How UNICEF connects with its two million Instagram followers

By Sam Waterton @SamWaterton, Social Media Content Strategist for @UNICEF

A quick glance at @UNICEF’s Instagram feed will show you the pure breadth of our work. Just like a gallery, we’re curating the best content from our programmes and country offices, and creating our own short videos and graphics too.unicef-01

Yes, our channel has some of the cutest, most adorable children on the planet, but Instagram isn’t just a ‘happy place’ for us. We prioritize content from emergencies and key campaigns to feature some of the most pressing issues affecting children of our time: man-made and natural disasters, violence, early child development, education and health. Through Instagram, we’re visually sharing UNICEF’s raison d’être; we save children’s lives, defend their rights and help them fulfil their potential – and we never give up.

Less is more

unicef-02Short videos of just a few seconds are our top performing content. Whether it’s a little boy covered in suds, washing himself from a bucket in Côte d’Ivoire, a group of children paddling on a boat through their flooded village in Bangladesh, or a slo-mo of a backflip at a talent show for child refugees in Iraq, less is definitely more.

Our roster of Goodwill Ambassadors helps us boost awareness on specific issues, while their huge followings help us reach new audiences. On recent trips, Orlando Bloom shone a spotlight on the terrible impact of conflict on children in Niger, while Priyanka Chopra championed the importance of education for Syrian refugees living in Jordan.

Telling stories

unicef-03With all its stickers, filters, rewind videos and boomerangs, Instagram Stories is a particular fun place to get creative, and vital for highlighting our life-saving work for children during emergencies. The more rough and ready side of Instagram allows us to use raw mobile phone footage. Recently, this has helped us cover our work helping children affected by devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean and creating exclusive behind-the-scenes content for events like the UN General Assembly and the G20 Summit. Getting the narrative right is key – and we spend hours perfecting them to ‘tell the story’ in the most engaging way possible.

Engagement is key

unicef-04Finally, we’re not just a broadcast channel. We carefully read through comments and, although we can’t respond to each one, try to sum up sentiment with a reply or two. We’re currently experimenting with Instagram Lives, Q&As with young people, and #InstagramTakeovers. Our first takeover with award-winning photographer, Ash Gilbertson profiled a refugee teenager he’d been photographing for over two years. We see interactive takeovers like this as a key way of driving deeper engagement.

Instagram is a constantly evolving feast for us – and as our audience grows, we’re always looking to try out new approaches to inspire action on children’s issues. To keep up to date, follow us on Instagram @UNICEF.