When I decided to create an Instagram page that set out to challenge society’s standards of the ideal female body image, I had hoped I would make a small ping in the vast community of social media activists. What I actually ended up with was a valuable lesson in online activism and social media outreach.
I will be the first one to celebrate the endless possibilities social media provides, especially for activism. Or so I thought. I had this preconceived notion that social media was the best tool for activism because the majority of the general public is constantly connected. I decided my target audience would be women who are seeking some form of motivation or inspiration in their lives. Of course, I didn’t want to be biased so I set my privacy as public. I figured that one user’s like or follow was just as important as the next, regardless of whether or not their page aligned with my activist message. I thought the best way for my page to be recognized by my target audience was to utilize hastags in my posts. For the most part, I was pleased to see that my use of hastags attracted a decent amount of likes, comments, and followers. Although I didn’t receive the volume of interaction I had hoped for, I accepted that it’s not about the likes, comments, or follows. Even if I was only able to inspire or motivate a few people, the point is that I made a small change that addresses a larger problem.
The biggest challenge I faced during the development of the project was achieving a balance between my personal commitments and taking the time to compose a meaningful post. I am a stickler for organization and planning so the next time around, I would take the time to create a weekly schedule for posting and stick to it.
Something that worked well was that I exercised proper online etiquette. I made sure that if I was reposting something, it wasn’t simply a repost without any original message. I would repost an image or video from another user, influential within the women’s health and wellness community, and attach my own message or opinion to it. I think it is important to give credit to the creator of the content, but to also incorporate your own original content. It was also very helpful for me to follow the users operating within the same community I was trying to reach.
One of the most significant ways that the project changed my relationship to activism from start to finish was that I now have a better understanding of activism and the role of an activist in the sense that both involve the use of multiple approaches. In my opinion, activism is not just one thing and the approach to participating in activism is unique for each individual and collective group. Therefore, activism operates in many forms and it is constantly evolving as activists adapt their strategies to the ever-changing mediums of communication.