Greta Thunberg’s Climate Activism on Instagram One Year On

The last time we talked about Greta Thunberg, she was an up-and-coming Gen Z activist who was using Instagram to her immense advantage. She rose to prominence in August 2018 for starting the first school strike for the climate outside the Swedish Parliament Building and garnered close to 1M followers in 7 months. 

She is now in the 49th week of her strike. 

Almost a year on, she has met with the Pope, Obama, Arnold Schwarzenegger and many other change & policymakers. She has spoken at the French Parliament, the British Parliament, the Australian World Summit, and is set to attend COP25. She has walked the red carpet, been published in The Guardian, appeared in the Times alongside Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, featured in the opening song on the 1975’s latest album, travelled the world to spread the fervour of our climate emergency, and so much more. Greta Thunberg is a superstar. 

Let’s revisit the platform that allowed all this to unfold. Instagram allowed Greta to reach many people in the infancy of her activism and many more today – everyday she is influencing, educating, and impacting at least 2 million. It has become both her stage and her mouthpiece to raise awareness about the climate. It was Instagram that allowed her to capture and archive her first school strike for the climate, which caught the attention of so many that at the time did not know who she was but aligned with her cause. 

Greta is now followed by a number of high-profile celebrities and politicians including Shawn Mendes, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellie Goulding, Ellen Page, Ocasio, Lil Dicky (rapper and parody artist who has also spoken about the climate) and many others. 

Her audience growth, while no longer at 200%, still averages a steady & impressive 21.14%. She has gained an average of 82.8K followers every week for the last 4 months, which is immense for an activist account with 2.3M followers already. 

Even celebrities and influencers who post sponsored content find it difficult to continually push their follower growth with little to no drops. Greta has outdone everyone with pure, unfiltered, relevant content. 

In terms of country distribution, the percentages have not changed too drastically since our previous look. What is important to note, however, is that she has gained audiences in Asia (even though they are still small). 

For example, 0.15% of her audience is from Singapore which amounts to about 3,450 people. This is a significant number for such a small country and if you think about it, it is actually equal to the typical audience-size of a nano-influencer in Singapore. 

Greta’s top-performing posts on Instagram are very powerful. The portrait image of her and Obama, in black and white, positions two respected world leaders in conversation. Despite their differences in age, experience, and stature, placing both of them in a single still is telling of how desperately we need to work together to ensure we have a future. 

Following closely is her coverage of the Paris teargas incident, her cover of TIME, and the announcement of her attendance at the UN Climate Summit in New York and COP25 in Santiago de Chile. These four posts garnered a 26.4% engagement rate on average. This is 5.5 times the average engagement rate for influencers in Sweden with over 1M followers. 

Despite how far she’s come in the past 11 months, Greta’s strongest online collaborations remain with @fridaysforfuture. Her three best-performing hashtags are also the ones that she started out with: 

Popular Chips

Greta started the ball rolling, stuck to it, and the world has followed. 

This month, Greta will sail emission-free over the Atlantic Ocean courtesy of Yacht Club de Monaco to attend the UN climate summits, and we cannot wait to see what she achieves there. 

“If you look through history, all the big changes in society have been started by people at the grassroots level. People like you and me.”

— Greta Thunberg

To read more about what Gen Zs are doing for the climate in terms of fashion, click here

Written by Deesha Menon

Influencer Marketing at Popular Chips. Interested in social issues, narratives, books, social media, and machine learning.


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