Yeah, I’m not totally sold on this.
Today, Instagram has announced the launch of its latest global branding campaign, called ‘Yours to Make’, which aims to showcase the benefits of community connection in the app, and finding your people through shared interests and trends.
It’s certainly something.
As explained by 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.”
Oh, right. No, I get it now.
The abstract-style campaign takes a more arthouse view of Instagram, and the inner-workings of the app. And for me, it felt like it was going to take a turn at any moment - like a preview for a drama film that shows the dizzying highs, then frightening lows of a person’s life.
Which would probably be more realistic. For all its community benefits, Instagram has also been identified as a key source of angst, and psychological impacts, for younger users in particular.
As part of its recent Facebook Files expose, The Wall Street Journal reported 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 findings were based on Facebook-commissioned or conducted studies over the past three years, with another identifying that among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the issue to Instagram.
So while it can connect people to different communities, there is a dark side to the app. Which kind of, unintentionally, feels present in this promo clip - like everything’s a bit dark and shady in the background, like you never know who’s really watching on from the shadows.
Which makes it a strange promo, for me anyway - while it also highlights a constant challenge that Facebook comes up against as it tries to keep up with the latest trends and happenings among the youth.
Here’s why TikTok is gaining traction, and why Snapchat has been able to establish its place in the broader social media sphere, despite Facebook’s attempts to crush both - each app has far more cultural nous and connection to their user communities than Facebook has, in any capacity, and any form, across its family of platforms.
Sure, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp all have far more users, but they have limited cred, there’s nothing cool about Facebook, and while Instagram did have that cool factor at some stage, Facebook has since sucked it out, as it’s worked to bring it more into line with its broader strategy, stripping away any individuality or originality that the platform once held.
Part of this, too, can be attributed to these apps being so big. Eventually, once your aunts and uncles and grandparents are on an app, it’s probably going to lose some of its appeal for younger audiences, as it’s no longer exclusive, it’s no longer where just your demographic connects, which impacts content trends, engagement, etc.
That makes sense, and would be a factor in why Snapchat, for example, has been able to maintain its credibility. Yet even so, Facebook has repeatedly shown that, despite its best, most desperate efforts to keep up, and remain at the cool table in the social media space, it just doesn’t have it.
Snapchat’s AR Lenses are the ones leading the way, always, despite Facebook having far more technical capacity to produce better, more engaging content in this respect. TikTok leads the way in viral trends, with Instagram latching onto its coat-tails wherever it can, flailing well behind. Even Twitter sparks more cultural engagement, with the witticism of the best tweets sparking their own moments and trends.
For all its business nous and ambition, Facebook doesn’t have that cultural element. There are varying reasons you could point to for this, but it’s just never there, never leading the charge. Even when it tries to create new hype through ad campaigns like this.
So, you could say I’m not a fan, and I don’t really understand the value of this specific push. But Instagram says that it’s “a celebration of the good that can come from connecting with communities and interests on Instagram”.
Will that get more people more engaged, and more people downloading the app? I don’t know. Seems like utility is more Facebook’s bag.
Instagram’s ‘Yours to Make’ campaign goes live in the US and UK from today, and will launch in additional regions later this year.