April 11, 2017

The Origin, Anatomy and Implications of the “Finsta”

allef-vinicius-196916As a millennial on the brink of Gen Z territory, I’m a little ashamed that I didn’t know about the whole “finsta” phenomenon sooner. I mean seriously, there was a New York Times article written about it back in 2015… To save you from a similar state of ignorance, I’m dedicating today’s blog to breaking down what a finsta is, how the trend began, what its characteristic are, and what ramifications it may entail for marketers.

What is a finsta, by definition?

A “finsta” is a hybrid of the words “fake” and “Instagram,” and according to Urban Dictionary, a place where teenagers and twenty-something’s post pictures “without persecution from society as a whole.” This, of course, is juxtaposed to one’s real Instagram account, or as I’ll refer to it from here on out, a “rinsta.”

Where did it come from?

According to the never-inaccurate Internet, the finsta is relatively old news. Its origins, like most progressions on social media, can be traced back to when parents, grandparents and others that err on the side of slow adoption, began infiltrating the platform. Consequently, Instagram— a channel once brimming with allure, free from trial and consequences— felt inhibited, forcing Gen Z to evolve. Another (not necessarily mutually exclusive) theory is that, weary of trying to live up to the annoyingly flawless, FOMO-inducing lives they’ve created on social, some users resorted to a secondary, unfiltered private account to post photos that stray from their well-kept rinsta brand. Either way, the finsta was born.

Moving right along…

What makes a finsta, a finsta?

Well, first let me explain what it isn’t.

A finsta is not a place where one:

  • Meticulously filters their photo and wordsmiths the perfect pithy caption.
  • Makes conscious decisions about how often they post out of fear of seeming overzealous or spammy.
  • Calculates their follower to following ratio or deletes an image that falls below a certain “like” threshold.
  • Feels the need to keep things SFW.
  • Cares, generally.

In summary, a finsta is the more relaxed, raw, and real counterpart to someone’s rinsta. A venue, instead, for unflattering pictures, unedited captions, uncensored opinions, and sometimes-successful attempts at memes. Kind of refreshing, right? Especially in a world in which, as The New York Times so eloquently phrased it, Instagram has become “a never-ending Junior Varsity ‘Vanity Fair shoot.”

In summary, to juxtapose what has slowly evolved into the visual resume of the social sphere, the finsta countermovement allows ‘grammers to be more flawed and real. This is not only because finsta accounts are usually private and only viewable to a select group of friends, but also because they take away the pressure a person may feel to maintain a pristine feed.

So what implications does this have in the world of marketing?

Good question. In some ways the rise in finsta accounts may prove challenging for marketers in terms of audience identification and follower analysis. Finsta communities could, however, potentially provide opportunities for brands to engage in more genuine conversations with niche, young, and uninhibited consumers. To me, the most compelling takeaway from a marketing (and human) perspective is that finstas reinforce the idea that younger generations are partial to more honest, transparent stories rather than perfectly staged ones.