Hand holding iPhone with Instagram log-in page on the screen.

Insta-Activism: How to Leverage Instagram for Your Next Advocacy Campaign

Apr 23, 2024
Instagram is a powerful tool for activism. Here's how to utilize the platform for social change.

Over the past several months, Instagram has played a vital role for U.S.-based advocates organizing on behalf of Palestinians and amplifying the voices from inside Gaza. Instagram is now a central hub where activists and allies can find photos and videos from journalists on the ground in Gaza, statistics on the crisis, GoFundMes for families trying to evacuate, community organizations to get involved with, and local protests and vigils. #Gaza now has 5.8 million posts, #freepalestine 8.8 million posts, and #ceasefirenow 720k posts. 

The impact of the app cannot be overstated, and in an increasingly digital world, it is a key space for movement building. So how can you leverage Instagram in your own advocacy work? This blog will cover the Instagram organizing landscape and explore some keys to success in Instagram activism.


Instagram is a visual social media platform boasting over 1 billion users. Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has remained one of the most used social media sites around the world. The United States alone is second only to India as the country with the highest number of users at 169.65 million users. As these numbers only continue to grow, you’ll want to ensure that you or your organization has an active presence on the platform in order to reach your target audience. This is especially true if you are hoping to mobilize young people; 61.1% of Instagram users are between the ages of 18-34. As of 2023, 62% of teens report using Instagram, a percentage that has been steadily increasing since 2014. Teens and other young people are turning to Instagram for information, and you have the opportunity to bring them into your movement. Instagram is also a hub for many advocacy groups, some of which are now using it as an alternative to X/Twitter. This makes it a great space to check out the work being done by others in the movement, connect with allies, and recruit users who are using Instagram for political engagement.

Another prime example of Instagram’s influence on social movement is the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020. Instagram allowed activists to raise awareness about the murder of George Floyd, share the experiences and realities of Black Americans, and provide protest safety tips in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, Movers and Shakers NYC used Instagram to raise $10,000 to buy 12,000 KN95 masks for Black Lives Matter protesters in June 2020, while Freedom March NYC raised over $55,000 to buy supplies and train organizers. In fact, activism on Instagram has become such a powerful force that many believe Meta tries to stifle pro-Palestinian voices. This goes to show that Instagram remains a powerful tool to effect social change, as it makes a tremendous impact on the political and social consciousness of the public.


If you’re new to Instagram, or new to using Instagram for advocacy work, first take some time to explore the app and get to know the interface. Start by following other organizations and individuals you admire, and take a look at the kinds of posts they’re sharing. You can also look at the accounts they’re following that may also be in the activism sphere. Feel free to draw inspiration from their posts as you start thinking about what you want to share to your own account. Instagram allows for multiple kinds of posts: photos (up to ten photos per post), Reels (Instagram’s video feature), and Stories, which last for 24 hours. 70% of users watch Instagram Stories daily, which means they are a great way to spread your message. Photos and reels will show up in the feeds of your followers and they can scroll through their feeds or go to your profile to find your posts, while stories will show up at the top of their screens. The types of posts your organization shares will depend on the goal of your post as well as the type of content you’re sharing. For example, if your organization is hosting an event, here is one way you could promote it utilizing different post formats:

  • Initial post in advance: eye-catching graphic that announces your event and includes time, date, location, and any other necessary information. If you’re not able to capture all the information on the first graphic, you can add more images to the post and even include additional context.
  • Story on the day of: reminder that your event is happening that night. Given the time sensitive nature, you don’t have to worry about your story disappearing in 24 hours. You can also upload your initial post to your story, so you don’t have to repeat information.
  • Reel following the event: video highlights of the event to share your success and inspire followers to join the next one! This is also a great opportunity to include video trends or a popular song. 

Another great feature of Instagram is how easy it is to share posts and drive up engagement. Not only can you reshare your own posts to your story, but others can add your posts to their stories as well, allowing you to reach a whole new audience of their followers. This is where coalition building is key. You and your coalition partners can share each other’s posts to uplift one another’s work. If you feel comfortable doing so, you can even direct message (or DM) partners and ask them to share your content. Chances are, their followers will be interested in the work you’re doing and the information you’re sharing, and will want to check out the rest of your account (and they may even decide to follow you too)! This is how you grow your account and reach people that may not have found you otherwise. 

DMing can also be a strategic way to collaborate with partners. While email is tried and true, communicating through Instagram gives other organizations the opportunity to see what your social media presence is like and if you have followers in common. You can even create group chats with multiple accounts and use that as a space to share resources and propose joint events. Once you start working with other groups, you can share a post from multiple accounts at once so that all your followers will see it in their feeds. 

Here’s an example of a collaborative post between Palestinian Youth Movement, PYM Bay Area, and Bay Bridge 78 Defense Committee, announcing that protestors who blocked the Bay Bridge in San Francisco in support of a ceasefire in Gaza reached an agreement with the court that would allow them to avoid jail time. Since the post was shared by all three accounts, it was able to reach all of their followers, a combined 547k accounts. Additionally, followers of @palestinianyouthmovement, which has the largest following of the three, now know about @bayareapym and @bb78solidarity when they might not have before. As you work on growing your Instagram following, making collaborative posts with accounts with larger followings is a great place to start.  

Screenshot of Instagram post shared by @palestinianyouthmovement, bayareapym, and @bb78solidarity announcing that  that protestors who blocked the Bay Bridge in San Francisco in support of a ceasefire in Gaza reached an agreement with the court that would allow them to avoid jail time. Screenshot of Instagram post shared by @palestinianyouthmovement, bayareapym, and @bb78solidarity announcing that  that protestors who blocked the Bay Bridge in San Francisco in support of a ceasefire in Gaza reached an agreement with the court that would allow them to avoid jail time.



  • Instagram may not be the best place to plan or announce certain types of actions if there is a risk that your posts will be used to disrupt planned advocacy or hurt individual organizers.
  • Don’t share photos of participants at an event or action without their consent. 
  • While group chats are a great place to share your posts and get to know other organizers, they are not meant to be a replacement for Signal or similar encrypted messaging platforms. We don’t recommend planning civil disobedience or other actions on Instagram.