Instagram can be beautiful images curated around any topic one wishes to share with others. Whether you’re a professional photographer, fashion blogger, artist, lifestyle blogger, reader, writer, athlete, or an individual with varied interests, if you can create images you can participate in IG culture.
Another thing these disparate fields of interest have in common is the humanity inherent in the person with the interest. No matter what you’re posting about, it is likely that you have strong views on some topic, whether it is political, environmental, or social. Instagram can also be a powerful platform from which to share information about topics you feel strongly about in order to promote political awareness or activism.
You may be tempted to check out of this conversation before we begin, so let me reassure you by saying – political activism doesn’t have to be scary or even all that controversial. For example, helping those who have suffered due to a natural disaster is one cause around which many people are able to find common ground.
What is Activism?
So, what is activism? According to Webster’s:
Yes, that does say a controversial issue, but you really can begin with something that has minimal controversy surrounding. Raising awareness of child abuse, supporting an animal shelter, or disaster relief are all viable options that do not have nearly the level of controversy around them as politics, reproductive rights, or laws regulating marriage.
It’s important to share what is authentically of interest to you and what you are comfortable engaging your audience with.
Why IG is a Great Vehicle for Activism?
Humans are visual storytellers. For more than 10,000 years, we have been telling our stories with pictures. Cave paintings such as the one found at Cueva de las Manos show the instinctual and powerful nature of art and the collective.
By Mariano – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
The Cave of Hands became a UNESCO World Heritage site because it “… contains an outstanding collection of prehistoric rock art which bears witness to the culture of the earliest human societies in South America.” While no one would place the importance of Instagram at the same level as a world heritage site, the platform does bear witness to the culture of our modern society.
IG has become a modern cave wall upon which individual users are leaving their handprint to become part of the visual record that tells the story of who we are and what is important to us.
Instagram Activism in Action
Paul Nicklen is a photographer, contributor to National Geographic, and founder of who is bringing awareness of Sea Legacy which was created to raise awareness of the conditions of the ocean to a wider audience. His Instagram account has more than 6 million followers and is filled with beautiful images that help bring greater awareness to his favorite cause.
Celebrities often use Instagram to push the needle on causes dear to them. Anne Hathaway used a powerful image of Christine Ford to share her solidarity with the #metoo movement with her 16.5 million followers.
Author and influencer Glennon Doyle uses her platform to raise awareness about a wide variety of causes.
She never shies away from sharing her opinion and is actively engaged with her followers, even when they disagree with her point of view. She consistently offers polite feedback and dialogue with those who comment on her posts in an apparent effort to raise awareness without being confrontational.
No matter where you are on the political or ideological spectrum, sharing informed opinions in an open-minded and tolerant way is beneficial to those who follow you and those who may stumble upon one of your posts from following various hashtags.
In a world where algorithms have led to carefully curated social media echo chambers, it is more important than ever to offer authentic viewpoints and be willing to respectfully disagree on important topics. Conversations are the way minds and hearts are changed, but they can only occur when someone is willing to initiate a dialogue. While social media, and Instagram specifically, may not seem like the obvious choice for engaging in meaningful conversation, the influencers above prove that it can be done. More importantly, it can be done in a way that does not feel overwhelming or combative and that maintains the visual elegance possible with the platform.
Your Voice Matters
If you’ve decided that a cause you’re passionate about is worth sharing on Instagram, there are several ways to make sure your voice is heard and posts with your point of view are shared.
As someone who is already using Instagram, you are undoubtedly aware of the power of the #hashtag. Look for other users who are talking about taking action around a cause you support and see what hashtags are being used regularly then be sure to incorporate them into any related posts.
The best art, and the best IG posts, are personal. You want to evoke an emotional response and connect with the viewer. Once you do, it’s important to engage in the conversation with them. If someone replies to your post, talk to them! Even if they disagree with your point of view, it can be an opportunity to learn more about how the opposing side thinks and to share your own views from a place of respect.
Finally, be sure to give your followers a way to engage directly with the cause themselves by leaving a link in your bio. Unfortunately, Instagram only lets you share one link. But there are many services such as Link Tree and Link Bio that allow you to use that one link to connect followers to many different places.
Your voice matters and just because there may be thousands of other voices talking about the same topic doesn’t make your contribution less valuable or important. The way you help someone else experience a new idea can be different enough that it shifts their perception in a way no one else has managed – and that matters.
Does it Really Count?
The final argument you may come up against if you do choose to engage in activism on Instagram or other social media platforms is that it doesn’t really count. Common critiques are that it is “easy” to say something from behind the safety of a screen or that nothing “real” is happening unless you are giving money, time, or your physical presence to a cause.
This is nothing more than an excuse to stay quiet or an effort to keep someone else from speaking their own truth. No matter the size of your audience, sharing what you stand for with others absolutely counts. Furthermore, one is never limited in what they do and in sharing your views on social media you are not limited in taking other actions.
It is impossible to quantify the impact a single post can have when seen by someone who was unaware or previously unreceptive to information on the topic. Change happens slowly at first and always with an exchange of ideas. Don’t let anyone tell you that your thoughts are less valuable and your contribution less meaningful. When you take any action for something you believe in, it counts.