Twitter: 200 million users, 184 billion tweets per year, a market valuation of $33 billion, coveted by Google – no less (2). It has become an indispensable communication channel for public figures. Trend setters and social commentators look after their follower count like a currency. With her whooping 64 million Katy Perry tops the celebrity tally, followed by Justin Bieber (59 million), and Barack Obama (54 million) (3).
Francois Hollande, president of the 6th largest economy, also has a twitter account followed by nearly 1 million people.
A rough comparison with other Heads of States shows that even if the French President has a relatively low ratio ‘followers-to-population’, he is definitely in the top league.
So the question faced by @fhollande online is therefore similar to the one faced by François Hollande ‘irl’ : what to do with this power? Which is a summary of the whole dilemma faced by this presidency.
‘With great power comes great responsibility’, and yet Hollande chose to revert to the old monarchical way, and has delegated this responsibility to a privy council made up of young aspiring political staffers. They all graduated from the same elite college which trains public servants and administrators who literally steer the country one memorandum at a time. Their addiction to the corridors of power has made them a new Republican Aristocracy of spin doctors who prefers life at the court in Paris to spending time with constituents.
So as good spin doctors, they must have also devised a communication strategy to address the ubiquity of social media. Yet, checking the twitter account brings instant deflation:
As you can see, it is a long-winded list of eulogies and sports announcements – apart from a little tweet featuring France’s own Steve Jobs, Xavier Niel.
So we can volunteer a few hypotheses regarding the nature of this presidential twitter account:
- Either Hollande realises his presidency has been a complete let down punctuated by the regular bad news he’s had to break (rising unemployment, Euro crisis, austerity), compounded by the lack of social project (a killer for a supposedly ‘Left’ president). A dismal missed opportunity. In fact the only news capable of lifting his approval rating have been deaths, remembrance celebrations, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks. Only those moments have been able to provide him with the occasions to call for national unity. For instance, his biggest improvement was a +21% spike of his approval rating after the Charlie Hebdo shootings. He then jumped from from 19% to 40%. When jihadists are the cause of your best performance in the polls, you know something is probably wrong with your political strategy…(4)
- Either Hollande’s staffers are a bunch of political insiders who are irremediably disconnected from the real world, which is really a polite way of saying they are incompetent since their job is to represent the people. And it is true that a closer look at the ‘president’s men’ (and women) brings the beginning of an answer (5):
To be clear, that picture is not a fake nor an April’s fool. These are our very ‘republican aristocrats’ pausing for a photo in their palace, in an absolutely ridiculous fashion. Especially the dude on the right with his glasses and his pain in the neck attitude. To their deference, those young shots have managed to make the French online community Laugh Out Loud, which given the lack of positive news is an achievement in its own right. In a way it continues a presidential track-record that has been a rolling joke since the first day of his tenure:
- Either after checking out the latest video from Stromae (6), they have become so concerned by the issue of social media addiction, that they have taken the proactive steps to protect their followers and therefore they don’t overload them with unnecessary tweets:
Love is like the bird of Twitter / It is blue it just for forty-eight hours / First we develop “affinity” / Then we “follow” each other / It becomes cracks and we end up solo / Take care of yourself!
In any case, what seems clear is that Hollande has nothing positive to communicate to his million followers.
And when he finally agrees to reach out to the masses, he ends up on a TV program mainly watched by hipsters, and which format is all about delivering funny lines and cracking jokes. As if this was the priority of the moment…
So, in lieu of substance, the French president is mucking around, hoping of an accidental re-election. To do nothing, to saying nothing, and who knows… economic growth might rebound by 0.5% thanks to a global betterment, or lower oil prices. Alternatively, another Islamic attack might strike again, and make this re-election happen.
Really, « they are the champions »…
(1) Chiffres Twitter : http://www.blogdumoderateur.com/chiffres-twitter/
(2) Google rachète Twitter : http://www.numerama.com/magazine/32747-google-pret-a-acheter-twitter.html
(3) Les comptes Twitter les plus suivis : http://www.journaldunet.com/ebusiness/le-net/classement-twitter-followers.shtml
(4) Le bond dans les sondages de Hollande après l’attentat de Charlie Hebdo : http://www.metronews.fr/info/charlie-hebdo-sondage-le-bond-historique-de-francois-hollande-21-points/moas!lbfNUZGwIOqNc/
(5) L’équipe de conseillers de François Hollande à l’Elysée : http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/politique/20150203.OBS1557/elysee-ces-trentenaires-a-qui-hollande-a-confie-les-clefs-du-pays.html
(6) Stromae sonne la charge contre Twitter : http://bigbrowser.blog.lemonde.fr/2015/04/02/le-clip-anti-twitter-de-stromae/
(7) « blagounettes et chansonnette » http://www.infos.fr/hollande-sur-canal-blagounettes-et-chansonnette-resument-les-editorialistes-131493.html#ixzz3Xrdsp1xV