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Are Social Networking platforms making a difference to the French presidential election campaigns?

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More than ever, the French presidential campaign is taking place on social networks. Documentary-style videos on Youtube, live-streamed meetings on Twitch, a few dance steps to show off on Instagram, or a bowling strike seen more than 6 million times on Tiktok. These are ideal spaces to win over voters at a lower cost and with no time limit.

Social network trends are being analysed by a company called Favikon, by establishing a ranking of French politicians on social platforms.

Three candidates stand out: Emmanuel Macron, Eric Zemmour, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon who is in the lead.

“It’s a campaign where the more radical subjects have done much more engagement than others. We saw it with Zemmour and Mélenchon. They’ve been in our ranking for six months now. They were both first, one after the other,” explained Jérémy Boissinot, CEO of Favikon.

“Social networks allow them to reach all categories of the population. If they want to reach a professional category, for example, there’s Linkedin. To reach young people, we have Tiktok, and if we want to reach the general public, it’s Facebook. So today, there is a whole range of tools available to candidates to make themselves known on networks,” added Boissinot.

Other candidates have not found their place on these platforms. And in parallel, are struggling to take off in the polls.

Boissinot explained, “The more usual candidates, such as Valérie Pécresse, Anne Hidalgo, or even Yannick Jadot, haven’t really managed to make their mark, because their content did not generate interest on social networks.”

So there is a need to be punchy: and for this, the candidate’s digital teams are working relentlessly. Philippe Moreau-Chevrolet, Professor of Communication at Science Po, Director of MCBG Conseil calls being on social networks a “radicalism bonus”.

But Moreau-Chevrolet said these trends are sometimes misleading

“If we looked at social networks to predict the results of the election, we would say that Eric Zemmour is going to be president. That’s what we could say today, possibly against Emmanuel Macron in the second round. But no, we can’t. On social networks, it’s just the most radicals who express themselves: that’s not representative of reality. This is what Joe Biden diagnosed very well during the American campaign. He told his teams: ‘Don’t campaign on Twitter, look at what’s happening in real life. That’s a lot of what Marine Le Pen has done and it benefits her enormously today.”

Euronews reporter Cyril Fourneris said, “In the age of social networks, one thing is certain: the strict rules of equal speaking time between the candidates on TV or radio have taken on an old look. Now some people in France are calling for a reform of the electoral code.”

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