On the 9th of June 2011, François Bayrou and Christine Lagarde took a try on a risky experiment: a live interview on social networks. Semiocast followed these events and analyzed both questions and answers.
François Bayrou answered questions live from 2:30PM to 3:30PM. It was his second experience, his first twinterview was on the 31st of March 2011.
For Christine Lagarde, it was a first. In the context of the candidacy for the IMF, the French Finance Minister created a Twitter account (@lagarde_imf then @lagarde). She answered questions live from 7PM to 8PM, crossposting on Twitter and Facebook.
Both politicians can rely on their online community management teams, but it is reported that Mrs Lagarde and Mr Bayrou answered the questions themselves during their one-hour interviews.
The two events differed significantly. Thanks to the many announcements from Bayrou's team, 112 individual twitterers asked about 300 questions during the hour-long interview. This is only half as many as seen in the first interview, when over 600 questions were asked by 300 twitterers. The second interview also attracted a renewed audience: only 26 individual twitterers asked questions on both occasions.
On the day before, Christine Lagarde had made a single announcement on each of the two platforms, in both French and English. This drew only 70 questions on her Facebook page over 24 hours and under 40 live questions on Twitter, in spite of a dedicated widget on the Washington Post website.
The number of answers also reflects levels of preparation. Bayrou is getting comfortable in this exercise as he managed to write 82 answers in less than an hour compared to 66 the first time. Of course, at this speed, the answers were sometime quite short, well below the 140-character limit of Twitter. Christine Lagarde only sent 23 answers, approximately an answer every 3 minutes, which is quite a rate if one takes into account the fact that she answered questions on two platforms at the same time in both languages (French and English). Moreover it is said that she answered the questions using an iPad (see photo).
In both cases, answers were difficult to understand without knowing what the question was. The MoDem, Mr Bayrou's party, had set up a specific visualizing tool for the occasion, but it had shortcomings.
Christine Lagarde opted for transparency and covered almost all the topics brought up in questions: the IMF, her candidacy, the world economy in general, even the sponsoring of her campaign (the French state covers her travel expenses). However she ignored an organized campaign on her Facebook page and Twitter asking repeated and duplicated questions about financial transaction taxes.
François Bayrou also covered almost all topics, while ignoring mockeries and false questions. Most questions were about his point of view or his position on a given political issue or reform. The comparison of the volume of answers and questions reveals that Mr Bayrou favored questions on politics (alliances, institutions) to questions on economy or international affairs. People asked more questions about current affairs, but many of them were similar. For example, there were repeated questions about gay union, a topic that was being discussed in Parliament, and Mr Bayrou only replied twice.
Looking at the overall buzz, it seems that Mr Bayrou benefited more from this experiment than Mrs Lagarde did, but that could be explained from the fact that people are already talking quite a lot about Mrs Lagarde since she is running for IMF.
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