The top Instagram posts and trends from the 2016 presidential campaign

The big picture on big data about the election from mobile photo social network Instagram.

Images: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump | Instagram

The 2016 election has sparked the most mobile, connected campaigns in history. Both campaigns use social media vociferously, and how each campaign uses the social web is a reflection of the campaign's personality and strategic style. Trump fires multimedia missives about an assortment of topics, while the Clinton campaign creates vertical social media tailored to specific networks with careful precision.

This year has also arguably been the most photographed election in history. Technologically, the 2008 and 2012 campaigns were defined by the emergence of social media, primarily Facebook and Twitter. In 2016, for both presidential campaigns, Instagram is an indispensable tool.

And for good reason: the social network acquired in 2012 for $1 billion in 2012 by Facebook is growing rapidly. As of June 2016, Instagram had over 500 million monthly active users, 100 million more active monthly users than September, 2015. This puts the company ahead of prominent social networks like Twitter, 320 million monthly users, and LinkedIn, 100 million monthly users. Facebook has approximately 1.57 billion monthly users.

SEE: Not vetting your tech investments? You're setting fire to money (Tech Pro Research report)

Instagram recently improved its brand management and advertising brands. In September the company announced it had half a million advertisers, double what it had six months ago. An additional 1.5 million profiles had been converted to brands pages, giving companies access to marketing tools. These tools allow brands to target users based on Instagram profile and post information, mobile operating system, and Facebook profile data.

Instagram has been particularly useful for helping presidential campaigns create an emotional connection with users, said a company spokesperson. To get a better understanding of how the application was used during the 2016 campaign, Instagram monitored and tracked user interactions - likes, shares, comments - specifically related to the election and candidate profiles.

Instagram's key findings are based on the company's internal data going back to January 1st, 2016.

  • Since the beginning of the year, and through the primary season, Trump's and Clinton's total follower count has remained neck and neck. Trump had a narrow edge, growing by 1.9 million followers to Clinton's 1.8 million followers.
  • Clinton, however, has grabbed follower momentum. Since the first presidential debate on September 29th, 2016, Clinton added 220,000 Instagram followers, to Trump's 140,000 follower gain.
  • Clinton's contemplative photo, posted prior to the second presidential debate, is now the most-liked Instagram photo for either candidate.
  • The top ten #ImWithHer geotagged locations are:
    • New York, New York
    • The 2016 Democratic National Convention
    • Hillary Clinton Campaign Headquarters
    • Washington, DC
    • The White House
    • Los Angeles, California
    • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • United States, US
    • San Francisco, CA
  • The top ten #MakeAmericaGreatAgain geotagged locations are:
    • Trump Tower, New York
    • United States, US
    • The White House
    • New York, New York
    • Washington, DC
    • Trump International Hotel and Tower, Chicago
    • GOP Convention
    • Chicago, Illinois
    • Los Angeles, California
    • Trump International Hotel, Las Vegas

Read more