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    Instagram Users Are Actually Really Nice To Ed Miliband

    It turns out that posting adorable photos of your family on Instagram is a pretty good way of winning the hearts of British voters. Although it's still a pretty niche audience.

    It's finally happened. There's an area of the internet that has welcomed Ed Miliband: Instagram.

    He doesn't have a massive audience – only 2,500 people follow @Ed_Miliband on Instagram, compared to 380,000 on Twitter and 69,000 likes on Facebook – but he's good at it.

    That's because Instagram is different. While Twitter is packed with political nerds – journalists, MPs, campaigners, and activists – Instagram has a slightly younger audience drawn from wider backgrounds.

    Twitter users, especially the more politically oriented, use the platform to share links to articles they agree with, argue with columnists whose opinions they despise, and criticise opinions that don't quite match their own.

    Meanwhile, people have Instagram accounts to show off the best part of their day (and boast about how wonderful their life is). Not many use it to follow people or brands in order to leave a nasty comment.

    Miliband probably deserves a bit of a break, since he doesn't always get the friendliest welcome online.

    Look what happens when you google his name:

    The problem with social networks is that people tend to latch on to and remember awkward moments on Twitter and, more importantly, Facebook. An image gets posted on to a timeline, gets shared a couple of dozen times, and within an hour, hundreds of thousands of people have seen it and it becomes a meme.

    That can be the best-case scenario – often the response is just abuse.

    Take Twitter, for example. This is a typical reaction that Ed gets to serious points:

    But Instagram is different. People on Instagram respond positively – and he's actually quite good at it.

    Example 1: This adorable family photo.

    Miliband posted a picture of himself with his family when talking about paternity leave. Instagram users actually complimented him – something almost unknown on political Twitter.

    Instagram is particularly effective because it's just so visual – it's based entirely around photos and videos.

    Example 2: People getting excited that they've been featured on his page and that Miliband has seemingly replied to them.

    "OMG that's me".

    Example 3: Voters from an event Miliband spoke at telling him they feel more "hopeful" after he explained a policy.

    Example 4: People thanking him personally for taking the time to update them about a debate in parliament.

    But the welcoming environment doesn't come without its drawbacks. It's difficult to gain followers.

    It's much harder to gain a following on Instagram than on Facebook and Twitter, which explains the low number of people following him. One reason is that users typically have to search out users they want to follow. That's different from Facebook, where you can share a status, or Twitter, where retweets are common.

    There's also less "hate-following", because you don't want to be scrolling through photos on your morning commute and see an image of a politician you hate. (That's not to say hate-following doesn't exist, it's just that the typical user is less likely to follow someone to specifically leave an angry comment underneath a picture.)

    But that contributes to making it a friendlier environment. It helps that Instagram is far more difficult to search than other platforms, too. If you search Ed Miliband on Twitter, you'll be confronted by lots of angry commenters, but you don't see lots of images mocking him if you search his name on Instagram.

    Instagram also feels more personal. Miliband's stream feels like it could be him. Of course, it's someone from Labour HQ who runs the account, but he occasionally does get involved in responding to comments. That contributes to a less hostile environment.

    That's not to say there are no negative responses.

    But more often than not, the negative comments are slightly longer, and typically more reasoned. Voters complain about the mansion tax, or that he gives speeches without delivering a new policy.

    Arguably, the people who follow him on Instagram are the same who would be invited to one of his weekly "People's Question Time" events: potential Labour voters who have concerns. And that's the sort of people who message him.

    That's not a bad thing, and actually, it's probably exactly the audience his digital team wants to attract.