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WaterAid has increased its Instagram presence by 12,000 followers in just one week after entering a single Instagram video to the network’s ‘Weekend Hashtag Project’.

WaterAid’s team entered the 15 second Instagram video #WHPfromwhereiwalk featuring a woman in the remote fishing community of Brubeng, Ghana walking to collect unsafe water in Lake Volta. 

The unique film offers point-of-view footage that highlights what it’s like for the millions of women around the world who walk miles to collect water each day.

As of writing, since the video was uploaded on Instagram two weeks ago, WaterAid has achieved more than 22,000 followers, gaining roughly a thousand users per day. Before this WaterAid had only 3,800. 

Here's the footage...

Film producer for WaterAid, Catherine Feltham remarked on the success of the campaign. 

We have not only gained followers, but people are engaging more with WaterAid’s stories on the channel with likes and comments. When we spotted the brief we realised it was the perfect opportunity to be able to raise awareness of the challenging circumstances in which millions of women collect water each day around the world. I think this footage stood out as it was so different to the other entries. People do not expect to see women wading through a dirty lake to collect water in 2014, and yet the tragic reality is that 768m people still live without access to safe water.

WaterAid’s video was featured on Instagram’s blog and as a result of the competition, WaterAid became an Instagram ‘Suggested User’. The second time WaterAid has enjoyed this boost to its reach.

The first time was during World Water Day 2013, when Instagram re-grammed its post of the day, gaining almost 240,000 likes for the image and hundreds of new followers. 

WaterAid has been an Instagram user since 2011, offering dispatches from around the world to highlight its work and connect with those who may be able to help. WaterAid was one of the first to tell stories direct from the field in this manner using Instagram.

In September 2012, WaterAid used Instagram as a photo-diary to document its Big Dig campaign, where it changed the lives of 134,000 in Malawi by digging 34 new boreholes, 43 shallow wells and training 2,100 hygiene educators.

If you click through the entire campaign, it's a genuinely moving and inspiring account of the community's success.

WaterAid has posted consistently since then, roughly once a day, keeping the feed thoughtfully curated with strong images and deeply descriptive stories from its work. 

WaterAid uses hashtags where appropriate to tie-in with events around the world. This is a particularly affecting and surprisingly relevant post for #ValentinesDay

Obviously, WaterAid has adopted the new video functionality of Instagram with great success. Sometimes with a sense of humour…

…but always with a refreshing positivity. This is key to inspiring any social media users to follow non-profit organisations. Empowering them to realise that change does happen and good work does get done.

For World Water Day on 22 March 2014, WaterAid will be trialling something a bit different. Handing its feed over to American documentary photographer Mustafah Abdulaziz for a one week ‘takeover’, showcasing work that he shot in Pakistan.

Instagram will be the exclusive channel for this work, therefore encouraging even higher numbers of followers and spreading WaterAid’s reach even further. 

For more on non-for-profit campaigns, check out these seven inspiring examples of charity or non-profit marketing campaigns.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 12 March, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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