How to win votes and influence Instagram

Susannah Butter
Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron: @theresamay

The right picture posted on Instagram is worth a thousand door knocks.

The Conservative Party has realised that the greatest influence comes from Instagram. Kim Kardashian has more sway over young audiences than Philip Hammond, after all.

“Would you like your staff to produce creative posts without appearing stilted and attracting ridicule?” asks an email sent to MPs offering them the chance to go on a £420 Instagram course and claim it on expenses. We know that budgets are tight, so if they want to make savings, here is what they need to know.

Make alliances

In a shrewd move, Theresa May is learning the power of the tag. One of her most-liked posts shows her with @emmanuelmacron celebrating their entente cordiale.

When you’re tagged in a photo, people will click through to you, and if you’re a tagger, others will tag back. May is following Selena Gomez’s lead. She befriends influencers, and duly they tag her back. Start with your circle. Gomez has Taylor Swift to tag. Gavin Williamson has Boris Johnson.

For the many, not the few

Selfies with universally loved figures lead to instant likes. As do selfies with small, furry creatures. This rule transcends party lines. Instagram influencer Jacob Rees- Mogg, who is moderately more insta successful than his fellow MPs, amassed valuable likes by posing with “everyone’s favourite socialist”, Labour MP Jess Philips.

@conservatives

Enlist your family

The younger generation is the future. Rees-Mogg gets mileage out of snaps of his children (fortunately he has many to choose from). They dress up and paint their faces to look as scary as their father (his words) and recite Alfred the Great — blissfully unaware that their antics are cementing Rees-Mogg’s position.

Be selfie-savvy

Even if you precede it with a hashtag, being at the symposium on fisheries is not worth an Insta boast.

@borisjohnsonmp

Don’t be needy

Instagram isn’t the place to make a plea about why voting for you is important to families. When people are scrolling through for something to make them laugh or inspired, your attempt to start a debate about tax-free personal allowances will jar. Save your policy debates for the Tory WhatsApp group

Clever messages

No one wants to see your weekend wallpapering sesh (Gavin Williamson) or your #RoadtoBrexit briefing documents (Boris Johnson), even if they have a flattering filter applied. Save your energy for when you really have something to show off — like sunset over Downing Street when you are finally elected on a groundswell of populism, carefully mobilised on social media.