Socializing but not politicizing: Instagram & The Election Susannah Bane, Jenna Gregory, and Michael Placanica

Research Questions

  1. How do the supporters and candidates convey themselves and their ideologies on Instagram? For example, are their posts more aggressive or supportive? Do the candidates actively use Instagram to rally support? How do the candidates express themselves on Instagram versus Twitter?
  2. Is Instagram used frequently as a tool to keep up to date with the lives of politicians? Or is it used solely as a social platform? Do people use election hashtags to rally support and convey their message?

How much was Instagram used by each candidates?

The number of followers increased before and after the election with the greatest increase being the around the election. After the election, Trump's followers increased more than Hillary's more than likely since he was voted in as President.
Both candidates posted more than usual before and on election day. On average, Donald Trump posted more frequently. Understandably, he posted more after election day than Hillary Clinton.

How popular were their posts?

How Were They Conveying Their Message?

The scaled language score for each candidate was fairly comparable throughout the data collection.
On the left, is a word cloud made from Hillary's Instagram captions from 11/2-11/12. Her most used words were "President", "Hillary", and "she's". In comparison, on the right are the tweets from 11/2-11/12. Her twitter mentions Donald Trump more often as well as "vote" and "America."
The left photo is a word cloud made from Donald Trump's Instagram posts from 11/2-11/12. The right is a word cloud made from his tweets during the same time period. Both of his greatest used words on both platforms were "thank", "great", and "will." His twitter focused more on Clinton and the swing states than his Instagram.
Here is a word cloud made up of Trump's hashtags he used from 11/2-11/12 in his posts. The most popular hashtags were #VOTE, #MAGA, and #TrumpPence16. While Trump uses many hashtags to gain the support of voters and to get his message out, Hillary never used hashtags on her posts.


As the election approached, the use of each candidates major hashtag increased steadily. The day of the election the use of #ImWithHer increased rapidly more than likely since people believed she was going to win. After the election, the use of #ImWithHer and #MakeAmericaGreatAgain dwindled since they were used as campaign tools during the election to gain voters.
The #MakeAmericaGreatAgain had the highest level of negative rhetoric based on an analysis of the top 8 posts
The left photo was the top #MakeAmericaGreatAgain post for November 7, while the right photo is a top #imwithher post that also features a celebrity supporting Hillary Clinton.

Instagram Usage Among Peers

As of November 6, those survey reported that, on average, 2.33% of those they followed also followed Clinton and 1.53% followed Trump. As of November 30, 3.35% followed Clinton and 3.19% followed Trump.
Anne Hathaway: 6.8M//Kendall Jenner: 69.6M//Katy Perry: 59M//Jesse James: 469K


  • Celebrities & candidates did use Instagram during election season but it seems to have been an ineffective way to convey clear political platforms or sway voters.
  • After election day, the number of Donald Trump's followers & the percentage of people peers follow following the candidates has increased significantly.
  • Surprisingly, despite his Twitter activity, Trump did not have particularly negative captions or incendiary remarks.
  • The #ImWithHer dramatically increased in the days leading up to the election showing that Clinton supporters took to Instagram to rally voters. Many celebrities also used Instagram to share their political views with followers.
  • Both candidates posted more than normal in the last two days before Election Day showing that they did try to use Instagram as a tool to connect with voters.

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