How Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Only Follow on Instagram Is Changing the Social Media Game
Michelle Figueroa was excited to disconnect during her recent vacation in Puerto Rico.
“I was like, ‘I’m turning off my phone. I’m going to be present in the moment,’ ” she tells PEOPLE.
But when the CNN en Español journalist powered back up, she found an unusual amount of notifications.
“I can’t even tell you who the message was from that I read, but it said, ‘Congrats on the prince following you!’ And I was like, ‘What prince?’ ” she says.
While Figueroa was taking a break from social media, her Good News Movement Instagram page became the sole account that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry followed on the social media platform. Keeping with their monthly tradition of changing up their follow list to feature worthy causes and organizations, the couple put their mark on Figueroa’s page.
“Happy New Year!” the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s post began. “For 2020 we will be continuing our tradition of highlighting accounts that inspire, and that remind us of all the good that is happening in the world. However, this time we will be focusing on just one account each month. For January, we would like to shine a spotlight on @goodnews_movement. This journalist run-page covers and celebrates acts of kindness and good news in our global community. We hope it brings you joy!”
Figueroa says she “wasn’t notified in advance” that Good News Movement would be featured — it “came as a pleasant surprise” — and she hasn’t heard from Meghan, Harry or their staff.
“I am immensely grateful they featured and followed me and sent them a thank you note,” she adds. “I respect their privacy as a family as they are plenty busy. Should our paths cross in the future, that would be terrific.”
Although Figueroa has no idea how Meghan, 38, and Harry, 35, heard of her page, she does count celebrities such as Kristen Bell, Jennifer Garner and Katie Couric among her followers. And while those stars certainly helped expand her reach, it wasn’t until she got the royal stamp of approval that her followers list climbed from around 185,000 to nearly 325,000.
“I’m hoping that they find in my platform something worthwhile and that people will enjoy,” she says.
Good News Movement started last year when Figueroa, who has worked as a network journalist for over a decade, was home sick due to a combination of the flu and an ear infection. So she took a “leap of faith” and started the page, which shares uplifting stories in both English and Spanish.
“I always gravitated towards the stories that show the good in the world,” she shares. “I thought it was important to reach people where they are, so if people are on their phones four hours a day, why not meet them where they are?”
She adds that social media provides a limitless space for good stories that don’t make a newscast or the newspaper, turning what can often be seen as a negative medium into a vehicle for positive social impact.
“There’s so many people that need help, and there’s so many people that want to help,” she says. “I found this platform as a way to connect those people and carry out acts of kindness. It’s really neat to use this platform for the positive.”
And the page is a team effort. “The word ‘movement’ is in the name because a lot of the followers play an active role. They send me their stories,” she explains. “Sometimes they film it themselves, sometimes they know about a neighbor or someone in the community they’d like to highlight. Every day I receive a lot of messages either with stories or people saying how much they appreciate positivity in the world with so much bad news.”
While Meghan and Harry start the next chapter in the life after stepping down from their roles as senior members of the royal family, Figueroa sees them as “genuinely kind people.”
“They’re people who are always looking for positive impact,” she says. “Hopefully they’ll be able to continue championing the causes that they believe in and that they find happiness in.”