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Members Get Personal on Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Takano’s Tumblr account has hooked many followers with its “There Will Be Charts” theme.

While it’s common for members of Congress to post talking points on Twitter and videos of their floor speeches on YouTube, such social-media sites are quickly becoming just another cog in the political spin machine. But members are posting more personal touches — what they had for dinner, their dogs at play and other mainstays of the social-media diet — on platforms such as Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest.

“Members that are able to effectively use the newer platforms will have an advantage in the future,” said JD Chang, the founder of TrendPo, a startup that analyzes political figures by looking at news mentions and interactions on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and then ranks their relevancy. Although TrendPo does not currently evaluate Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest as part of its process, the firm is interested in doing so if “adaptation reaches a certain level of saturation” among members, according to Chang.

Instagram-ification

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has become a popular social-media platform where users can share their lives through pictures. The intended use is to take a cellphone picture, apply an artistic looking filter and then post it.

With more than 11,300 followers, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is by far the most popular member of Congress on Instagram. His RepKevinMcCarthy account shows him spending time with his family, going to sporting events and hanging out with celebrity friends. McCarthy also posts short video stories complete with photos and music. The California Republican manages his own account and frequently shares old memories on Throwback Thursdays, an Instagram tag users apply when posting pictures from their past.

McCarthy’s California colleague Darrell Issa doesn’t have as many followers (about 1,200), but he has made a name for himself by posting old pictures of his mug and “Friday Kitties” — cat memes that somehow tie into current policy issues.

“Many members of congress have gathered on Instagram this year and are really interested in learning more about the platform and how to best use it,” said Katie Harbath, Facebook’s manager of public policy and communications and a former digital strategist with the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Republican National Committee.

Facebook has responded by providing training sessions to help with best practices.

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