Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Beautifully naive - or how to use Facebook for political PR

Let me translate what German MEP Silvana Koch-Mehrin and liberal frontrunner in Germany is writing in her "blog" (on the online platform of a large weekly magazine) about her new Facebook appearance:
My 800 closest friends

I don't want to beat about the bush for long [...], and I therefore admit that the European Parliament election campaign was a good argument to create a Facebook account for me. Can any candidate after Obama live without it? But I have to say - already now I am fascinated what you can do with this Social Network.
Within one week I collected the stunning number of almost 800 friends. If it continues like this... Yippee! But it is not just about having as many friends as possible - you can really look over my virtual shoulder and see, what I am doing as a politician. You want to join? Then become my Facebook friend!
This is nice cross-marketing, sold with beautifully naive words. But does it reveal a true interest in Facebook as a communication tool - networking in the more basic sense of the word - or, as she writes, isn't Facebook just seen as a simple tool that offers some additional channels for PR, without much personal involvement of the person whose name the Facebook account carries?

Creating it so short before the elections makes it a pure campaign element, not more and not less. It doesn't represent a change in mindset, and I have the feeling that this is the general tendency of many of those campaigning for the European Parliament who find their way into the funny world of Social Networking - or better: Social Marketing:

They grasp for attention by being present, but they don't grasp for attention by being personal, concrete, involved. It all sounds just like PR.

They look for the new but they sound old. Ms Koch-Mehrin is just an example.


Eurocentric said...

I agree. How exactly is there an element of looking over her shoulder? We would only be able to see what she (or her assistant(s)) put up there.

The FDP will probably do quite well in June, if their recent state results are anything to go by.

Jon Worth said...

If her Facebook presence is anything like her 'blog' it will be Silvana preaching to the world as normal. :-(