Escaping ads with an alternative to Instagram

April 2, 2021

At Cocoon, we conduct member interviews every week to learn more about how the app is weaving into people's lives, and uncover opportunities to serve them better. This series shares some of our favorite stories.

We recently talked with Toni U., who owns a vineyard with her husband in California. Toni shared with us about leaving the ads and complexity of Instagram and Facebook behind to find a space with no filler.


"You know what, there's got to be an alternative." The thought popped into Toni's head as she reached the end of her rope with Instagram. She had fled Facebook to Instagram years earlier due to misgivings about the platform, though she was painfully aware that Facebook owned both apps. In the end, it was the avalanche of ads that prompted her search for a better option.

"In the last year, they just started adding so many ads. It was hard to even find the content from my friends without scrolling through 50 ads. And then I'd have to remove certain ads to keep them from repeating over and over... I was just getting really annoyed."

Toni had tried Ello, but it was hard to use and geared mostly towards artists. When Cocoon came up on her search, she found it had all the features she wanted, without the ads or extra complications. For Toni, the complexity of Facebook got in the way of connecting with the people she cares about. She was also tired of being judged by people she didn't know.

Toni downloaded our app and created one Cocoon for her family and another for her friends. Like many of our "pioneers", she tends to be the person in her social circles who facilitates connection, a "social director", as she puts it. Since her friend group has now moved to different areas of the country, She's putting in extra effort to keep her friend group close now that they've moved to different states, and Cocoon gives them an intimate space that's all their own.

"What you're doing is exactly the slice of Facebook that I liked— just being able to chat with friends and family, share pictures and videos, and stay in touch. I haven't missed anything."

It was lovely to talk with Toni. Many of us are unhappy with how much noise exists in our digital lives, but few follow through and make a change. Hearing her story was great motivation!