‘Pics or it Didn’t Happen’: 5 Ways Politicians Are Using Instagram

Not just wildly popular for ‘rich kids’ or hipsters, Instagram and its 40 million-user following, is an up and comer for social media use in politics. Here are 5 creative ways politicians are using Instagram:

  1. Promotion: Politicians are making use of instagram’s artsy nature to promote their campaign through photos of their rallies and media outings in real time. They also make use of the app’s filters to post art-like photos of their campaign logo or slogan in an attempt to mimick the cult following of visuals such as President Obama’s 2008 ‘Yes We Can’ logo.
  2. Transparency: Possibly the most effective use by politicians for Instagram is by illustrating their latest project at work. Politicians attempt to dispell their negative conception of productivity through posting photos of them working or engaging with citizens or other colleagues. (Note: IVN brownie points for any photos demonstrating bipartisanship). Obama’s social media team (@barackobama) posts a stack of papers with the caption: “Canvass packets for the weekend of action: the kind of paperwork that @OFA_NH volunteers like. #Obama2012”. 
  3. Humanization: Instagram also allows politicians to tell the world “Hey! I’m a person too- I get haircuts and appreciate the small things in life!”. Newt Gingrich’s wife, Callista Gingrich, who goes by just Cally on Instagram (@callygingrich), posts pictures of her and her family on a more intimate level with posts like “Girls Weekend 2012”Warning: Although pictures of brunch with your baby niece may be somewhat endearing and cute, beware of posting photos illustrating your lavish lifestyle. You may teeter into the unwanted territory of rivaling the obnoxious Instagram photos posted on the satirical tumblr ‘rich kids of instagram’.
  4. Engagement: Posting pictures of voters supporting your campaign is not only a form of promotion, but it also shows appreciation for their loyalty. It is Instagram’s version of a well used ‘shoutout’. Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) posts a photo of an ecstatic looking family holding up a banner that says “Romney + Ryan Rock! Go Mitt!”
  5. Vision: Taking full advantage of the artistic possibilities Instagram offers, politicians can use the app to post inspiring photos of what could be or what they plan on working on. Non-profits like Oceana (@Oceana) dedicate more of their profile photos to breathtaking pictures of the ocean, falling in line with their efforts to push for its more ecological treatment.