With the leadership changes, Facebook has gone to great lengths to make Instagram a major attraction for young audiences, four former employees said. That coincides with the perception that Facebook itself, already grappling with data privacy and other scandals, will never be the destination for teenagers, the people said.
Instagram started focusing on the “teenage time” data point, three former employees said. The aim is to increase the amount of time teens spend using the app with features including Instagram Live, a broadcast tool, and Instagram TV, where people upload videos up to an hour long.
Instagram also increased its global marketing budget. In 2018, it allocated $67.2 million for marketing. In 2019, that rose to $127.3 million as planned, then to $186.3 million last year and $390 million this year, according to internal documents. Most budgets are designated to appeal to teenagers, the documents show. Mosseri approved the budget, two employees said.
The money is slated for marketing categories like “establishing Instagram as a favorite place for teenagers to express themselves” and cultural programs for events like the Super Bowl, according to the documents. .
Many of the resulting ads are digital, featuring some of the platform’s top influencers, such as Donté Colley, a Canadian dancer and creator. Marketing, when implemented, also targets teen parents and those up to age 34.
Instagram’s rage, though, is growing. A 2019 marketing memo notes that while teens are still flocking to it, they’re not interested in Facebook or the Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp. The memo says the company should focus on getting teenagers to use the photo-sharing site, adding that “we didn’t see the interest of many brands.”
When the coronavirus pandemic hit last year, forcing people to stay home to stay safe, “teenage time” increased to an average of three to four hours a day in the United States, compared with one to two hours earlier, two former employees said. Adults spend 30 to 45 minutes a day on the site.