Facebook knew that an ad aimed at a 13-year-old was likely to capture younger children who wanted to emulate their older siblings and friends, one person said. Officials told employees that Facebook is doing everything it can to prevent underage users from joining Instagram, but that can’t be helped if they sign up anyway.
In September 2018, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the founders of Instagram, left Facebook after clashing with Mr. Zuckerberg. Mr. Mosseri, a longtime Facebook executive, has been appointed to head Instagram.
With the leadership changes, Facebook has gone all out to make Instagram a main attraction for young audiences, four former employees said. It coincided with the realization that Facebook itself, which struggled with data privacy and other scandals, would never be a destination for teens, people said.
Instagram has started to focus on the “teen time” data point, three former employees said. The goal was to increase the time teens spend on the app with features like Instagram Live, a streaming tool, and Instagram TV, where people upload videos that are one hour long.
Instagram has also increased its overall marketing budget. In 2018, it allocated $ 67.2 million for marketing. In 2019, that rose to $ 127.3 million planned, then to $ 186.3 million last year and $ 390 million this year, according to internal documents. Most of the budgets were intended to woo teens, according to the documents. Mr Mosseri approved the budgets, two employees said.
The money was intended for marketing categories such as “establishing Instagram as the go-to place for teens to express themselves” and cultural programs for events like the Super Bowl, according to the documents.
Most of the resulting ads were digital, featuring some of the platform’s top influencers, such as Donté Colley, a Canadian dancer and designer. Marketing, once implemented, also targeted parents of teenagers and people up to 34 years of age.