Live Instagram, Twitch channels, TikTok accounts … What are the policies playing on social networks?


“Hi people! Today we have an appointment with Mr. Gabriel Attal”exclaims Tibo InShape, big smile on his face and sports T-shirt on his back. On November 29, 2020, the fitness youtuber is starting a live Instagram with the government spokesperson. “Yo!” launches the influencer as the secretary of state appears on screen in casual clothes. “Damn the team shape”, laughs Gabriel Attal, taking up in perfect English the ritual catchphrase of Tibo InShape.

Exit the formalities, both are talking to each other. Containment, masks, vaccines … For nearly half an hour, they sweep the questions of the YouTuber community, which has nearly eight million subscribers on the video platform and more than four million on Instagram.

Since the fall, the government spokesperson, “which manages its social networks alone”, affirms a ministerial adviser, lends itself almost every Sunday to this exercise with influencers. An appointment “artisanal”, slips this same source, which ensures that during his first live, with the youtubeuse EnjoyPhoenix, Gabriel Attal “had just put his phone on a stack of books”.

In recent months, many politicians have tried, with varying degrees of success, to seize social networks and their codes. “Hello, young entrepreneur!” Marlène Schiappa released at the end of November in her first TikTok video, parodying a Swiss influencer who went viral on social networks.


Hi to you young entrepreneur (and young entrepreneur), I have a message for you ## Tiktok ## the question is answered

♬ Run The World (Girls) (Glee Cast Version) – Glee Cast

On Twitter, The Minister Delegate in charge of Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, meanwhile split with a nod to the words of the rap hit Organized band to raise awareness about wearing a mask when carpooling. And while Emmanuel Macron challenged videographers McFly and Carlito, even the “vintage” Jean Castex – in his own words – took his first steps on Twitch with the journalist of France Télévisions Samuel Etienne, a few days after the passage of the former president François Hollande.

But what are politicians looking for on these platforms? First, to reach a well-identified target: young people. “Our duty is to go and discuss with those who free themselves from traditional media and who consume a lot of information on social networks”, pleads the entourage of Gabriel Attal. A strategy “logic”, according to Thierry Vedel, researcher at the CNRS and specialist in the interaction of policies with new media.

“If we want to target young people, we go to social networks, and if we want to target older people, we go to television.”

Thierry Vedel, researcher at CNRS

to franceinfo

However, “young people are a public quite distant from politics”, adds Thierry Vedel, who doubts the real ability of elected officials to “arouse the interest of young people” through these channels.

For politicians, it is also a question of creating a certain “proximity” with Internet users, confides LREM deputy Denis Masséglia. The elected representative of Maine-et-Loire created his Twitch channel in November. There he juggles between live broadcasts of his video game games and virtual round tables on social issues with other deputies and his 500 subscribers. “Social networks allow much more direct interactivity and more horizontality than traditional media”, argues Antoine Léaument, head of digital communication for Jean-Luc Mélenchon since 2013.

The leader of La France insoumise has made social networks his 2.0 campaign ground. On the sidelines of the 2017 presidential election, the former socialist had thus invested YouTube to offer a “review of the week”, a tour of the news allowing him in passing to lead his “convictions campaign”, he explained in the first issue.

“The traditional media system imposes thematic and temporal limits on us. With social networks, we have the possibility of choosing our themes and the time we want to devote to a subject.”

Antoine Léaument, head of digital communication for Jean-Luc Mélenchon

to franceinfo

Social networks also allow Jean-Luc Mélenchon to “unfolding a discourse without contradiction”, puts into perspective Anne-Claire Ruel, lecturer in political communication at the University of Paris-13.

Beyond the battle for information, it is also the battle for image and communication that is being played out on these platforms. “It’s the display of modernity, politicians want to show that they use the latest means of communication”, Thierry Vedel analysis. Not to mention that the presence on a new social network also generates a “boomerang effect”, according to Anne-Claire Ruel, who recalls that “Jean Castex’s intervention on Twitch was included in the television news”.

In addition, being quickly identified on an emerging platform can be strategic. “If you register first on a new social network, your community will also be the first to set up there and to federate “, adds the teacher. An issue that recognizes “clearly”, Antoine Léaument on the side of La France insoumise, who does not hide his satisfaction at having “well perceived the emergence of each network”.

Behind the apparent spontaneity displayed by policies in these areas, however, the exercise requires preparation. If Gabriel Attal is alone on Sunday evening in front of influencers and their subscribers, his teams provide upstream research for speakers. “Each live has a theme that [l’instagrameur] has already talked about his community “, explains a ministerial advisor, who specifies to lend a “particular attention to the daily exchanges of the influencer with his subscribers”.

Landing on a social network cannot be improvised. The “rebellious” deputy Ugo Bernalicis has also thought for a long time before creating his Twitch channel in early May. “I didn’t want to go all out, I had to prepare visuals, concept ideas for the first live”, tells the parliamentarian from the North. With around 4,000 subscribers, the “DepuTwitch” – as he calls himself on the platform – debate for example about the legalization of cannabis while playing a video game simulating the cultivation of hemp.

“You have to respect the codes of the social network to get established and have an audience.”

Ugo Bernalicis, LFI deputy

to franceinfo

A reflection pushed even in the video of announcement of the live which summons pell-mell the animated series South park and American rapper Snoop Dogg. “We try to be halfway between pop culture content and political content”, explains Ugo Bernalicis, who assumes “put these references at the service of the political battle”.

“Each social network has its own grammar, abstract Antoine Léaument. The whole difficulty for politicians is to grasp it, to succeed in speaking the language of the platform on which they are going, without losing their identity. ”

A balancing act far from obvious. As evidenced by the passage on Twitch of Jean Castex, which gathered up to 85,000 spectators at the same time. Refusing to give in to “youthism”, the head of government delivered a performance close to the traditional press conferences on Thursday evening. “IThere are measures that should have been explained much better, because we always have progress to make on pedagogy “, he comments, for example, when asked about his “regrets” since his arrival in Matignon.

In the chat, many Internet users blasted the “double talk” the Prime Minister, despite the reminders of Samuel Etienne inviting him to answer questions more directly. “Jean Castex used the usual language elements”, comments the journalist, who considers that this one “missed the exercise”.

“On Twitch, you have to answer the question, and not be off-topic, otherwise you won’t miss the chat.”

Denis Masséglia, LREM deputy

to franceinfo

“On certain questions it is complicated for an official of the stature of the Prime Minister to answer directly”, adds the chosen one. “You can’t necessarily say what people want to hear right now, especially if they want to hear that a decision is made, when it’s not true.”, we also defend in the entourage of the Prime Minister.

The show “Without filter”, launched by Gabriel Attal in February from the Elysee Palace, broadcast on Twitch and YouTube, did not convince Internet users either. Supposed to be aimed at young people, thehe first issue bringing together several influencers was criticized by many students, who did not recognize themselves in the choice of speakers. “Different profiles, directly concerned by the subjects discussed” will be invited for the next show, which is to take place “end of March”, informed a ministerial adviser.

Despite the risk of “bad buzz”, social networks are a “soundboard” strategic policy that politicians can hardly do without, underlines Anne-Claire Ruel. Yes “television remains the mass medium”, notes the teacher in political communication, “It is interesting to multiply the political communication channels”. All the more so as the regional elections and the presidential elections approach. “A campaign is being played in part on social networks, especially in times of pandemic”, says Antoine Léaument, even if these platforms do not “will never replace the specificity of a meeting, for example, which allows acommunion elm “. “You have to be everywhere”, abounds Ugo Bernalicis. From the perspective of the regional, the deputy of the North thus evokes possible live Twitch with other members of the union of the left in Hauts-de-France.

For his part, Samuel Etienne, who confides in having been requested by most of the parties, will welcome on his channel other political representatives in the coming weeks. “You have not finished seeing all the politicians reapply” on Twitch, predicted Jean-Luc Mélenchon, at the launch of his channel, last spring.


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