Archive for ‘politics’

October 9th, 2011

Talibans on Social Media

by Laurent François

NATO and their allies seem more and more scared because of a new evolution in Taliban strategy. If some decades ago, they were considered as modernity’s lost children (ie listening to music or watching TV were strictly forbidden), they are now massively entering digital era, deploying an efficient Social Media strategy.

For many months now, citizens or activists can follow Alemarahweb account, on the current fights from islamist troops vs American soldiers. We’ve also seen a true Twitter war between ISAF and Taliban spokeperson, which is a very interesting trend for next battles; giving live updates and controling the WOM spread is as important as earning new grounds. It is highly strong for Taliban as these social platforms endeavour their contact strategy with foreign opinion leaders. Websites pro-Taliban are sky-rocketing and it is linked to a “real” and daily pressure pattern on local populations. Not only through dangerous, violent and costly raids, but also through massive SMS sending, diffusing ideas and information on Jihad. Because it is sent at a very frequent pace, it could be compared to a digital minaret. Every channel used by international brand is also mastered by Talibans. It gives coherence and “form” to their ambition.

If we summarize: Bin Ladin implemented a TV-oriented communication. It had advantages (shock, expectations from media, fear…) but it lacked what the new digital strategy owns:  resilience with their target groups.

It is to be approached as one of the most jeopardizing threat against NATO; because the vision is now kind of blurry, local citizens start doubting, whereas Talibans suggest a simple thus coherent platform.

Talibans managed to control again the communication funnel, as Thomas Ruttig explained in 2010 en 2010 :  “Ces huit ou neuf dernières années, les Taliban ont réussi à diminuer le nombre de voix émanant du mouvement. Les premières années après la chute des Taliban, il y avait différents porte-paroles donnant souvent des versions différentes de la situation. Mais c’est terminé.” 

Conquering new cash-flow providers in foreign countries + a necessary need to get direct responses capabilities in terms of influence were two priorities. Because the new generations are highly pervasive in Afghanistan; they’ve been raised with internet and with Afghan diaspora. Soft Power is not only great powers’ main asset; it’s now also widely relevant for niche groups like Talibans for 2 reasons: they move faster than big organizations; they have a will in which deat is also part of the programme.

August 16th, 2010

WTF in France #9 – Alain Lambert quits Twitter: digital influence to produce silence

by Laurent François


Alain Lambert, Senator in the Upper House of Parliament and President of Orne County Council, who was Minister for the Budget and Budgetary Reform from 2002 to 2004, decided to quit Twitter.

edit:Loïc H. Rechi abstraitconcret @lilzeon en fait il a juste passé son compte en privé. translation: Alain Lambert hasn’t left, he now has a private account…

He was a very involved digital influencer, who was one of the very first politician (not to say one of the best) to understand and use Social Media. He was also involved in one of my Ogilvy project called “L’Express 3001“which aimed in early 2009 to produce with diverse digital stakeholders a special edition, thanks to a kind a lab, to explore synergies between bloggers, journalists or other types of content-makers.

On August, 15th, Alain Lambert sent 2 tweets from a Church. Problem is: a journalist who works for Ouest France, Mickael Louedec, wrote an article mentioning it. Alain Lambert, a bit angry and probably tired to manage a community of Paris-centric journalists & bloggers, decided to leave.

Few questions and insights:

  • how to manage extimacy when you’re a public person like Alain Lambert: it seems like even former Ministers don’t really position clearly themselves between what can be shared, and what must remain fully private. What a pressure…
  • how can a journalist base a whole article on a simple tweet? In this new environment, whereas you discuss as in café for upper class people, suddenly someone extracts a piece of what you say to use it for his own objective. Off is dead, definitely
  • finally, depending on your target: is it worth “tweeting” when your voters are not really into this tool? Leaving Twitter is for Alain Lambert a way to take again the lead on his narrative. To produce silence, in a sense

Digital influence is not only about engaging conversation; it’s also about managing who’s talking. And who can’t.

June 8th, 2010

Context is sometimes more important than the product

by Laurent François


A quick note mentioning a very funny but efficient campaign in Japan:

“Yahoo Japan is reporting on the tactics of Odawara City to get people interested in the forthcoming summer elections.

Preparing a fairly modest 200 rolls, the city’s election organizers has been distributing the toilet paper to Odawara restaurants, along with posters and special drinks coasters..”

This tactics could be amplified in Social Media; context is probably even more important than the product itself. Depending on the affinity, marketers could try to find what fits more to expectations & actions of final publics.

That’s fair: why not use an important moment like sitting in a bathroom to display key messages to your final public?

Next time: a twitter feed on the roll?

Ha – Ha – Ha

December 29th, 2009

Sarkozy vs Camus: towards a communication & identity danger

by Laurent François


There’s been a huge debate in France as President Sarkozy wants to put Albert Camus in the Pantheon.
So first what’s the Pantheon? First & foremost a nationwide symbol, that aims to go far beyond political divides (at least on the paper):

“The absence of a verb in French emphasizes that the implicit notion of honour is given from the homeland to the great men. By burying its great men in the Panthéon, the Nation wants to acknowledge the honour it received from them. As such, interment here is severely restricted and is allowed only by a parliamentary act for “National Heroes”. Similar high honours exist in Les Invalides for historical military leaders such as Napoléon, Turenne and Vauban.”

So as it mustn’t be the decision of a single man but a kind of nation move.

Eric Ehrmann wrote a brilliant article in the Huffington post and asked my point of view. Here’s his conclusion:

Albert Camus is part of the French cultural patrimony and he belongs in the Pantheon. Sarkozy would be remiss if, as president, he does not redouble his efforts to put him there. As for the French left, they ought to realize it’s time to tone down the culture of complaint. The next time they gain power they can start a Twitter campaign to put Sartre in the Pantheon and see if it goes viral…

And guess what: to my mind, there are great & true statements…and some partially wrong.

Let’s go!

First, Eric is damn right concerning our left-wing: there’s a total mess. At the moment, it’s easier to tell why you’re more right-wing than explaining why you’re socialist. There’s also a kind of proudness to be an UMP member than a socialist one. And that’s an incredible change in our political landscape. Eric is (again) right when he writes that socialists may appear living in another century: the only common views are most of the time some kinds of stereotypes against capitalism. But here’s the big thing: Sarkozy is living now, and already engaged his campaign for 2012. Albert Camus is not an event that is out of the blue with his strategy.

Sarkozy is not a man who’s trying to embody the whole nation. His strategy has always been to draw a line between what’s his camp and who the opponents are. And obviously manages to always get a majority de facto. We’ve hardly had so arrogant ministers. It’s not a coincidence: Sarkozy always claimed a break-down. He wants Camus to be in his camp.

President Sarkozy always tried to make left-wing figures his. During his 2005 campaign, he used Blum & Jaurès to tentatively demonstrate why French needed to work more to earn more (travailler plus pour gagner plus). Sarkozy poached Eric Besson (former socialist), and tries to multiply commissions in which socialists are engaged. This overture is also a mean to unsettle opponents: what to say to someone using your own resources?

France is also experiencing a stupid debate, engaged by Sarkozy & Besson around our national identity. French nation is based on a “vivre ensemble”, on a common desire to achieve things together, whatever your skin color is or your origins are. It’s an inclusive model, very demanding but very rich. Instead of defining our nationality as an opposition against something, it’s a will. It’s the “and…and” approach instead of “or…or” one. But now the debate is around symbols, values, rituals. All that things that exclude. And you don’t have to be paranoid to see that Camus is another tactics. It’s utterly dangerous to list French identity around 10 or 20 bullet points. Because our nationality is not about them.

Sarkozy made it right: everybody’s discussing why Camus would be a left-wing person or not; if Camus would fit with Sarkozy positions. And that’s great for Sarkozy, but it’s a non-sense in this case. You don’t make dead people vote. Of course Camus chef d’oeuvre belongs to French; the only question is: why putting him now in Panthéon?

Camus did not want to enter French nation institutions after his death. He was buried in Loumarin, where he was born. He wanted to be away from Paris, and from its elites. Moreover, Camus wanted to rest in peace away from spotlights: his books will survive, anyway.

The debates that are now systematically rising when Sarkozy suggests anything are not a proof of the deep nature of French people for fighting or groaning. It’s an illustration that the nation is now very doubtful with its leader. And that if there’s no structured opposition, there’s nonetheless a strong frustration. And here’s the big danger.

November 10th, 2009

Sarkozy forgot that storytelling does not mean lying in Social Media

by Laurent François


President Sarkozy is (again) attacked online, because of a new lie he’s done on Facebook yesterday.

As you know, we’ve just celebrated Berlin Wall fall and it’s probably one of the most important events for European citizens.

NY Times reports:

“Mr. Sarkozy, the president of France, said he had been, in a post on his Facebook page on Sunday. But while he was in Berlin on Monday celebrating the anniversary with other world leaders, the media back home in Paris were suggesting that he had his dates mixed up.“On the morning of Nov. 9, we looked into the news from Berlin, which indicated that change was afoot in Germany’s divided capital,” he wrote about events in 1989 in his Facebook post, which includes a photograph of himself at the Berlin Wall at night.”

What’s interesting is that many French citizens reacted and commented on Sarkozy pages and in social media. Another demonstration that when it comes to personal beliefs, people implement social-media control on politicians.

Luc Mandret declared on his blog:

Mais arranger et déformer la réalité, c’est passer un cap dangereux.” / “distorting truth, it’s going too far”

Storytelling is not about lying