I recently read a study about elections – specifically about the US elections 2008 (Obama) and the French elections in 2012 (Hollande), and how candidates are using social media. The question struck me then: do the candidates still maintain their lines of communication with the citizens after a victory in the elections?
Let’s take a realistic look at the issue. During the campaign the party leader or candidate is quite accessible: he/she is for example very active on Facebook, everyone can contact him/her via their personal email (yahoo, gmail, etc), call on their mobile phone at every hour of every day, each event is ‘accompanied’ by twitter, comments are directly written by the candidate, etc.
Can you imagine that it is possible for the president or prime-minister to maintain such a pace? Is it really realistic to believe that they reply to their emails that same day? Can we even ask them to write non-stop on Facebook? Is it possible for them to answer every call on their mobile phone?
It’s a big dilemma and I remember what happened the night Obama got elected as president of the world’s most powerful state. He sent messages using social media to those people who believed in him, who fought side by side with him on a daily basis during the campaign, who helped fundraising – resulting in 750 million dollars. But Obama was quickly warned by the presidential security team that things don’t work that way. “You are the President now, and we must think of your safety. We need to control all equipment and messages with codes, therefore allowing you to be safe, etc.”
And now I wonder how Web 2.0 can really be used by a president or prime-minister. Please do not mix personal messages, responses and comments with phrases like “my team is dealing with this”, or “a consultancy firm is doing everything”. I mean, how realistic is it to ask the president, not his team or his system, to be on Web 2.0?
Dan LUCA / Brussels