I haven’t been using Instagram very long. As a photographer, I never really saw the point. Until I started to use it. I have grown to love it. As have a number of MPs. Jacinda Ardern is on Instagram, as is Louise Upston, Julie Anne Genter and Nikki Kaye. The Labour Party has recently joined as well. There are no doubt a number of other MPs on there, but that is all I know about at the moment.
Firstly a bit of background about Instagram. Instagram is a photo sharing website. Think of it as a bit like Twitter, but only for photos. Like Twitter, Instagram makes strong use of hashtags. You will see images on Instagram with a large number of hashtags after them. In fact, some will only have hashtags. They allow you to group images together. As is to be expected with social media, animals play a large role. Two of the most popular hashtags are #dogsofinstagram and #catsofinstagram.
However the one that I want to talk about is one started by Simon O’Connor. I have blogged about Simon on Twitter here. Simon is the National Mp for Tamaki. He is a first term MP. His hashtag that I want to talk about is #100campaigndays. Before we look at the images from the hashtag, Simon started off his time on Instagram showing a bit of humour.
Simon is a few weeks into the hashtag. He is posting at least one image a day of his time on the campaign trail. Now obviously the images that an MP/Candidate posts from the campaign trail are going to be biased. But they still provide an interesting insight into what happens on the campaign trail. Many of the images are what you would expect as well. Staged photos of what Simon is up to.
But then some of them show a bit more humour, or insight into the more mundane aspects of the campaign.
Unlike so much on social media, that is done on the fly, with no coherent, long term theme, I like the fact that Simon is developing a coherent theme to what he is posting.
Most of the MPs on Instagram have relatively small followings, Julie Anne Genter 184, Simon O’Connor 101, Louise Upston 195, Jacinda Ardern 1593, Labour 93, so a lot of the exposure they get will be coming from sharing the content they produce to Facebook and Twitter. However, as they produce more images, their following should increase. At the same time Instagram offers a number of advantages over standard images on Twitter or Facebook. The range of filters available, along with the enforced square format, provide for visual variety.
As MPs move onto Instagram, even more so than with Twitter or Facebook, they need to make sure that they are producing content that people want to engage with, and that they make sure they are expanding their range of followers.Instagram is not a stand alone social network. It needs to be used in conjunction with the other networks they use. There is no point in spending time and effort only talking to a small group of people who already support you.