Instagram has recently announced the launch of its latest global branding campaign, dubbed "Yours to Make," which intends to highlight the benefits of using the platform to connect with others who have same interests and trends.
Such campaign is definitely noteworthy.
According to Instagram:
“Yours to Make showcases how you can explore who you are with Instagram. For young people, identity isn’t defined, it’s something that’s constantly explored. Whether that means connecting more deeply with the people that matter to you, discovering and experimenting with new interests, or sharing your perspective, however work in progress it may be.”
The abstract-style campaign depicts Instagram and its inner workings in a more arthouse light. It felt like it might turn at any time, like a trailer for a drama film depicting the dizzying highs and terrifying lows of a person's life.
Which is more likely to be the case. Instagram has been highlighted as a major cause of anxiety and psychological effects, particularly among younger users, despite its many community advantages.
The Wall Street Journal stated in its latest Facebook Files exposé that:
“32% of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse […] Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression. This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.”
These conclusions were based on research commissioned or performed by Facebook over the last three years, with one showing that among adolescents who expressed suicide thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users attributed it to Instagram.
While the app may link people to various groups, it also has a negative side. Which, unintentionally, feels present in this marketing trailer - as if everything is a little dark and sinister in the background, as if you never know who's actually looking over your shoulder.
Which makes it a weird promotion - at least to me - while also highlighting a continual struggle that Facebook has in keeping up with the newest trends and occurrences among the youth.
Here's why TikTok is rising in popularity, and Snapchat has been successful in establishing itself in the broader social media sphere, even with Facebook's best efforts to thwart both: each app has much more cultural nous and connection to its user communities than Facebook, in any capacity and form, throughout its family of platforms.
Granted, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp all have far more users, but they have limited credibility; there's really nothing interesting about Facebook, and although Instagram did have that cool element at one point, Facebook has since drained it out as it tried to make it more in line with its wider plan, robbing the platform of whatever personality or originality it previously had.
Part of this might be due to the fact that these applications are so widespread. When your aunts and uncles and grandparents join an app, it loses part of its attraction for younger audiences because it is no longer exclusive; it is no longer a place where only your demographic interacts, which has an influence on content trends, engagement, and so on.
That seems logical, and it might be one of the reasons Snapchat, for example, has maintained its credibility. Despite its best, most frantic efforts to stay up and remain at the cool table in the social media arena, Facebook has repeatedly demonstrated that it simply does not have it.
Even with Facebook's considerably greater technological capacity to generate richer, more interesting content in this area, Snapchat's AR Lenses are constantly leading the way. In terms of viral trends, TikTok is on top, with Instagram clinging to its tail everywhere it can and flailing far behind. Even Twitter encourages cultural participation, with the witticism of the finest tweets creating their own moments and trends.
Facebook, for all of its economic acumen and ambition, lacks that cultural component. There are a variety of reasons for this, but it is never there, never leading the way. Even when it uses marketing campaigns like these to generate new buzz.
I'm not sure what the goal of this specific initiative is, but Instagram defines it as "a celebration of the good that can come from connecting with communities and interests on Instagram."
Will this result in more people becoming interested in the app and installing it? It seems unlikely. It appears that usefulness is more Facebook's strong suit.