Do you have causes you care about deeply? Are you on Instagram? Then it’s time for Instagram social activism. You may not realize this, but using your social media is one way you can support and promote those causes. 

Instagram, bought by Facebook in 2012, has more than one billion monthly active users, making it hard to ignore this social media platform. 

You may think that Instagram is primarily an image and graphic sharing tool, naturally attracting businesses that rely on visuals. But Instagram has evolved. More and more people use it to learn something new, build relationships, and show support for causes. 

Instagram didn’t start as a platform for social activism, just like Facebook didn’t start as a political platform.

  • Instagram’s use to fuel activism came into its own in 2020 during the BLM protests honoring George Floyd, when protest hashtags like #blackouttuesday became popular, along with the black square profile picture.
  • According to Teen Vogue, younger users are finding creative ways to use the platform to speak up about current events and social justice, educate, inspire, and build a loyal following.
  • Influencers, organizations, and entrepreneurs, who used to be unfazed by current events, have joined in to support political and social causes on Instagram.

Instagram activism is most effective when it doesn’t start and stop on Instagram. It’s possible to meet people where they already are and inspire them to take action outside of Instagram.  It’s time for more of us, including older adults, to make use of this tool. 

As with any social media platform, it’s up to you to fact-check. Many Instagram accounts are purely based on conversation, commentary, and community and are not intended to be journalistic sources. 

Whether you use Instagram to promote your cause or support organizations important to you, here are seven great reasons to use Instagram for social activism:

1 – Find the others

  • Use the Instagram search bar to type in keywords, and you’ll find a variety of people and organizations aligned with your interests.  
  • Exploring #hashtags, which are the way Instagram organizes and categorizes content, makes it easy to find like-minded people active in your area of interest. 
  • When you begin to follow accounts, Instagram will suggest similar versions, making it easy to discover new people and organizations.

2 – Show support

  • Show your support for accounts that post great content consistently by following them, sharing their posts, and mentioning their account handle with an @ sign.
  • Instagram will begin suggesting other accounts that are similar, leading you to deepen your engagement in your areas of interest.
  • Not interested in an account anymore? It’s easy to unfollow. They won’t know unless they specifically try to find you in their follow list. 

3 – Show your personality

  • Unlike Facebook and Twitter, where the same message is sent to the masses, hoping it resonates, Instagram is the place to show your personality.
  • Instagram users expect content to be informal and messy, especially in stories and reels. This allows the personality and values behind your cause to tell the story.
  • Tools like Canva make it easy to be creative with graphics and video, without constantly showing your face, which is a bonus for many people.

4 – Make your message visual

  • 10-image carousels are a way to educate and inform people about your cause one slide at a time.
  • When you create a 10-image carousel, it’s a chance to get your point across in a mini-slideshow. And, it’s easy to put together in a tool like Canva.
  • These posts are found on the explore page or are reposted by people passionate about your cause.  

5 – Give them a reason to share

  • When Instagram was first introduced, it measured success solely by likes and comments, so content had a short shelf life.
  • Instagram has since made it easy to save content, so people can share content later in a direct message or to Instagram stories.
  • The focus on creating content worth saving gives content a longer lifespan and takes advantage of the algorithm to amplify your cause.

6 – Scaling down to scale up

  • While some businesses, brands, and entrepreneurs think the key to success in marketing is scaling up, the key to success on Instagram is scaling down.
  • By consistently posting content and responding to your followers with comments, likes, and direct messages, you’re creating loyal fans.
  • People who resonate with your message and align with your values are much more likely to take action to support your cause.

7 – One-on-one engagement with anyone

  • Engaging in stories is a great way to show your spontaneous and personal support for the person behind the cause.
  • Direct messages (DMs) are a great way to build relationships with people you may not otherwise have access to. This builds loyalty, making it easier to take action.
  • You may receive messages from people you don’t follow. These messages are marked pending, and you get a chance to accept the message or delete it.

As you can see, Instagram has unique features that make it possible to reach people who may not be active on other social media platforms and inspire them to take action to support your cause. 

Jan Golden sitting at her computerAre you Interested in learning more about how you can use Instagram to support our efforts to end ageism? Sign up for our upcoming Instagram workshop: “Many Voices, One Choir: Instagram Workshop for Aging Advocates”.

Jan Golden is a Change AGEnt for Changing the Narrative, as well as the founder of Age-Friendly Vibes, a stationery brand focused on spreading age-positivity.

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