A Game Changer for Instagram?

This week (4 November 2015), one of the world’s most influential ‘celebrity’ Instagrammers, Essena O’Neill quit the platform in a bid to ‘get real’ with her life.

Having already shut down her YouTube and Snapchat channels (which had 274,000 and 60,000 followers respectively), it was the closure of Instagram that sparked the biggest sense of loss and confusion from her 570,000+ fans.

And yet, despite having over 2,000 posts on the social channel, the model decided to close the account on Monday claiming social media promoted a ‘dishonest and contrived’ sense of beauty.

Believing she was living a lie, Essena said her images showcased the false reality of her model life. Each needed between 50 and 100 takes to get one perfect shot, not to mention the use of countless editing apps. Essena also admitted taking payments to, in her words, “delude” her followers into liking certain products.

One by one, her Instagram captions were changed to reflect the ‘truth’ behind the snapshots in a bid to “expose the harsh and often humorous reality behind the instafamous culture” and make them “ready for social acceptance”.

And yet, despite understanding Essena’s desire to live a normal life away from the judgement, harassment and constant pressure that being one of the worlds top Instagrammers must bring, various questions could be asked about the motives behind the move, as well as the domino effect this could bring to the Insta-celeb world.

You see, if you look closely at Essena’s revised posts, there’s one section which particularly stands out, the mention of her website LetsBeGameChangers.com.

A look closer at the website sees Essena (a real life, down to earth girl, not the airbrushed, modelled to perfection version we are used to) talking about her life, beliefs and hopes for the future. There’s also a Products page, coming soon, to showcase products Essena loves.

And she’s not the only one. Fitness star @kayla_itsine has also echoed the sentiment on her own Instagram page revealing the stresses and strains the channel brings (oh and asking fans to check out her new website too).

So is Essena’s move OFF social media just a marketing ploy to attract followers to her new website and expand her business venture?

Only time will tell.

LetsBeGameChangers.com doesn’t appear to have any promotional content as of yet but with millions of hits and coverage on the Mail Online, Buzzfeed and Elle.com, the Products page is sure to launch soon.

And should we be worried from a media and PR perspective about this shift back from social to more traditional online media channels – the humble website?

Well no, not yet. Instagram remains one of the world’s most popular online platforms with 400 million monthly users worldwide, all using the site to express their own stories, characters and ideas, so it’s unlikely this will be its downfall.

But the move from one of the world’s most famous users to take herself off the channel in such a public way might just, in Essena’s own words, be a game changer.

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