Ever since Facebook purchased Instagram for $1 billion back in 2012, the service has changed a lot, and the entire app has changed. A year ago, Instagram started worrying about losing its primary users, teenagers, which meant that it started increasing its marketing budget, and started spending hundreds of millions a year to encourage young people to use the service.
Earlier this month, a few leaked documents revealed that Instagram’s own research found that the platform is harmful. It encourages bullying and other actions that could hurt people both mentally and physically, affecting mainly young people (via PhoneArena). Ever since then, Instagram has been trying its best to reverse some of the media coverage and take the spotlight away from the issue and focus on positive things, without much success.
Starting in 2018, Facebook changed some things around, and it started focusing most of its advertisement spending on teens. A former product engineer named Frances Haugen also testified before Congress, stating that the services that are offered by Facebook “harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy.” Facebook also owns Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Oculus.
Meanwhile, Facebook is fighting and keeps trying to say that the media is taking its internal research out of context. Facebook said that its researchers were told by teenagers by themselves, and they described the services when they were struggling with issues that teenagers face.
Instagram’s marketing budget in 2018 was $390 million, which mainly aimed at reaching more teens. A Facebook spokesman said, “While it’s not true that we focus our entire marketing budget towards teens, we’ve said many times that teens are one of our most important communities because they spot and set early trends. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that they are a part of our marketing strategy.”
It’s clear that young adults and teenagers use the Instagram service the most, and therefore they’re the most important users for the platform to stay alive and grow even further. It’s not unusual for companies to focus on specific age groups, but spending that much on a particular age group seems a little excessive, especially after seeing how the leaked documents described the service.