Obama joined Instagram last week, coincidentally (strategically?) on the same day as the Iowa caucus, which had diligent reporters burning the midnight oil on Twitter. This marks an interesting move, considering it seems that if there is any demographic Obama doesn’t have to worry about, it’s the tech savvy Millennials. Still, recent reports could suggest that Obama’s bold strategy to engage with young voters isn’t completely unfounded.
Despite riding on the tails of his idealism in 2008, many hipsters and Millennials are sort of over the Obama hype. When he first burst onto the scene, Obama appealed to young voters because he was a brand. He was a celebrity politician worthy of gracing college students’ dorm walls and inspiring Obamagirls to vote for a good-looking, well-spoken guy. But since 2008, we’ve learned that even if the brand was enticing, the product is faulty. By joining Instagram, Obama is not only revealing his inner hipster, but also his concern about losing the favor of a once very loyal demographic. If the Millennials’ faith in Obama truly is slipping, whoever is looking to unseat him should be working on flexing his digital muscles.
With a Democrat as the incumbent in the coming presidential election, the Republican candidates are being presented with a unique and potent opportunity: kickstarting the first full-fledged run at Twitter campaigning. Almost any representative throughout the nation can be found on Twitter and Facebook these days, sending short blurbs and news stories into cyberspace. But the Republicans are in the middle of a heated race, and the Internet is listening, commenting, and amplifying content with little shame or filter. It’s time to stake a claim in the space.
From here on out, digital should be a major priority in campaign spending, for two perfectly enticing reasons: many social platforms are free to use and a great deal of political discussion and curation is occurring online. By just scrolling through the results for any relevant hashtag during a debate, anyone can see that the amount of consolidated information is outstanding. While the debates provide fodder for pitting Republicans against each other, the candidates shouldn’t dodge the opportunity they are being given to combine their strengths and fortify the Republican voice on the Internet landscape, while there are still six of them left. Obama, however, will be fending for himself and may have to compensate by expanding his social media reach in some unique ways. This summer, he became the first President to host a Twitter Town Hall. This time around, he’s taken to hipster-chic mobile apps to shake things up.
In reference to Instagram’s unofficial hashtag motto, a #NoFilter presidency has an interesting ring to it, but my best guess is that Obama won’t win for being a pretty picture anymore, even with an Instagram account. Hipsters might not be won over by the chance to bond with the Prez over well-lit Passion Pit concert pics and ironically colored landscapes, but Obama’s PR team has the right idea. An expanded social reach shows a willingness to engage with some disillusioned voters by connecting on their own digital turf. Now we’re just waiting for the J-Date profile.