Finstagram or “Finsta” is a fake Instagram account commonly created by teens for posting sillier, less polished, and ironically more real content for their closest friends to see. Research suggests that forty percent of teens feel pressure to post content that makes them look good to others. Teens have flocked to create Finstas, where they have a safe space to candidly overshare and feel less pressure to be perfect. While this concept isn’t new, we’re curious about what the popular adoption of Finstas could mean for marketers. There are 800 million monthly active users on Instagram and 90% of all users are younger than 35. A Finstagram could be a white space opportunity that brands have overlooked for potential. Below is a short list of five considerations marketers should be making when it comes to Finsta:
1. Should brands have a Finstagram account?
Super fans of a brand would love the opportunity to see their “real” or unfiltered moments. Maybe it is rough behind the scenes footage of a popular TV show or a new packaging concept for a CPG brand. It can even be an account you overshare on and know with confidence that the content will be welcomed. You’re sharing among the brand’s “true friends” to gain traction and media attention through word of mouth.
More and more consumers are seeking brands who tell authentic stories. A Finsta could be a fun way to connect with super consumers on a more human level. However, Finsta might not be right for every brand, you need to know the demographics of your consumer and whether your brand is prepared to be more “real” with that audience. Finsta audiences are a skeptical bunch and are wary of brands looking to jump in teen culture. Consider the goal of creating a Finsta, does it align with what you are trying to achieve as a brand or ladder back to business objectives?
2. What does this mean for gathering consumer insights on Instagram?
It is important to understand that the consumer data visible to marketers might only tell half the story. A smart marketer is aware that what consumers are sharing publicly might be very different than what they share on their private Finstagrams. This is especially important when conducting research on a teen audience, which is more likely to have a Finstagram. To account for this audience when setting up the research methodology, you might want to ask specific and pointed questions about the different Instagram accounts they’re operating. You will want to ask questions that uncover their intended audiences and the motivations behind having multiple accounts. It would be interesting to understand their mindset when they are logged into one account over another, are they more open to brands when they are in the more curated version of themselves?
Overall, it will be critical to make sure you probe and set up the questions in a way that gets at the most honest answers, which might mean doing inperson interviews or ethnographies with younger audiences. In our experience, we have found great success when talking one-on-one with teens in their own homes where they feel more comfortable.
3. Are there opportunities to target people when they are in their Finstagram accounts?
When people are on their Finstagram accounts, you need to think about their mindsets. For them, it’s a private space among friends and could be more closed off and less willing to interact with brands. Currently, there is no way to know if the user you’re reaching is in a Finstagram account or their public facing account. However, there can be a few clues that can help you identify a Finstagram account, things like following less brands or having few followers overall.
4. What audiences might be fueling this trend?
Currently, the audience predominantly fueling this trend are teens and 20-somethings, but like many teen platform trends, Finstagrams could become a more mainstream occurrence. It’s not just teens that grow tired of having to overthink what they share. Finstagrams could also work well for specific life stages like parenthood or marraige. It’s not hard to imagine parents or a brdide-to-be using a Finsta to overshare about their kids or nuptial planning to a small group of relatives who would love to see every moment. There are even mom influencers in this space that emmulate Finstagram behavior, like RealMomsWearGrey, which is devoted to showing the “realness” of parenthood. There also could be an audience for specific interest based groups that want to unapologetically share their passions, like foodies, fitness freaks, or tech nerds. Finstagram presents a creative solution for anyone looking to share in a judgmentfree zone.
5. What does this trend say about culture in general?
The Finstagram trend is reflective of a consumer desire to break away from the perfected ‘brand’ of a standard Instagram account and highlights a trend toward realism in culture. Consumers are making space in their lives for their more authentic self. This is reflected in the surge of new brands trying to show a more realistic image of the world. Some examples of these brands are the body positive athleisure brand Girlfriend Collective and lingerie brand Aerie. There are other brands that have created their product all around the “realness” of life and making subjects less taboo, like the period underware, Thinx.
Just as with Hashtag Holidays or the latest internet meme (looking at you Yanny and Laurel), jumping on the latest social media trend does not make sense for every brand. While Finstagram presents an interesting opportunity to engage more authentically with consumers, marketers and brands should evaluate the opportunity strategically, make sure it aligns with business objectives and feels true to brand values.