How can we use Instagram more to support development?

I’m afraid this is a genuine question that I don’t know the answer to – so please help me answer it. How can we use Instagram more to help development?

Earlier today I met with a youth group in Alexandra, Johannesburg to talk to them about the use of images in NGO fundraising campaigns. After the discussion I noticed several of them get their mobile phones out to check for “updates”. I had already taken up a lot of their time, so quickly asked if they used social media on their phones. “Of course we do” one of them said. I asked which social media channels they use the most and it was a unanimous response of “Instagram”. What about Facebook and Twitter I asked, “We use Facebook, but not Twitter, Instagram is much better.” So I asked if they thought Instagram could be used for development. “Definitely – Instagram is a great way of finding out what’s going on in the world and for learning about different things – it’s so easy to share information with friends too.”

I was so intrigued by this response, but really didn’t want to take up more of their time. I’ve seen several semi-successful campaigns by NGOs, one of which I mention in my blog post earlier today. I’ve also written about Instagram accounts such as Barbie Saviour and Everyday Africa, but I’d love to learn more about grass roots initiatives on Instagram that have been successful for development.

Please share any examples you have found.

3 thoughts to “How can we use Instagram more to support development?”

  1. I think this is a really interesting question.

    I don’t think there is a single answer to it, but I feel that it’s more about engaging with a certain audience – engagement increases understanding, so in this case you might be able to reach a younger audience.

    The next question would be what do you want to say and what do you want the audience to do about it?

    I think influential Instagram profiles like @everydayafrica are great because they open up a space for discussion.

  2. The use of Instagram in the development sector can be interesting and influential because it allows an organization to engage with the public by showing real, raw and candid snippets (although this can obviously portray a framed reality as well) into the life of a development organization, and just generally the context in which the organization is working.
    I particularly enjoy following account such as for instance @everydayafrica etc. (as mentioned above) because it shows “ a day in the life”. Instagram can show you a reality which you would not otherwise see of experience as a follower, expect if you would be present there yourself. A development organization can easily, by using Instagram, show their work from a different perspective. I think it’s a great tool for storytelling, alhough I’m not so sure about it being a tool for fundraising.

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