Politicians Connect Instantly With Instagram

PHOTO: President Barack Obama posted this Instagram picture on his account with the status, "Thank You".
Instagram/Barackobama

Want to fit in at the nation's capital? Get an Instagram.

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., chronicled his star-struck Inauguration 2013 moment with Beyonce and Jay-Z. Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, let loose a baby picture of himself and his brother. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg showed off a kiss with a dolphin.

The up-and-coming place to document these magic moments for American leaders is Instagram, the social media application that lets users add a filter to almost anything, and it's the new "in" thing in Washington.

More and more politicians are using the social media tool to post pictures of everything from photo opportunities with constituents to pictures of food.

"Social media tools like [Instagram] allow politicians to create news cycles where they couldn't before," Dave Karpf, an associate professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University, told ABC News. "Now that we have these additional media tools, that gatekeeping function works differently - it's changing the way [politicians] interact with existing supporters.

While some constituents get any insider-y feel from perusing their representatives' Instagram feeds, many politicians don't run their own Instagram accounts.

For New York City's Bloomberg, it's Deputy Press Secretary Julie Wood who actually represents Bloomberg on Instagram. She's snapped photos of normal scenes you'd find on any Instagram account - like the view outside City Hall - but she's also made an effort to highlight moments from Bloomberg's visits that the media can't cover and share with national audiences.

"During the Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, the mayor was doing a lot of visits that weren't necessarily open to the press," Wood told the New York Daily News last December, "but we posted them on Instagram so they could see what he's been up to, and also see the devastation and the need for a big recovery effort."

Social media sharing tools like email are so heavily used that they fall into the backdrop, according to Karpf. In comparison to email, relatively new tools like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are not as vita, Karpf added.

"Being able to share those photos and bypass the media [on Instagram] is great if you want your supporters to see images of you at your rally," Karpf said. "It's going to be less useful if you want to reach undecided voters. Those undecided voters are still relying on traditional media for the most part."

Politicians like President Obama and Bloomberg use Instagram to share photos in advance of electoral campaigns, but Karpf said it only plays a tiny role in actually gathering data that will be used for later political campaigns.

"It's a nice utility to getting images out to a public, not the public," Karpf said. "When it comes to the web in electoral campaigns, the people who you are going to be able to reach are the people who are already on your side."

For most politicians, it isn't one or the other. Many of the same politicians who use Instagram also have Twitter and Facebook accounts on which their staff share daily status updates or even pictures linking back to Instagram itself.

House Majority Whip McCarthy, for example, is an avid user of all three social mediums.

According to an aid to McCarthy, "Instagram provides yet another avenue of transparency for Americans to communicate with their elected representatives. It has the added benefit of individualizing this transparency to allow constituents to get to know their representatives on a personal level - not just as public figures."

The use of multiple social media platforms could be important in attracting different audiences such as the new millennial generation when it comes to a future election cycle.

A 2010 study by the Pew Center on Social Media and Young Adults found that nearly three quarters of those aged 12 to 29 used social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Read on for a glimpse of what some national and local politicians have posted on Instagram.

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama's Instagram HERE

Kevin McCarthy

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy's Instagram HERE

John Boehner

Speaker of the House John Boehner's Instagram HERE

Elizabeth Warren

Sen. Elizabeth Warren's Instagram HERE

Steny Hoyer

Rep. Steny Hoyer's Instagram HERE

John McCain

Sen. John McCain's Instagram HERE

Mike Bloomberg

Mayor Mike Bloomberg's Instagram HERE

Rahm Emanuel

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Instagram HERE

Cory Booker

Mayor Cory Booker's Instagram HERE

Mario Diaz-Balart

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart's Instagram HERE

Jilian Fama Contributed To This Report

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