In this article, you will learn how to use Instagram effectively as an activist. You can use it to showcase your activism on your personal account, or to grow your protest movement. Also check out our other guides on social media for activists.
'Saving our planet is now a communications challenge,' - David Attenborough
When you created your Instagram account, your main goal was to share the pieces of your life with your family and friends. However, Instagram is a great platform to introduce your activist work (or the work of your organisation) with a wider audience. From carousel posts to Reels and IGTV, Instagram offers a lot of options for you to connect and mobilize people to join the movement or take direct action. In this article, you will find some advice on how to approach your target group via Instagram.
The way you approach people depends on their background, age, socio-economic status, culture, priorities (on how to choose your platform according to your target group, read our article Choosing your platform). The important thing to remember is that you are not trying to educate nor convince the person you are speaking to, you are trying to have a conversation with them. That entails that you should use your Instagram to inspire people and invite them to engage in communicating with you.
Focus time-span for an average person is about 8 seconds. So, you have 8 seconds to convince them that your post is worth reading. And not only that, you are also competing with a lot of other organisations whose activities are similar to yours, influencers, commercials, clickbait titles…
Also, when a person comes across your Instagram content, often your passion and dedication can be seen through the phone screen, as they will be seen if you are meeting somebody in person.
So, the topic that you are communicating should not be too broad nor too vague, for example like environmental protection or raising environmental awareness. That entails that your profile description should clearly state which problem are you trying to solve and which tools are you using for it and it should be directed to your target group (for example, instead of raising environmental awareness, you can put: using interactive workshops on urban environmental issues in working with middle school children).
Transparency builds trust. It is important for people on social media to know who is behind the organisation, in which city is your organisation based, what is the motivation behind your work, up-dated contact details (especially e-mail address), the way you are financing your work, who are your partners etc.
You need to communicate with your specific goal in mind and not get carried away with the number of followers (which changes to do you want to make and which tools are you going to use in reaching this). This will help you avoid ‘clicktivism’ - engaging persons in activities that require minimal effort via the Internet commitment (for example, just liking posts, without any further actions). You need to be clear with your goals and share with the community what is a right thing for them to do to help you achieve that goal.
To put it simply - Practice what you preach. For example, if your specific goal is to help people reduce their plastic waste by 50%, you can not host the event that is sponsored by major corporations that produce a lot of plastic waste. This will create distrust of your community and will lead to losing followers/contributors/volunteers.
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