart is a standard newsfeed video.

Followers of D/A’s thinking on Instagram Reels will know that this is a significant result as a proportion of actual people reached.

What of active engagement (aka comments)? We sliced that data as well:

Engagement by Product - Arabic Instagram content

Active engagement, measured in average comments per post (over a pool of 2800 content creators on IG), sees a slightly different story. Here we see video formats on the newsfeed as popular for engagement as Reels, with IGTV and carousel posts slightly, but not much on average, lower. Photos, like passive engagement, still lag.

It should be noted, here, though, that photo posts as a total proportion are declining.

Attention as time

Understanding how people use Instagram in the real world is beneficial to understand trends. When compared to ad performance data, including watch-time, we get a better picture of the consumer. We decided to look at IGTV, Instagram’s YouTube competitor, to see what drives interactions (in this case, comments AND likes).

Engagement v. Length of video of IGTV

In the above chart, we’re looking at Arabic content on Instagram that has been published to IGTV. The ranking factor is the duration of the video in seconds. The yellow line represents the total posts at that length on IGTV. As we see, the most popular formats at 1-2min and 2-5min, while the most engagement comes from 2-5min. But what we see to the right is perhaps the fascinating insight on attention. As a proportion of total posts, 5-10min, and 10min plus, get far more engagement than shorter videos.

The more attention is, the longer the video – has IGTV succeeded in its purpose – to usurp YouTube’s dominance?

We’ve had a look at all the video products, and there are some surprising results. If you’d like the full breakdown of the time v. channel, please use the form below, and we’ll be in touch with the results in a PDF.

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