Twitter à la française

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The Eiffel tower at sunrise, taken from the Pl...

Today’s Libération, in Paris, reports on the rise of “le Twitter” (or gazouillis as it could be in French) and in particular its use in politics. Citing a French researcher the article says that:

Politicians, already under pressures, like to think that with these new means of communication they will escape the yoke of journalism and instead establish a direct link with the public

Twitter is still in it’s infancy in France. It has only 6,000 users, as opposed to the two million French people on Facebook. But even though the take-up is small (although growing rapidly) it’s development is being accelarated by learning from how it is being used in the US.

The French researcher quoted in the article no doubt has Barack Obama and his more than 50,000 followers in his mind. But what is interesting is to compare how he is using Twitter and how it is being used by French politicians.

Obama has a large following and is using Twitter as a means of pushing out messages and feeds. Contrast this with Benoît Hamon, a French Member of the European Parliament. He is using Twitter to give updates on what he is doing, such as

I don’t understand why riot police has cordoned off the European Parliament for Sarkozy’s arrival. The strikers have always been peaceful until now.

This contrast is interesting and shows, again, how the same social media site can be used by different people for different things. Obama is using it to issue notices and updates, Hamon to give his followers a real insight into his life and observations.

Perhaps most interesting, however, is that even though Twitter is in its infancy in France it is being used in a very mature way by its politicians. This shows that being a first mover can often mean a slower adoption curve. The US took to Twitter a lot quicker but the growth of corporate, political and organisational use of the medium to engage the public has developed quite slowly. France can start higher up this curve. It can start much sooner to use social media to have a direct link with the public.

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One Comment

  1. Cathy:

    fPaL2a Great thinking! That really breaks the mold!