Doing it for the ‘gram

26 September 2018 | Pic PR

Facebook. Meh. That’s what an increasing number of the social media savvy are concluding.

Influential pollster the Pew Research Center reported this year that just 51% of US teens say they use Facebook, compared to 71% back in 2015.

A 20% drop in its key users – in an industry that gorges on clicks, shares, retweets and, most importantly, ad revenue – is staggering.

Remember when Facebook fever gripped cyberspace? The mad dash to set up an account, the quest for many friends as possible, the light-hearted poking of 2009.

“Sorry Bebo…it’s not me, it’s you. Please don’t contact me again.”

Now Facebook is beleaguered on two fronts. 

The cosmetic: it’s bloated, boring and blue.

And the structural: Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger unfriended the company on Monday night.

They said they wanted to pursue ‘creative projects’ after six years at Facebook.

But the New York Times and Bloomberg soon reported this was code for increased tension between the pair and Zuckerberg.

A PR wobble right there.

Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1bn, and now the picture sharing app is its unopposed revenue earner.  

With Systrom and Krieger out, there are fears that Facebook could drain the social positivity out of Instagram.

Facebook used to occupy this space until its newsfeed became swamped with oddball posts, adverts and fake news. It is no longer personal, it is transactional.

Instagram is visual escapism and, as the old cliché goes, a picture paints a thousand words. You just dive right in.

Before visiting Facebook, you just need to pull on your waders first.

Whether this departure turns into a larger PR problem depends on what Facebook does next.

Already they have tripped over their own feet. Zuckerberg said Systrom and Krieger were “extraordinary product managers” in his statement about their resignation. Ouch.

Facebook left Instagram alone for years and the arrangement worked wonders.

But the rumours are Facebook has become increasingly meddlesome and wants Instagram closer to the mothership.

If this is the case, expect more contentious changes to the platform and the inevitable PR headaches.

It’s a shame really because no doubt they feel they’re doing it for the ‘gram.