“It is the digital election,” cried the commentators. And lo, the politicians did dump their placards and rush off to set up Facebook and Twitter accounts.
“This is how we will get them, the youth,” they said to each earnestly at campaign meetings. But they forgot something. They forgot that the internet is more than two social networks.
Instagram, for example. It’s now one of the world’s most influential social networks, with more than 200 million users around the world. But although some British politicians have clocked on to the power of Instagram over the past few weeks and — in a hurried attempt to make something of it — have set up accounts and started to publish images, whether they have really learned the art of selling themselves is another question entirely
We decided we’d analyse whether any of the party leaders have boast-worthy Instagram game. (Spoiler alert: mostly no.)
Account status: Verified
Date of first image: 28 weeks ago
Analysis: Ed has by the far the best at Instagram of all the UK party leaders. This might be partly due to the fact he realised it existed about six months than any of the others. Still, 4,941 followers isn’t much to write home about.
Still, there’s a nice mix of content in there, including a couple of family photos, and he’s even been experimenting with filters and video. Good for you, Ed.
Account status: Not verified
Date of first image: 6 weeks ago
Analysis: Nick does not enjoy a square crop and has done everything in his power to avoid using it. We’d like to see more variety from the Deputy PM and some more off-duty shots that give us a better insight what he gets up to in his spare time. The shots of him hand feeding a seal and indulging in a little Go Ape suggest this account has potential. He could do with taking a leaf out of Ed’s book too and diversifying in terms of photographic subject. It’s not all about you, Nick.
Account status: Not verified (but real… we think).
Date of first image: 5 weeks ago
Analysis: Nigel suffers from the plight of the infamous celebrity villain — multiple spoof accounts (our favourite is @its_nigel_farage). We think we have identified the real Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) but when we called the UKIP press office to confirm they kept hanging up on us before we had a chance to ask.
As for Nigel’s efforts, we’re not keen on all the negative vibes he’s giving off. Instagram should be the place he tells the story of how idyllic Britain would be under a UKIP regime, but instead he’s mainly using it to snipe at his rivals. Not cool, Nige. You’re harshing our Instamellow.
Account status: Not verified
Date of first image: no posts yet
Analysis: Nicola really needs to post something before we analyse her Instagram game.
David Cameron, Leanne Wood and Natalie Bennett
None of these party leaders had Instagram accounts as far as we could tell, which is a shame as we can definitely think of use cases for all of them. We can imagine Leanne Wood regramming some beauty shots from @VisitWales and there are so many cool environmental things that Natalie Bennett could snap and show off.
As for Call Me Dave, we’re disappointed. Unlike Wood and Bennett, he definitely has the campaign budget to get some Instagramming going on, and he is being seriously shown up by other world leaders.
We asked Cameron’s colleague across the pond, Barack Obama (3.8m followers), if he had any Instagram tips for our incumbent PM. He just replied with this:
Sure, not every political couple can be as photogenic as the Obamas, but if any of the party leaders need evidence as to why they should be on Instagram, it can be summarised in this picture and the response it received. Time for Westminster’s social spin doctors to roll their sleeves up.