If 2019 is the year for anything, it’s probably the year that politicians everywhere adopted a new social media platform to dominate. We often speak about trends that we hope politicians will push throughout a campaign year. Back in 2016, we tipped live streaming via Twitter as the big thing to watch out for. We even became Meerkat and Periscope experts, but then....well, have you heard of Periscope since?
When you look back and examine what trends actually go beyond a prediction, you’d be surprised to see that most of them live and die in the blogs and news articles that birthed them. In the time I have been covering political campaigning and election cycles, I have noticed that many successful politicians don't stray too far from the rule book. Tried and tested methods are what works, why do you think door knocking has been around FOREVER?
Is A Change A Coming...
Saying all this, I can see a change on the horizon and you would want to be blind not to see it too.
Each month, millions of people log onto a platform known as Instagram. Once considered a haven for narcissistic, selfie-obsessed young people, Instagram has quickly transformed itself into a creative space where the potential for increasing branding and growing support is endless. Activism has found a place on the heavily visual medium and live streaming has all but been perfected by the Facebook owned platform.
Perfect Platform For Leaders
Instagram hasn’t been totally neglected by those in office, Donald Trump sits pretty with 12 million followers, Congress' rising star Alexandria Ocasio Cortez has nearly 3 million and new Democratic Presidential hopeful Beto O Rourke has been quoted as saying that “if it ain’t on Insta, it didn’t happen”. Far from being reduced to who has more followers than someone else, Instagram is one of the safest platforms out there at present if you do call yourself a politician.
The ability to create your own narrative is an important draw, you aren’t relying on re-tweets and likes to push your message to others. You can actually use Instagram to share the “other side” of political life and that’s why it has been a slow burner amongst many politicians. Remember Political types prefer the "tried and tested" method! Surprisingly, thanks to the investment of a few, many politicians are now seeing that being yourself on this platform is a lot easier than they first anticipated.
What It Offers
First things first, upload some photos that you want to share. These can be of work, family or your hobbies. The list is endless, if Instagram proves one thing, it shows that there is an audience out there for everyone.
If you decide you want to become a bit more sophisticated with how your photo grid looks or what 'vibe' you are trying to share, you can explore new layouts. A good tip is to choose a color and aesthetic that reflects your personality or even, your political party. What are the best colors that describe you? What is your niche? How will you use Instagram to communicate with your audience?
Every day, over 300 million people use Instagram Stories, the Snapchat-like feature that creates photo and video sequences that disappear 24 hours after being posted.
That’s good news for all the political types on the platform because, on average, one in five Stories gets a direct message. And this could potentially be a new voter or supporter!
“How do I take my first Instagram Story?”
Open the Instagram app and tap the camera icon in the top-left corner.
Select the format of your content at the bottom of the screen. You can create a TYPE, LIVE, NORMAL, BOOMERANG, SUPERZOOM, REWIND, HANDS-FREE, or STOP MOTION piece of video content.
Tap the white circle at the bottom of the screen to take a picture. Press and hold the white circle to take a video.
You can then add as much context as needed through the type tool before you post to your Stories feed.
Growing Your Community
If you are already a politician, the likelihood is that you will already have some kind of supporter base. The key now is to tap into this. Use your location, or position as an elected rep as starting point. Follow local businesses and as many of your supporters as you can think of.
You will soon see that many people will begin to follow you back, engage with these people through direct messaging, also be sure to share pictures of you out interacting with your supporters. Tagging yourself in at locations will also be a boost to others social media presence whilst also proving that you are intertwined with your community.
Hashtags are also great ways to connect with new groups and new activists who may not be aware of you yet. Beto O Rourke does this extremely well, as he is constantly active on Instagram.
FYI, IGTV is a standalone app that allows users to upload long-form, vertical video content that takes up the full screen. The idea is that there are different user “channels,” and like on television, something is constantly playing while you go from channel to channel.
Though it’s a standalone app, there is an integration with the main Instagram platform, and your followers on Instagram will be notified if you share new content on IGTV. This integration was just taken a step further, allowing users to share previews of their IGTV videos in the main Instagram newsfeed.
Since Instagram has higher engagement and viewing rates, this provides an effective way to drive more relevant traffic over to watch the rest of your content. Want to maximize the visibility of your content? You can share a one-minute preview of your IGTV video when you upload it. Users will clearly see the prompt to “Watch Full Video,” allowing them to click and be taken directly to the full content.
For more high level features and functionality on Instagram, check this article out, especially if you consider yourself and an "advanced Instagram" user.
Take the first steps to exploring Instagram today by setting up an account. It is definitely well-loved and won't be going anywhere anytime soon. Follow a few well known politicians who excel on the platform to get first hand knowledge about how they operate. Check out Alexandria Ocasio Cortez who keeps it real, Republican Nikki Haley who has found the perfect balance between home life and work and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar who shares lots of interesting takes on everyday news.