The influence of social medias on the elections: the French elections of 2012

On the sixth of Mai 2012, around 8 pm. , we will know the name of the next French president. Which influence social medias are going to have on this choice?

We all remember the election of Barack Obama in 2008. It was a revolution for some reasons. But one is related to the social medias. Barack Obama is the first president who has used Internet and social medias for his campaign. It is an example for everyone. Now Barack Obama has 22 millions fans on Facebook and 9 millions on Twitter. In April, Barack Obama announced first his candidature on his personal website

What was the place of Internet and social medias in the last French presidential elections ? In 2002, there were basically no Internet campaign and Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist yet. In 2007, Internet and social medias weren’t really used. The only one who had a numeric campaign was the socialist Ségolène Royal. She created the « Segosphere », a participating platform : members could participate to the content of her program, but it was not serious enough, it was too much improvised. Nicolas Sarkozy is on Twitter since 2009.

The candidates to the French elections are not digital natives, they are from the galaxy of Gutenberg, as says Christian Paul, a French Deputy. The adaptation to new technologies is sometimes difficult for the candidates: just look at François Bayrou who tries to tweet (start at 13′). After his discourse in office, he doesn’t answer the questions journalists ask to himself, but questions of tweeter users. He says “I have always been familiar to Internet, for the first day, yet before Internet arrives”.  This sequence shows us that French politicians now look seriously at social medias.

Why? Because since 2007, things have changed in France : from thousands users, Twitter has more than 3 millions users. And Facebook comes from 700’000 to more than 21 millions users nowadays. In this way, social medias can not be ignored. According to a survey, there are three main uses of social medias:

  1. influence : promotion of member’s activity, situation of the conversations, diffusion of information.
  2. collaboration: members, groups of interest, spaces…
  3. coordination: events, supports, political activism.

Furthermore, they allow one to one communication for a minimal cost and politicians can update their diary in real time: politicians seem to be closer to their people.

Youtube has created a channel especially for the French elections of 2012, with the AFP, CFJ and Twitter. Politicians are interviewed on this channel.  Look at the interview of François Hollande, the socialist candidate.

However, how can we evaluate the influence of social medias on the French elections of 2012? Image & Stratégie, a communication agency, has created a website, that is a barometer of the e-reputation of the candidates to the French elections of 2012. How do they do this measure? They look at the searches of the candidates’ names on Google, Dailymotion, Youtube, Facebook and Twitter. On the 13 of December, Nicolas Sarkozy is outstanding leading the e-reputation with 52%. But in the opinion poll, he is beaten by François Hollande, whom e-reputation is only at 11%. How can you explain that?

Bruno Fuchs, the president of Image & Strategy, says that “the presence of the candidates on Internet will be one of the political issue for 2012. Soon, public will search informations, videos of the candidates to form an opinion on them, read and make comments on the actuality”.

From the point of view of Olivier Cimelière, a professional communicator, “it is not the ability of the tool to mobilize people that will lead to the victory, but the consistence of a political project and the ability to converse with people“.

Which influence will have social medias on the French elections of 2012? What do you think?

Will we first learn the name of the next president on Twitter?  Will the next president make his investiture’s discourse first on television or on social media?

  1. Elections présidentielles 2012: Revivez le 6 mai sur le Web ! « AJM Students' Blog

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