More engagement does not mean more brand awareness, product sales, according to Al Rashed
High income users engage less on social media platform Instagram, according to a luxury hospitality influencer and founder of creative agency The Contourage, as they do not have the time or liberty to ‘like’ and comment on photos and videos.
When asked whether Instagram’s trialling the removal of its ‘likes’ feature would turn away advertisers from influencer marketing, Dubai-based Talal Al Rashed said brands should not depend on engagement levels as they do not necessarily create sales.
Speaking to Arabian Business, he said: “I hear some brands say: ‘But you don’t have engagement or likes’. I say, you know what? Go to someone that has likes and engagement, but for me, I would worry if I have so many likes, because it means I am followed by children and people who have time. Usually, people who have time, they don’t have income, and if they don’t have income, they’re not going to come to your hotel or spend in your restaurant. How do you expect a CEO to sit and comment and put likes? Some of them they don’t want even their names to be under a post.
“The clients who don’t understand the game well enough, it’s their loss. Let them go with people with high likes and engagement. They’re paying them a lot, because those people ask for more money simply because they have more likes and engagement, not because they create sales or brand awareness. But they know that the clients have this wrong idea about likes and comments,” Al Rashed said.
He added that Instagram’s removal of its ‘likes’ feature will not have a massive effect on the influencer marketing business, as the number of likes will be hidden from followers, but not users.
“Likes will not be gone, they’ll just be hidden. So the brands will still ask for them, just like they ask for the impressions and reach. The ‘likes’ is the only thing that’s public and now it’ll be private…” he said.
Al Rashed said that while some clients consider him to be “defensive” and “arrogant”, he believes his followers are not interested in how many likes he receives on his photos and videos, but how much information and knowledge he shares with them.
“My followers are not groovy, saying ‘oh, let’s get his attention’ - they don’t want my attention. They want the information and my knowledge,” he said.
On the other hand, social media influencer Rita Dahdah is “not a fan” of removing ‘likes’ on Instagram, claiming that it will lead to a further drop in user engagement.
“I have definitely noticed that engagement has dropped. Now obviously, my engagement has been increasing naturally over the years, because my followers have been increasing, but if I were to compare [now] to 2014, I used to post something and get 400 comments under my photo and that was way before people were buying and selling [on Instagram].
“Although I did have less followers at the time, my engagement was crazier. The rate of increase in followers was also faster in comparison. I think what changed is the algorithm, because they keep making all these horrible changes,” Dahdah said.
The “downfall” of Instagram, she said, began when it changed its chronological order of posts.
“I really don’t see anyone anymore. The people I’m most interested in, I don’t see their posts. I keep seeing the same people over and over and I follow over 1,000 people. I don’t think that’s fair to anyone. At best, I see 50-80 profiles a day. I believe the algorithm change, which is a very flawed system, is what caused this. If they want to fix the engagement, they should just go back to the chronological algorithm. This is what everyone is asking for. I don’t understand why they’re insisting upon keeping it like this. This is what the Instagram community wants to see. They destroyed everything. Because back then, it was fair game for everyone,” she said.
Arabian Business has contacted Instagram for a comment.