Instagram is ideal for building awareness but not merely brand awareness. People and organizations are using the network to increase awareness about social causes and issues.
Gan Chin Lin uses Instagram as a way to recover from and cope with an eating disorder. Lin’s work of cooking, baking and taking photos has turned into a passion; she calls herself an “advocate for a healthy, nourished lifestyle.”
Brand tip: don’t be afraid to address social issues. Think about the issues that matter to you and your audience. How can you use visual media to address those concerns and provide hope?
Maz McWilliams uses Instagram to document creative images of melons to increase awareness about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). People started asking him about the project, resulting in a collaborative movement.
Brand tip: empower your community. Ask them to participate in your cause by providing basic guidelines and a hashtag.
Jamie Oliver also focuses on food, but his goal is to promote both an event and a cause. His Food Revolution Day seeks to excite kids about healthy food, teach them how to cook and raise awareness about the need for better food education.
Brand tip: use Instagram to generate excitement and momentum for a short-term event while promoting long-term interest and support for the cause to which it ties.
Jill Abramson the former executive editor of The New York Times has found Instagram useful on both a PR and a social issue level even if she isn’t directly responsible. When she was forced out of the Times, her daughter took to Instagram to show off her mother’s new hobby.
Brand tip: harness the narrative through visual media. Be careful; Macklemore’s public apology after his Grammy’s win was so flagrantly self-interested that he has received even more public ill will.
The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) uses Instagram to raise awareness about AIDS and to build excitement and support for its fundraisers and auctions.
Brand tip: give your audience a sneak peek into upcoming events with behind-the-scenes footage.