One of the best ways to grab attention online is simply to take photos and share them on social media. There are some really eye-catching social movements out there that started with one picture and became effective at highlighting an issue. This is relatively easy for groups and networks to set up as a project to raise awareness for their cause or their members.
We thought some examples where pictures were successfully used by groups online to get attention might provide you and your group with some inspiration.
Using Blogs and Photography
One of the easy ways to raise awareness of an issue is to blog about it and use photography to bring it to life in the reader’s mind. Imagery is powerful and conveys a message in ways that words cannot. When used in combination with social media it can take on a life of its own. Take nine-year-old Martha Payne from Scotland, who was so dissatisfied with the standard of her school meal she began to photograph those meals and blog about the issue. This got the attention of the press and thousands of followers. Martha was banned from taking photos at school as a result, but the impact of her work led to a charity being formed to provide meals in impoverished countries — all because of one kid, her camera and her blog!
Instagram and Hashtags
It’s amazing how fast a carefully crafted hashtag and picture can raise awareness of an important issue. The beauty of the internet is that anyone can do it. One example is the work of Nick Tullis, a photographer who captured the plight of the homeless in St Louis. By taking photos and uploading them to Instagram, he was able to create awareness of the problems associated with homelessness and staged an exhibition that raised funds for a shelter for homeless people. Another way that photography and hashtags have highlighted serious community issues is with the lack of toilets in villages in India and Vietnam. The work of Andrea Bruce and other Instagrammers has highlighted the dangers to women of a lack of bathrooms, as well as the hygiene risk. In Delhi, communities without access to a functioning toilet are being empowered to raise the issue and challenge authorities to provide sanitation, particularly in a world where more people own a cell phone than a toilet.
Share Your Picture
One of the simplest ways of creating a social movement behind an issue is to use social media to share photos. Combined with a hashtag, these can go viral quickly. A photo of a kid in Ghana concentrating on school work sparked thousands of photos with messages as to what the boy was thinking. More importantly, it raised much needed funds for his school. In South Africa, the Salvation Army used a picture of a bruised woman in a dress to raise awareness of domestic violence, leveraging a meme that had recently lit up the Internet with the question of whether or not a dress was black and blue. Industry parlance for this kind of thing is ‘news-jacking.’
Pictures can convey very powerful messages and are ideal for communities, groups and networks to use when raising issues and campaigning on relevant subjects.