Obama campaign joins hipster photo site Instagram

Instagram allows users to apply filters to, and instantly share, their photos

Burnishing his credentials as a social media pioneer once again, President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign is has joined the up-and-coming Instagram photo-sharing service popular with young technology-savvy users.

Instagram allows users to easily apply quirky visual filters to photographs and then instantly share those photographs on social media sites. It is available for free for iPhone and iPad.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, where celebrities and political officials have a strong presence, the Instagram service is primary used by teens, photographers and artists. A few media, retail and corporate users are among the service's most followed, including MTV, NPR, Burberry and  Square founder Jack Dorsey, according to a June 2011 article in Mashable. Mashable said it was provided exclusive access to Instagram’s list of most-followed users.

Obama, who generally has been a strong proponent of social media, appears to be one of the first elected officials with an account on Instagram. Obama on Jan. 2 was ranked first in social media fans among the 2012 presidential candidates on Facebook, with 24 million fans, according to an infographic by SocialBakers.com. In second place was Mitt Romney, with 1.3 million.

The @barackobama Instagram account had gained about 18,000 followers and published two photographs as of Jan. 4.

The Obama 2012 staff, which manages the Instagram account, is asking supporters to share their Instagram photos from the campaign trail with the tag #obama2012.

“We’re excited to welcome President Barack Obama to Instagram!” the company announced in a blog post on Jan. 3. “We look forward to seeing how President Obama uses Instagram to give folks a visual sense of what happens in the everyday life of the President of the United States.”

The company said that political coverage on Instagram is increasing, with several news organizations including NBC News, ABC World News and the Washington Post sharing behind-the-scenes photographs from political events.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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