Why I built an Instagram-based service

Photo by  Michael Hsieh

Photo by Michael Hsieh

From trespassing rooftops to standing on chairs, Instagrammers can go to some lengths ‘for the gram. We’re an interesting bunch, we hold instameets which are essentially photowalks where we meet up offline to take photos together. #communityfirst is tagged in over 133K posts and #afriendbygram at over 1.7K posts. Instagram has grown beyond just a mobile app, it’s a community, a family.

Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of becoming increasingly involved in the Instagram community. This talented group of individuals has challenged me artistically, creatively and have made a range of new adventures possible.

Last week, I launched Gramforacause to enable this community to give back and create change with their talents. Here’s why I chose to build the service off of Instagram:

Instagrammers are passionate, rain (snow) or shine

In December, I held my first instameet, a holiday toy drive in spirit of the holiday season. It was a small group of 30, but everyone was so enthusiastic about giving back that many people brought multiple toys to donate. We ended up filling the entire The Wildlife Conservation Society toy drive bin in Central Park.

This was such a blast, that I teamed up with two friends @tsetan_c, @michaelhsieh0203 and Mashable to host a Valentine’s Day themed meet at Liberty State Park. Despite sub-freezing temperatures and a heavy blanket of snow on the ground, we gathered a solid turnout of over 100 Instagrammers.

From holding these two meets I learned that weather and distance doesn’t deter most Instagrammers. They love taking photos, meeting with fellow Instagram enthusiasts and are willing to come together even when it’s less than convenient.

It’s changing up the advertising game

It’s become an increasingly popular form of advertising for brands to pay big Instagram influencers to post a photo on their account. Mobile Media Lab says that represented Instagram users who have more than 100,000 followers can earn $700 to $900 per photo. If that’s where the advertising trend is moving, imagine leveraging this reach for social good!

Charity Water did a fantastic job recently with their #WWDinstameet for World Water Day, rallying up thousands of attendees across the world. One of their partnering organizations, Socality raised over $12,000 towards the cause.

There are a few nonprofits with strong Instagram presence, but it’s still a fairly untapped resource. I’m hoping Gramforacause can work with nonprofits to inspire new campaigns that leverage the influence of the Instagram community.

Instagrammers are all about taking the online community offline

Last but not least, Instagrammers are already experts at taking online community offline. With hashtags like #discoveraround and #communityfirst, they’re always on the lookout for opportunities to come together and meet new people.

I feel very fortunate to have a group of early Gramforacause adopters who are as passionate about the project as I am. I sent them a survey to learn more about why they use Gramforacause and what else they’d like to see. 42% of users replied saying that they want to learn about new causes and how to get involved.

It’s this spirit that first inspired the Gramforacause project and will continue to drive me as our user base grows.

Follow us on Instagram and Twitter to keep up to date with our growing community!


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