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People are leaving Instagram and here is why

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Influencer Michelle Rothenburger crossing a road made with Instagram props
Going down: Instagram had a 44% decrease in the average engagement rate for in-feed posts

On June 9th, fashion blogger Michelle Rothenburger posted on Instagram a suggestion for a wedding guest outfit she proudly outsourced from thrift shops for 32 Euros – including a Ted Baker floral straw envelope clutch, and a pair of vintage hot-air balloon earrings and necklace for which she paid 6 Euros each.

Then, Rothenburger vanished from the Meta-owned platform.

For the rest of the month, the Switzerland-based creator who used to post three times a week on Instagram for her 20k+ followers did not upload any content. And no one would see what Michelle was wearing or finding in second-hand stores for the whole month of July, either.

The influencer was not sick, nor had she lost her password to access her Instagram account created four years ago.

Like thousands of users across the globe, Michelle Rothenburger took a break from Instagram after the content she regularly posted on the platform started to stall, making her doubt how much time she was dedicating to a social media outlet that was no longer bringing her feasible engagement.

“I used to spend between 4 and 6 hours creating each post. Now I try to spend no more than 30 minutes. My reach has dropped by around 75% in the last few months and it just feels like a monumental waste of time” – says Rothenburger, who moved from North America to Switzerland in 2018.

Blogger Michelle Rothenburger

Taking a break: blogger Michelle Rothenburger didn’t post on Instagram for several weeks

Unbeknown of the break taken by the fashion influencer in Switzerland, Trish Martin, a digital marketing specialist based in Australia, was conducting her own social media experiment in June. She decided to stop posting any content on Instagram for 30 days and document the journey using rival network TikTok.

“I am leaving Instagram…for all of June!” – Martin announced on the last day of May. “I am doing a massive marketing experiment. Instagram is where my people are and it’s a big part of how I generate revenue. So, to completely ditch it for a whole month? Well… it’s not comfortable. But moving outside of our comfort zone is where we grow”, the content creator explained before signing off for the next four weeks.

During June, Trish would make daily updates about her life without Instagram and share them via TikTok and her email list. A month later, to her surprise, her Instagram account gained more followers from not posting anything than it did when she was uploading content daily.

“Instagram is going to play a very different role in my world from here on out that is for sure, and that’s exciting! Change is important in marketing; you’ve got to move and adjust with it. And if you focus on seeing change as an exciting thing instead of scary, imagine the opportunities that could come.”, celebrates Trish, who is back on Instagram but with less regularity in her content.

“I am definitely not leaving Instagram or anything. It still plays an important role in my business. But my strategy around it will be very different and it is no longer going to be my main social platform. After the experiment, things will never be the same again”, says the founder of the online business community Chromatical Club.

Over in Somerset, a county in South-West England, content creator Emma Shoesmith has noticed a lack of engagement in her posts since January, for which she hires a professional photographer once a year to shoot images for posts and online courses.

“I used to run a production company. So, apart from spending £500 on photos per year, I create all the content, from designing promo posts to shooting my own videos. I enjoy it and I’ll always try and repurpose it on YouTube or in my emails and not solely rely on Instagram to get my work seen”, explains Shoesmith, who went on to take drastic measures:

“I also unfollowed everyone on Instagram as a test to see if my engagement changed. It felt like quite a radical act, only reserved for people like Beyonce”, says Emma, referring to the American singer who has just released her seventh album, Renaissance, after a six-year hiatus, and who follows zero people on the platform. Like Beyonce, 20-year-old singer Billie Eilish also doesn’t follow a single person on Instagram, despite having over 100m followers herself.

Coach Emma Shoesmith

Taking control: coach Emma Shoesmith regained focus after mass unfollowing people on Instagram

“Once I unfollowed everyone, I cut all the sketchy energy ties and my creativity started to flow. I can now keep myself focused on my own work and not get side-tracked by what my peers are doing. My plan is to come off it completely in the future. However, I need to have my marketing eggs in other baskets before I completely make the switch” – anticipates the content creator who pivoted to business coaching and mentorship in 2020, when the global pandemic swapped away clients and axed marketing budgets.

Michelle, Trish, and Emma have never met each other and share different interests.

The common thing between the three women located in different parts of the globe is Instagram, and how it is no longer a place they spend much of their time after a significant drop in the engagement witnessed across in-feed posts on the platform. And these digital creators are far from being the exception when it comes to Instagram users seeing less and less likes, comments, or followers interacting with their content.

Earlier this year, a research study released by social media scheduler company Later highlighted the dip in engagement numbers of in-feed posts, as Meta continued to push Reels as a priority on the platform: there was a 44 percent decrease in the average engagement rate for an in-feed post on Instagram from 2019 to late 2021.

“I remember when Instagram used to be fun. You would post a photo and the likes and comments would come pouring in. There was an incentive to keep your content coming regularly and frequently”, recalls Michelle Rothenburger.

For the past few months some content creators were finding solace in TikTok and its phenomenal reach; Others have decided to take their content to other social media platforms, while setting a deadline to quit Instagram.

“Instagram is dead to me. I recently announced that from September I will only be on TikTok and LinkedIn. In the past couple of weeks, I had 0.2% engagement on Instagram vs 500%+ on TikTok, plus thousands of new followers. It is a no-brainer”, confesses diversity and inclusion consultant Vanessa Sanyauke, founder of Girls Talk London, an organisation partnering with businesses to help them connect to female workforces and expand opportunities in male-dominated sectors.

Not everyone is thrilled to be on the Chinese ByteDance-owned platform, though.

“I only have a work Instagram but noticed that the only decent engagement had been from reels, and it limits the way I want to engage with followers. I only really use it for stories now, as a lot of my feed has been random accounts that I don’t even follow or have anything to do with”, says Saziso Phiri, a creative producer based in the UK.

“With the area of work that I am in, I am having to rethink how I approach social media content for my business. I attended a workshop on TikTok for business, specific to my industry, but having deleted TikTok about 18 months ago I am still a bit reluctant about returning”, ponders Phiri, who is also the founder of The Anti Gallery, a curation and artist development platform launched in 2016 to engage art outside of formal art gallery environments.

It probably doesn’t help that young adults who joined Instagram when it first came around, in 2010, are now in their 30s and with lots going on in their minds – namely bills, mortgages, and the perils of adulting in the real world. So, wrestling with a platform boasting more than 2 billion monthly active users worldwide and an ever-changing algorithm that upsets most of them no longer seems to be a priority to consider.

“I am 38 now and there is a sort of boredom that has developed for me around software, it’s not quite as shiny as it used to be and my priorities have changed to making real in-person connections”, says Emma Shoesmith, who is about to start her first Telegram group for sacred life and business coaching.

Screenshot of messages interchange between model Chrissy teigen and Adam Mosseri

Not happy: Chrissy Teigen told Instagram head that she doesn’t want to make videos

At the end of July 2022, amid concerns of users being unhappy with how Instagram has been discarding static content over the past 12 months after announcing, last summer, that the platform would no longer be a photo-sharing app, Adam Mosseri, Head of @instagram, tried to clear the air through using the format he wants people to use more: Reels.

“I want to be clear: we are going to continue to support photos. It’s part of our heritage,” Mosseri said while assuring users that he, too, loves photos. “That said, I need to be honest: I do believe that more and more of Instagram is going to become video over time. We see this even if we change nothing. We see this even if you just look at the chronological feed” – the executive tried to explain, while ignoring the fact that those still using Instagram will be more likely to engage with more videos thanks to the social media platform continuously twitching its algorithm and metrics to reward those posting videos with cash incentives and further exposure within the app.

Although Mosseri acknowledged that another Instagram update, a full-screen feed currently being tested for a small percentage of users is “Not yet good. And we’re going to have to get it to a good place if we are going to ship it to the rest of the Instagram community”, it is the negligence toward the photo format, and not how content is displayed on the app, that is displeasing former Instagram fans.

The attempt to justify Instagram’s updates and their push to get people posting more video content didn’t land well with model and actress Chrissy Teigen, who has over 38 million followers on the social media app. The TV personality complained on Twitter that she is no longer able to see photos posted by her actual friends – and they are not seeing hers. Mosseri who, according to the Financial Times, will relocate later this year and build out Instagram’s presence in London by hiring more staff to work at Meta’s new offices in King’s Cross, tried to play it down by answering that “Friends post a lot more to stories and send a lot more DMs than they post to Feed. If you want to make sure you never miss a feed post from a friend, add them to your favourites and they will show up at the top.”

Teigen wasn’t having it.

“The only people I know that post a lot to stories are the ones that know their photos get no engagement any longer, so they are doing the thing they find second best. If photos got the engagement they wanted, they wouldn’t do so many (mostly uneventful) stories.”, Chrissy rebuked straightaway in a tweet message. The interchange of public messages went on for a few more tweets where the only two clear things were how disappointed Teigen was with Instagram and how difficult the platform’s decision-makers are finding it to listen to its users, even the famous ones.

On August 1st, after seven weeks of complete absence, fashion blogger Michelle Rothenburger resurfaced on Instagram with a photo wearing 90s low-rise Diesel jeans she thrifted in Switzerland for 12 Euros. The blurred backdrop of the streets behind her was no different from her other 100s of photos posted prior to her break from the social media platform. But this time, the caption included more than the prices of the second-hand items used, it had a clear invitation for readers to check her blog… away from Instagram.

“Recently I have been focusing on Pinterest and it’s a great complement to my blog. I think brands would have much greater success, nowadays, if they focused their efforts on Pinterest rather than Instagram. I have already driven more traffic in the last few months from Pinterest to my blog than I think I ever did from Instagram”, highlights Rothenburger.

Since returning to Instagram, Michelle no longer has a regular posting schedule and doesn’t know when she will be posting again on the platform.

Since complaining to the head of Instagram that her friends can’t see her photos and telling Adam Mosseri that “we don’t wanna make videos”, Chrissy Teigen is posting more … Reels.

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Cannes opens with French comedy and honorary award for Meryl Streep

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Actress Juliette Binoche hands an award to Meryl Steep
Meryl Streep receives a honorary Palme D’Or from Juliette Binoche | Photo: Andrea Rentz

The 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival officially opened last night with Quentin Dupieux’s Le Deuxième Acte (The Second Act), and an honorary Palme d’Or awarded to American actress Meryl Streep.

Presented Out of Competition as a world premiere on the Croisette last night, May 14, this four-part comedy was also released in all French cinemas on the same day. The film stars Lea Seydoux, Vincent Lindon, Louis Garrel and Raphaël Quenard playing squabbling actors filming a movie produced and directed by artificial intelligence.

The opening ceremony of the 77th Festival de Cannes, hosted at the  Grand Théâtre Lumière, also had American actress Meryl Streep as a guest of honour.

Streep received the Festival’s Honorary Palme d’or, 35 years after winning the Best Actress award for Evil Angels, her only appearance in Cannes until last night.

“My mother, who is usually right about everything, said to me: ’Meryl, my darling, you’ll see. It all goes so fast. So fast,″ added Streep. “And it has, and it does. Except for my speech, which is too long,” said the three time Oscar award-winning actress.

Last year French Film director Justine Triet won the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or for her murder mystery film “Anatomy of a Fall” becoming the third female filmmaker ever to win the prize, which was first awarded in 1955. 

The 77th Cannes Film Festival is set to run until May 25th, when the Palme d’Or winners will be revealed, 2024.

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Exhibition in Madrid reveals science and technology behind Pixar’s films

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Exhibition in Madrid reveals science and technology behind Pixar’s films
The Science Behind Pixar can be seen at CaixaForum Madrid until 8 September.

CaixaForum Madrid is currently hosting The Science Behind Pixar exhibition, created by the Museum of Science, Boston, in collaboration with Pixar Animation Studios. The exhibition is divided into eight sections, corresponding to the steps in the process Pixar uses to transform an idea into a film. With specific examples from some of their most famous films, the public will be able to experiment with the techniques behind the modelling, rigging, surfaces, sets and cameras, animation, simulation, lighting and rendering of animated films.

This is the third collaboration between the ”la Caixa” Foundation and Pixar Studios. In 2015, Pixar: 25 Years of Animation, represented a thorough review of this pioneering company’s work in computer animation in its 25 years of history. Subsequently, Pixar, Building Characters (which has travelled to five CaixaForums since 2020) focused on the visual design of the Pixar characters to best transmit the story and fit in with the other elements of the film. Now, the eight sections of The Science Behind Pixar will give visitors an insight into every stage of the technical process used by Pixar’s artists and computer scientists

The aim of the new exhibition is to peel away, layer by layer and in a way that is attractive for all audiences, the scientific, computer and mathematical concepts that lie behind our favourite Pixar characters. To do this, the exhibition is organised into eight sections, each of which explains in depth one specific step of Pixar’s technical process: Modelling, which allows characters to be created in 3D; Rigging, in which the virtual bones, muscles and joints are developed; design of Surfaces and Sets; Animation, which brings the story to life; Simulation, which provides automated movements; Lighting, which enhances the emotional impact, and Rendering, which turns 3D scenes into 2D images.

Throughout 815 square metres in CaixaForum Madrid, visitors will learn about all these steps that Pixar pays passionate attention to in order to bring its worlds and characters to life. Dozens of interactive and audiovisual elements will reveal what is hidden behind Pixar films, from the first-ever computer-animated feature film – Toy Story – which opened over two decades ago, to the release of Turning Red.

To better understand the science and maths that go into creating the worlds and characters of Pixar’s films, visitors will see audiovisuals and hear first-hand from members of the studios’ production teams. They will also be invited to experience different roles within the production pipeline, through screen-based activities and physical interactive elements.

In the Sets & Cameras section, for example, visitors will discover how camera placement and angles created a bug’s-eye view for A Bug’s Life; in Modelling, they will try their hand at creating a digital sculpture from an artist’s sketch and in Lighting they will use lights to solve challenges similar to ones Pixar faced in creating underwater scenes with virtual light in Finding Nemo. The exhibition route also includes human-size recreations of many Pixar film characters, such as Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story), Dory (Finding Nemo), Mike and Sulley (Monsters, Inc.), Edna Mode (The Incredibles) and WALL·E (from the film of the same name).

Throughout the months that the exhibition will remain at CaixaForum Madrid, the ”la Caixa” Foundation will be offering various activities to bring the art and science of Pixar closer to all audiences. In addition, the general public can take a guided tour and families can choose between the family tour and the animated stories workshop-tour, where visitors can make a short, animated clip to understand all the phases of the creative process after visiting the exhibition.

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Switzerland wins Eurovision song contest with non-binary singer

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Non-binary singer Nemo, winner of the Eurovision 2024
Singer Nemo performed ‘The Code’ for Switzerland | Photo: Alma Bengtsson

After the very last set of scores had come in, The Code, performed by rapper Neno, was announced as the clear champion of the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 with a points tally of 591 and a lead of 44 points. 

Croatia finished in second place with Rim Tim Tagi Dim by Baby Lasagna on 547 points. The other spot on the podium finish went to Ukraine, ending up in third place thanks to alyona alyona & Jerry Heil with their song Teresa & Maria, on 453 points.

Scores on the night were awarded in two stages, as is traditional at the Eurovision Song Contest. The first results to come in were from the juries, followed by the reveal of the public vote.

Once the initial points from 37 juries had come in, Switzerland already had secured the lead on the scoreboard with 365 points.

Nemo is the first nonbinary artist to win Eurovision.

“I’m mostly just really grateful for this experience and all the friends I’ve made along the way. This was one of the most queer representations we’ve seen at Eurovision which was amazing, I want to shout out all the other queer artists this year,” said the artist who was born in Biel, a small bilingual town in Switzerland.

Nemo’s triumph in Malmö is Switzerland’s third win at the Eurovision Song Contest to date, following victory by Lys Assia in 1956 and Céline Dion in 1988.

Switzerland first participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1956, winning the very first edition of the competition, which it also hosted. 

It has been a controversial year for the song contest festival launched in 1956. For weeks, the question of whether Israel should be allowed to compete or not while engaged in a military conflict in Gaza dominated the media surrounding the event and attracted pro-Palestine activists to the Swedish city of Malmö. Eden Golan, a 20-year old singer representing Israel, was booed during a dress rehearsal; It has been reported that she was confined to her hotel room, while in Malmo to perform at Eurovision, after a series of threats against the Israeli delegation. Hours before the grand final, on May 11th, Dutch rapper Joost Klein, who represented the Netherlands, was disqualified from Eurovision 2024 over what the organisers described as an “incident” involving a female member of the production crew.

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