They can only get you hooked young,
That’s the goal with Big Tech companies like Facebook, who hope to get teenagers obsessed with an app like Instagram and slowly move them over to a much bigger platform like Facebook someday, according to an internal doc and a recent profile of Instagram users.
Using the word “pipeline” in an internal doc reveals what we all know already about social media companies. They are bating teens with a friendly app, one that doesn’t focus as much on links and ads, in hopes that they will keep looking for other platforms as they get older.
Do you feel familiar?
The worry, according to the report, is that Instagram isn’t quite the gateway drug for social media as it once was. The report makes it clear: “In a survey this year from the financial services firm Piper Sandler, 35 percent of teenagers said Snapchat was their favorite social media platform, with 30 percent saying TikTok. Instagram was third with 22 percent.”
Instagram has approximately 1.3 billion users. None of us really know or understand what lures in the teen population, since even Gen-Z don’t seem to know. We do know that every young generation is drawn to what is new and shiny (although, guess what — so are middle-aged and older people).
Facebook uses the term “like” too often. pipeline? Yes, we should.
The reason it’s a bit alarming is that it reveals how much they view these apps as part of a strategic marketing campaign to host more ads, not so much as useful tools to help us communicate and discover new things.
If we were talking highly productive apps that enrich our lives and make it feel more connected, like Facebook often claims, then the internal documents would not discuss anything that sounds suspiciously similar to a sales funnel.
It sounds more like a product. This would improve the user experience and make it easier to find information. The same word you would expect a car dealership use is pipeline. This might be the conversation:
The boss to his sales employee: “So where is that customer in the pipeline?”
Salesperson: “They seem to be kicking the tires.”
Boss: “Let’s see if we can entice them a little more with a warranty or other perk, okay?”
It all seems like rats in a maze. But the cheese is all about likings, shares and reactions. The maze runs on your smartphone.
Since the last few decades, and especially once, the movie The Social DilemmaExperts say that Instagram and Facebook have been compared to slot machines since their debut on Netflix. To see new rewards, you can pull down on the Instagram screen. To see your likes, you check Facebook. Now, knowing there is a pipeline involved, it seems like social media firms have decided that Instagram is the initial hook — the pull-tabs at the bar, perhaps. Teens eventually “graduate” to the bigger slot machines of Facebook and Twitter.
At least, that’s the hope they have. Retain them young.
Facebook considers you a user if you are a parent to teens or if you happen to be one. The issue is that the word “user” has a dramatically different connotation when it comes to using their apps.