A Potential New (Old) Social Media Outlet for Politicians

Barack Obama’s most recent Instagram photo

Within the last year, several politicians and political candidates used Instagram as a part of their social media strategy. With more than 100 million users and counting, Instagram has been an outstanding outlet for politicians to brand themselves and connect with their constituents. 

In an attempt to monazite Instagram, the online photo sharing and social networking site recently released new terms of use in which it stated that “[users] agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you. The new terms of use are slated to go into effect on January 16, 2013.

Many Instagram users panicked at the thought of their photos being used without their permission. Thousands of users announced that they were removing their photos and leaving Instagram prior to the effective date of the new terms.

This note — from Jonathan Henderson, @JonHeno — sums up much of the sentiment seen on other social networks today. 

A letter to Instagram from social media user Jonathan Henderson

While the word “Instagram” was trending nationally on Twitter today for several hours, a less popular photo sharing site’s name also showed up in the top-ten feed of nationally trending topics — Flickr

Flickr’s iOS interface

The Yahoo!-owned social media site touts 51 million registered users and those numbers might be growing rapidly as a result of the recent exodus we’re currently seeing from Instagram. Flickr has many of the same features found on Instagram. E.g., its newest mobile apps allow users to apply filters to photos. Although Flickr has a smaller user-base, its terms of use might be viewed as more favorable than Instagram’s.  

The public response to the new terms didn’t go unnoticed. Instagram replied to worried users with this announcement where it said it would revise its terms of use.

What will the ultimate impact of this series of events be on Instagram? My guess is that Instagram will continue to go forward and grow its users. With that said, Flickr seems to have been the big winner of this and will certainly acquire new users, many of whom are vocal opinion leaders in the coming days and weeks.

So, what does all this this mean to a politician? First, there are many benefits a politician has of using and developing a strong social presence on a photo sharing site given the large number of individuals who use them. Second, Instagram is not that only site a politician should consider having a presence on. For those considering exploring a location to share photos, Flickr should be considered. Finally, photo sharing sites are showing a bit of uncertainty. It will be important for a savvy social media manager/politician to watch trends and adapt with change.

Sterling Morris
PoliticIt provides It Scores on political races. An It Score measures a politician’s digital influence. It Scores have correctly predicted more than 700 election outcomes in 2012 with 87% accuracy indicating that digital influence seems to correlate with election results. PoliticIt will release Politicit Candidate — software that will enable politicians to access their daily It Score and monitor their digital influence. Contact Sterling at Sterling@PoliticIt.com to become a beta tester of PoliticIt Candidate. 

Sterling Morris is a co-founder at PoliticIt. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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