This blog post was updated on June 29, 2020 to feature five additional Instagram accounts to follow.
Here at Rock Solid we are all about citizen engagement. Did you know Instagram for government is an effective way to communicate directly with citizens through images, videos, stories, and short snippets of text?
It is a wonderfully versatile platform. More and more governments are joining the 'gram train and are using Instagram to share and connect. Instagram allows you to increase transparency, raise awareness, take polls, share some of the day-to-day operations of government officials, and more. Citizens can like, share, and comment on the content they care about. It's useful, personable, and fun for everyone.
If you’re just getting started on Instagram, here are some quick tips:
- Balance business with fun.
- Include fun images and videos as well as important information about local or national issues.
- Link Instagram to Twitter and Facebook.
- Encourage Twitter and Facebook followers and friends to follow you on Instagram.
- Automatically publish your Instagram feed to Twitter and Facebook.
- Use popular local or government related #hashtags to gain visibility. Some examples:
- #localgov and #localgovernment - local government
- #egov - eGovernment (tech savvy, internet friendly government)
- Identify popular local hashtags that citizens use. For example, popular hashtags in Los Angeles include #LA, #losangeles, and #losángeles.
- Post stories and add story highlights to your profile.
- Instagram’s stories feature allows you to post photos or videos that, by default, will disappear after 24 hours. These interactive posts can be used to communicate timely information including news updates, traffic alerts, events, and more.
- Stories can also be added to your profile via highlights. Highlighted stories will not vanish automatically.
- Use this guide to Instagram stories to learn the ins and outs
- Follow your followers back.
- Like and share their content.
- Even leave comments, time permitting.
- Use Instagram support apps to drastically enhance your content.
The best way to become Instagram savvy is to learn from great examples. Here are 17 government Instagram accounts you should follow.
1. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti
Garcetti shares photos of the city, local establishments, and current events. Occasionally he includes more personal photos using the hashtag #tbt (Throwback Thursday).
2. The City of Monterey
Monterey posts images of its gorgeous town, both on ground and in the water. The folks who man this account really take advantage of the text you can include with each photo. They post about city projects, places to visit, fun facts, and award-winning attractions.
3. York Region
Located in Ontario, Canada, York Region joined Instagram in June, 2014 and has featured a wide variety of content. What's great about their Instagram is that they are experimenting with branding on images, holding Instagram contests, and posting videos like this one about pedestrian safety.
4. The City of Eastvale
On the City of Eastvale's Instagram, which has been active for almost a year now, you'll find weather updates, event flyers, lost dog notices, information about local businesses, occasional beautiful images of the sky, and more. Their posts are usually very specific and very helpful.
5. The City of Issaquah
Averaging at least a post a day, the City of Issaquah, WA is very active on Instagram. They often share seasonal and holiday specific images. Recurring themes include the gorgeous foliage and the Salmon they're known for. Issaquah's Instagram is friendly, fun, and inviting.
6. The City of Ballarat
The City of Ballarat, Australia is proud of its history. In addition to beautiful images of their city, they use the hashtag #wbw (Way Back Wednesday) and create hashtags of their own like #loveballaratinspring and #loveballaratinwinter.
7. The City of Sydney
The City of Sydney puts an emphasis on local events and local art, but also often posts images of the stunning cityscape.
8. The TSA
The TSA is on Instagram! There are a lot of travel tips and images of weapons discovered in carry-on luggage at airports around the U.S. They also feature TSA Explosives Detection Canines. (Cute! But they mean business.)
NASA is on Instagram too, with space related images and time-lapse videos of earth to boot. It's awe-inspiring. Definitely check it out.
10. The U.S. Department of the Interior
The U.S. Department of the Interior's mission is to protect the great outdoors. You find beautiful landscapes and rare animals on their Instagram.
11. THE City of Hallandale Beach
Hallandale Beach, Florida does a great job of using its Instagram to communicate important updates to citizens and visitors. Mixed in with fun posts about holidays and happenings, it’s a great follow for any resident.
12. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser
Bowser uses her account as a platform to keep citizens up-to-date with current initiatives. Photos are well-organized with recurring hashtags for each effort.
13. THE City of Vancouver
In Washington, the City of Vancouver is not afraid to bring the memes. These simple, fun images pop alongside community photos. They also reshare posts from other relevant accounts via stories.
For networking with local government peers around the country, look no further than the Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL) Instagram. They’re champions of the #CityHallSelfie, and regularly post valuable resources for anyone that works in government.
15. Parks and recreation
So it’s not exactly a government Instagram account, but the Parks and Rec insta is full of local government shenanigans! Relive your favorite #ParksAndRec moments and even see new photos and videos from the show’s stars.
16. THE City of Roanoke
Engage citizens by shouting out their achievements on social media. Roanoke, Virginia’s #StarCityShoutout series highlights citizens making a difference in the community. Take this as inspiration for creative ways to get people more involved, both in your town and with your agency.
17. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock
Hancock shares personal video messages regularly on his account to talk about important happenings in the city of Denver, answer citizen questions, and more. Some are even recorded in his home!
We hope this list has given you ample ideas and inspiration to create and improve your own Instagram account. Instagram is a valuable channel for citizen engagement because it’s part of citizens’ everyday lives. 81% of Americans own a smartphone, after all. And there are 107 million Instagram users in the US.
This social platform is a great way for local governments to get involved with citizens on mobile. But government mobile capabilities should go beyond Instagram. Are your citizens able to access your services from their device of choice? If your agency has room for mobile improvement, check out this guide to upgrading your city or county’s smartphone presence.
Did we miss some great accounts? Tell us about your activity with Instagram and we just might feature your work next time!