Soon after Instagram launched in October 2010, celebrities, actors and athletes jumped on the bandwagon in full force, taking #selfies, using the cool filters and blowing up everyone’s feeds with their glamorous lifestyles.
Since one could argue that Instagram is a bit more narcissistic and self-involved than the other social networks, it is puzzling why politicians and government officials have been such late adopters.
Facebook is aiming to change this and expand the use of Instagram by political campaigns – right before the 2014 midterm elections.
Last week they announced that they are looking for a Political Outreach Manager who will “execute relationships with governments, politicians and political influencers on how to best use Instagram.”
This is a huge deal for Facebook’s photo and video sharing acquisition, which employs less than 30 staff members.
The position rose out of the need for more engagement on government and political accounts. Many U.S. politicians have Instagram accounts, but how well they use them is a different matter.
Instagram usage and active engagement by politicians is certainly lacking behind Twitter, where high-profile politicians often have thousands of followers and many retweets and mentions.
Here are my top pieces of advice for politicians and governments who want to use Instagram effectively:
1. Chose one filter and stick with it.
This makes for a much smoother Instagram feed, and will help you stand apart if used consistently.
2. Take some time to learn how to take a great Instagram photo.
Unusual angles, different lighting and a unique perspective are all characteristics of viral Instagram shots. Head-on, professional-posed and clearly staged photos are not.
3. Highlight your supporters, not just yourself.
With their permission, post photos of your supporters doing what they do – working in restaurants, taking care of children, policing the streets. Add a short caption describing who they are and why they support you.
4. Post photos of you and your team on the road.
Photos of politicians at big rallies, at small diners, kissing babies – as long as it isn’t staged and phony-looking, these action shots are Instagram gold.
5. Showcase your private life.
Instagram followers want a glimpse into your private life – they don’t just want the same photos they are already seeing in the local or national newspapers. Be personal, show a quiet moment with family or an intense meeting with campaign volunteers. The key is transparency and authenticity.
6. Demonstrate advocacy on an issue.
Your supports and constituents want to see you working for them. Post photos of meetings with other politicians and influential government leaders.
7. Use hashtags strategically and wisely.
Do not jump on the most popular hashtag and use it repeatedly – that’s spam. Use hashtags that make sense to your followers and your supporters.
Do your research, see what others are using and add them sparingly.
8. Get comfortable with posting photos first, then develop a strategy for videos.
Instagram videos have become a hugely popular addition to the site, but most are blurry, unclear and indecipherable. When using video on the political stage, there needs to be more preparation and planning than just sneaking a snapshot. Work on getting into a groove with the photos first, then delve into the 15 second videos.
9. Have fun!
Post a photo of you at your high school prom for #ThrowbackThursday. Keep it light and go off topic once in a while.
Do you have other words of wisdom for politicians and government officials on Instagram?
Photo by CagleCartoons.com