Should Candidates Use Instagram

Illustration of Beto O'Rourke with an Instagram filter

Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, a hot Democratic prospect for 2020, posted a video of a dental cleaning to his Instagram story yesterday, a make-it-stop moment that showed how different 2020 will be online.
  • Elizabeth Warren joked during an Instagram live video, filmed in her kitchen on New Year’s Eve, that she drinks "Michelob Ultra — the club soda of beers."
Instagram is the new fad for politicians trying to communicate with younger voters in an authentic way — but the more they use it, the lamer the content is going to get, Axios' Alexi McCammond writes.
  • Just being on the platform doesn't automatically give veteran politicians the same swag as Beto or AOC (Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose "Instagram feed is a master class in political brand building," per WIRED).
O'Rourke (age 46) and Ocasio-Cortez (29), who combined have over 2 million Instagram followers, made live-streaming a staples of their 2018 campaigns.
  • Appearing as an "unfiltered" version of yourself on social media is natural for a 29-year-old. It's not so natural for those who look like they could be your parents.
  • Hillary Clinton learned that the hard way in 2015 when she used Snapchat to tell her followers that she was "just chillin' in Cedar Rapids." She instantly became a meme.
How they use it: Ocasio-Cortez makes mac and cheese while talking about her progressive platform or addressing her critics.
  • O'Rourke goes to Whataburger or plays the air drums in his minivan while discussing politics.
  • People are drawn to their quotidian content because they've already bought into their personalities.
Everyone's experimenting:
  • Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, who's 66 and has almost 10,000 Instagram followers, has used the platform to talk directly to voters. Sen. Cory Booker, 49, tweeted last year that Brown has a "VERY good Instagram."
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (52), who has posted recipes before, baked a berry cobbler on New Year's Eve on Instagram.
  • A Reddit user wrote: "It’s worth it if we get to see Bernie fussily making goulash while yelling about the Post Office."
The bottom line: Just because it's live doesn't mean it's raw. Or good.



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