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Members Get Personal on Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest

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Takano’s Tumblr account has hooked many followers with its “There Will Be Charts” theme.

Harbath advises members to “be creative with content and be responsive to what works and doesn’t work. ... Show constituents what it’s like to be the congressman or congresswoman and that doesn’t just mean in their official capacity but also in their family life and some of their favorite hobbies. We really recommend that they look at not only sharing those behind-the-scenes videos of when they’re doing events or when they’re doing a speech. Don’t show a picture of the member at the podium; show a picture of what the member is seeing out in the crowd.”

I’ll Tumblr for You

Freshman Rep. Mark Takano’s Tumblr account has hooked many followers with its “There Will Be Charts” theme at repmarktakano.tumblr.com. The California Democrat plays off the floor charts used by members on the House and Senate floors to express himself.

Takano also cross-cuts different social-media platforms by posting various content from members such as tweets and quotes and using it to engage in conversation. Although staffers contribute greatly to Takano’s Tumblr, the lawmaker approves everything that is posted and often pitches his own ideas.

He also solicits ideas; his Tumblr’s submissions page states, “Original, informative and funny submissions about Politics and/or the Inland Empire will be considered.”

Florida GOP Rep. Trey Radel is another freshman who embraced Tumblr, but he has largely abandoned it in the wake of his November arrest for cocaine possession. Before that, Radel, an enthusiastic user of Twitter pre-arrest as well, used memes and GIFs effectively to communicate his political sentiments as well as his colorful personality. Whether he returns to reptreyradel.tumblr.com is an open question.


A virtual pinboard of sorts, Pinterest allows users to create and manage collections of images in different categories that express their interests and hobbies.

Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., maintains a fairly broad and comprehensive Pinterest board for his 100-plus followers at pinterest.com/repfinchertn08, pinning pictures of constituents who visit his office, facts of the day, legislation he supports and opposes, personal quotes and constituent services.

One trend that is growing among congressional Pinterest boards is highlighting cities within the district and linking pins to resources. Fincher does this by highlighting food, monuments, attractions and people in his district, as well as suggestions of some of the sites. He also has interns contribute to the board by making pins about themselves.

“Our office particularly loves Pinterest because it allows Congressman Fincher to show off his district on an ‘evergreen’ platform. ... We also use Pinterest to give content from our other platforms a ‘second life’ of sorts, creating new momentum for the message the moment it is pinned,” said Elizabeth Lauten, Fincher’s communications director.

Retiring Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., was inspired by her daughters to create a Pinterest account, pinterest.com/michelebachmann. She uses the site to highlight destinations in her state, quotes that inspire her, highlights of her accomplishments, her family pictures and favorite recipes. She also illustrates her passion about adoption and foster care by sharing information, stories and events.

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