Instagram is one of those social media apps that serves a multipurpose. Not only is it utilized for one’s personal use, but it can also be used to market a business, promote a specific brand, or campaign for one’s political beliefs. One other realm of importance that I see Instagram serve is advocacy and standing up for various causes that are most prevalent in our society today.
Instagram’s multi-functional platform enables its users to not only post content that is personal to them, but it also gives people the chance to create pages that advocate for various social justice issues. Various groups like the Human Right Campaign, Time’s Up, and Black Lives Matter are all social justice groups that have not only started as marches and riots, but have since been digitized to fit the confines of Instagram’s promotional platform.
For all of these different Instagram pages, the biggest part of the advocacy is done through the profile itself. Each photo that is posted to the profile correlates to a specific issue that is currently active in our society with a caption that depicts the issue at hand. Much like the most recent school shootings, for example, pages that promote the end for gun violence use their Instagram pages to post pictures of gun violence statistics and those affected by gun violence. Pictures are worth a thousand words, so posting pictures that correlate to the cause you are advocating for will show your followers the importance behind the issue, as well as the raw emotion that those pictures can evoke.
Another reason why advocacy is big on Instagram and why it is so accessibly used is because of the target population. Instagram has a wide user base that consists of people of all ages, but it is mainly comprised of the Millennial demographic. Millennials have taken the Instagram world by storm and have used Instagram as their main source of content and expression. No longer are the days where people turn to reading and writing as their way to discover the world and to communicate with one another. Instagram’s picture format has replaced the written word and has given Millennials a chance to showcase themselves in a way other than words. By advocating for various causes through Instagram, one is giving their cause or organization much more recognition to the younger generations. Millennials are one of the most politically and socially active generations to date, so utilizing Instagram to champion for various issues will reach those Millennials who use the app consistently. Moreover, it will get the conversation on these issues started by Millennials and will create a chain reaction from Instagram posts to complete physical action.
Advocacy on Instagram is becoming a more trendy and accessible form of outreach for those causes that need a voice. That is why advocacy on Instagram is also a prevalent tool—and a widely used concept—in creating a voice for organizations that are either silenced or forgotten about. Especially organizations that stand up for the LGBTQI* and mental health communities, using Instagram as a vehicle to promote human rights, Same sex marriage, the eradication of stigma surrounding mental health, and for those struggling with mental illness allow these organizations to implement their voice into conversations that society negates or deems taboo. One’s voice can be created through the posts one has on Instagram or the kinds of content that is published on one’s page, but advocating for organizations like The Trevor Project or NAMI provide the kind of voice that will make these organizations be heard: visibility. Not only that, but it gives those people who are a part of the LGBTQI* and mental health communities a face and an identity. By giving these organizations a voice that will be heard by society is giving them a voice that will make them visible in an oppressive and blind society. By supporting these organizations on Instagram through posts and profile constructions, it gives these organizations a much needed voice that will have people acknowledge their presence and that will allow people to see how important these organizations are. Advocacy is all about shedding light on various issues, so giving these organizations a voice—and using Instagram as that vehicle to get them that recognition—will show Instagram users and society alike the pragmatism, significance, and relevance that these various organizations possess and have always possessed.
Advocating can also be done on Instagram through the story feature, promoting and highlighting various topics that correspond to the issues each page is currently talking about. While the posts on one’s profile is long lasting, advocating for these organizations through stories is a great way to reach a target audience through a more short-term, yet quickened space. Stories are widely used and seen by Instagram users alike and can sometimes be more accessible than an actual post is. Especially for organizations that want to shed light on a small, yet impactful piece of information they found about an issue, posting a story with that information will get to people faster. Especially during the Black Lives Matter movement and the shooting at Pulse Gay Nightclub in Orlando, FL, sharing stories about remembering those whose lives were lost or a quick reminder to never forget the events that affected both the Black and LGBTQI* communities are ways of advocating by quickly preaching for states of change. Stories are snapshots on a person’s Instagram, so utilizing moments on the story feature that can be widely accessed by people everywhere will not only be a benefit to those organizations, but will also help aid them in their efforts by allowing ALL people to access their resources thanks to this quickened version of outreach on Instagram.
The reason for advocacy is now more important than ever before and, thanks to social media apps like Instagram, it is much easier to cultivate a voice and a following for social justice issues that need and deserve national recognition. Like how Tree Frogs works to gain user’s a strong following for support, likes, and follows, creating a strong coalition of followers for various advocacy Instagram pages—especially for the ones I mentioned above—will help the voices of those who feel oppressed to now feel heard. Having that strong following and gaining that following is what will help these organizations to flourish in the eyes of society, but to also provide support and resilience for those who we are advocating for. Take action for those who need it most and become an agent of change for the world we live in today. Using Instagram for this is just the beginning to a long and rewarding journey fighting for human decency, equality, and ultimately, what is right.