The battle to be won: the Presidential Elections 2.0

As we know, social networks are at the heart of the candidate’s communication strategies for the presidential elections. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat… the challenge: to free yourself from the media while expanding your audience and capturing young voters. For politicians, social networks are the battleground for victory… Commentaries!

Digital activism

If digital technology allows candidates to send messages to their sympathisers or to rally the undecided, it is also a way for politicians to get people talking about them. “Compared to 2012, politicians are taking a greater multi-channel approach; they no longer use only one social network as was the case five years ago with Twitter”, says Alexandre Eyries, teacher-researcher in Information and Communications at the University of Bourgogne Franche-Comté. The digital campaign for the 2017 presidential election has become more professional. Some parties have employed start-ups that specialise in these subjects, such as the companies Liegey, Muller and Pons that work for PS and En Marche! Today, all the candidate’s digital teams currently enjoy renewed legitimacy within the campaign teams. During the debates, the candidate’s teams rally as if they were in a newsroom. Everything is prepared; the main messages of the candidate are preformed with supporting visuals, the same as those whose job it is to counter the opponent. Communication on the social networks is orchestrated almost from A to Z in order to accompany the candidates’ speeches. This programming is permanent and expresses itself at every news event.

Mélenchon, YouTube champion

Though Marine Le Pen has taken the lead on Twitter and Facebook, she has been defeated by Jean-Luc Mélenchon on YouTube. The channel of France’s non-submissive candidate, which was created in 2012, reached 30,000 subscribers in October. But thanks to the coaching of YouTuber Antoine Léaument, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s channel has grown to more than 303,000 subscribers. “He helped the candidate to appropriate YouTube codes, in terms of format and tone (to appeal to sharing and likes),” explains Anaïs Théviot, PhD student at Sciences Po Bordeaux. Jean-Luc Mélenchon has filmed FAQ videos where he answers questions from Internet users in an attempt to humanise the candidate-voter relationship.

Snapchat gets political!

If the digital world was already extremely important in the 2012 presidential campaign, the novelty this year is the multiplication of more focused new social networks, like Snapchat. Some candidates are there to talk to young people, just like Bernie Sanders was doing in the United States. Snapchat took over last year as the flagship social network of the US elections. In France, on Monday April 17th, the candidate François Fillon answered approximately fifteen questions concerning the economy, unemployment, education and other subjects. He also responded to more trivial questions, such as the issue of the cost of kebabs. Benoît Hamon succeeded him on Tuesday, and Marine Le Pen on Wednesday. Snapchat promised other initiatives by May 7th, with new “Our Stories” and filters reminding Internet users that the ballot is approaching and they have the choice of performing a power of attorney, if they are unable to get to their polling station.

Despite a well developed presidential election 2.0, television remains the main source for political information. Indeed, likes and retweets are only an indication of popularity and represent no more than a limited commitment … let us therefore await the verdict on May 7, 2017!  Political communication has evolved with each presidential election, which is why one wonders whether politicians might, by 2022, be the subject of future product placements for brands?

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