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Like or dislike: How Germany’s election campaign is going social – DW

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From using influencers to posting on TikTok, German political parties are attempting to reach out to voters on social media in a variety of ways. Will they succeed?

Juicy bratwurst, free beer and energetic speeches: These traditional tools for mobilizing German voters have been largely missing from the federal election campaign due to the pandemic.

Instead of speaking in crowded public spaces in the lead-up to the September 26 poll, Germany’s political parties have instead been hunting for votes on the internet, and especially social media. 

The shift online might have been accelerated by the coronavirus; but parties today need to build campaigns around social media platforms via which the electorate is just a click away.

A 2020 study by the Leibniz Institute for Media Research shows that 37% percent of respondents used social media to get their news — up from 34% the year before. The percentage is much higher among 18-24 year olds, 56% of whom stay up-to-date online.

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Targeting older voters on established platforms

Germany is not exactly known for being a front-runner in digital innovation. In terms of broadband access, digitalization or technical equipment in schools, Germany is merely average, according to the EU Digital Economy and Society Index.

During the US presidential election in 2008, Barack Obama’s team was already focusing on a digital election campaign. He became the first Black president and was later dubbed the “first social media president” due to his campaign’s widespread use of platforms like Twitter and Facebook to connect with voters.

Yet in Germany during the last election in 2017, some candidates had a very limited social media presence. That is finally changing as candidates upgrade their social media profiles and post frequently across a variety of platforms.

Martin Fuchs speaking into a microphone at an event.

Political consultant and media expert Martin Fuchs says parties need to find unique methods to reach voters

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Some German politicians are even reaching voters via the relatively new TikTok platform. The CSU (Christian Social Union) party posted a video on the platform featuring party leader Markus Söder talking about his favorite films and how he likes to eat Nutella. It succeeded in generating attention among the platform’s predominantly younger users.

But not all politicians are embracing TikTok due to its poor reputation for “data leakage,” according to social media expert and political consultant, Martin Fuchs.

“Even though it is often said that young voters are important, they are almost irrelevant to the election campaign and election outcome,” he said. “There is greater potential to mobilize people over age 50 because they have a higher voter turnout and there are more of them.”

It partly explains why most parties rely on tried-and-tested platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

But Fuchs sees the need for more innovative methods. “The SPD has built a community on messenger service Telegram, with audio and video content — it’s a good example of dialogue-based community involvement.”

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Social media influencers sway voters

Both the far-right AfD (Alternative for Germany) and the SPD (Social Democrats) are using the voices of social media influencers as part of their election campaign strategies.

Martin Fuchs says the AfD promotes “young users who are pro-AfD and speak out against the Greens, and they are very successful with it. “

  • A picture showing election posters of various political parties in 1946

    Election posters: German politics over the years

    The 1940s — Reconstruction

    After the Second World War, Germany lay in ruins. Many things had to be rebuilt — including the political party landscape. When the first Bundestag or Parliament was formed in 1949, none of the parties could secure a third of the public votes. Coalitions had to be formed. The issues, however, were similar: reconstruction, economic integration, and the desire for a united Germany.

  • CDU election poster from 1949 showing a cross on a ballot paper. On one side are the German words Aufbau (construction) and Arbeit (work), on the other Bürokratie (bureaucracy) and Zwangswirtschaft (regulated economy)

    Election posters: German politics over the years

    Socialism: an obvious enemy

    The election promise of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), whose leader Konrad Adenauer became the first German chancellor in 1949, was “construction and work” instead of “bureaucracy and a regulated economy.” The latter two were the campaign platforms of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which in the years after 1945 focused on a regulated, planned economy.

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  • An FDP poster showing Ollenhauer plowing a field, followed by a red, obviously communist, sower dispersing stars (another communist symbol). The sower's head is merely a skull

    Election posters: German politics over the years

    The 1950s — stability and recovery

    Besides wanting peace and security, the parties in the 1950s focused on economic recovery. Here, the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) warns against the influence of the Soviet Union. SPD candidate Erich Ollenhauer is portrayed as a puppet of the USSR. A rather anti-communist climate was common at the time, which also resulted in the reelection of the conservative Adenauer in 1953.

  • Christian Social Union or CSU's election poster for the 1953 federal election that says, Daddy and Mommy vote for me

    Election posters: German politics over the years

    ‘Daddy is mine on Saturdays’

    By the mid-1950s, the economy had recovered. People were hopeful about a bright future, and this was also reflected in the birth rate that increased 30% between 1953 and 1963. At the same time, the unions demanded more rights for employees. With the video “Saturdays belong to Daddy,” they began to fight for a five-day week in 1956.

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  • In 1961, the CDU used an SPD poster featuring candidate Willy Brandt with the slogan Prosperity is there for everyone. The CDU added the afterthought: ...thanks to Erhard's economic policy

    Election posters: German politics over the years

    The 1960s — The Wall and Willy Brandt

    First war, then reconstruction, and finally the building of the Wall: within just one and a half decades, the society in the Federal Republic underwent a transformation that permanently changed its attitude to life and its value system. Willy Brandt’s candidacy (SPD) in 1961 heralded a change in policy, but first the CDU’s Adenauer made it again into the chancellor’s office.

  • An election poster of the CDU from 1965 show a woman and a child with a full shopping cart

    Election posters: German politics over the years

    “Prosperity for All”

    Ludwig Erhard, the “father of the social market economy,” is elected to the highest office in 1963. His liberal-conservative course and his promise of “prosperity for all” seemed to go down just as well with voters as the “housewife idyll” suggested by the CDU’s election campaign in this picture.

  • An election poster, hung in a German city center, shows Willy Brandt in 1972, with a streetcar in the background

    Election posters: German politics over the years

    The 1970s: ‘Ostpolitik’ and Internal Security

    In the 1970s, terrorist attacks by extreme left-wing groups, especially the RAF, had a significant impact on the sociopolitical climate. The parties focus on the issue of “internal security.” Willy Brandt of the SPD is voted chancellor. He also advocates understanding with Eastern Europe, for which he receives the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971.

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  • Election poster of the CDU shows a smiling woman and the slogan ...so that women's interests are not left 'to the Left'

    Election posters: German politics over the years

    Women’s movement and pro-environment protests

    From the mid-1970s onward, the Federal Republic is dominated by change. More and more women demand greater equality. The CDU jumps on this bandwagon for its 1976 election campaign. In the same year, a protest movement also forms against the construction of a nuclear power plant in Brokdorf and the planned nuclear repository in Gorleben. The call for a political alternative grows louder.

  • Green party candidates for the German state of Hessen hold up a poster adorned with sunflowers, a party symbol till today

    Election posters: German politics over the years

    The 1980s — Fear of Nuclear War

    The Green Party is founded in 1980 and three years later, its members make it into the Bundestag for the first time with their top candidate, Joschka Fischer (right). The mood in the Federal Republic at this time is characterized by fear of nuclear war and protests against the planned NATO rearmament. The peace movement becomes the largest mass movement in the history of the Federal Republic.

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  • A poster featuring Helmut Kohl is seen next to a poster featuring SPD candidate, Rudolf Scharping (SPD)

    Election posters: German politics over the years

    The 1990s — Reunification

    The year 1990 marked an important year in German history. The reunification of the former east and west Germany on October 3, 1990, was followed two months later by the first united German federal election. Helmut Kohl of the CDU once again received the approval of the voters — he would remain in office as the “Chancellor of Unity” for a total of 16 years.

  • Underneath a PDS election poster for the first all-German Bundestag elections on December 2, 1990, hangs a poster for laundry detergent with the slogan Its washing power makes it so productive

    Election posters: German politics over the years

    Political tensions

    The 1990s were a politically turbulent decade. In 1992, Hoyerswerda and Rostock became synonymous worldwide with a new German nationalism. In Hoyerswerda, a home for asylum seekers was set on fire, with fatal results. In the left-wing camp, the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) is formed, and enters the Bundestag in the early 1990s with top candidate Gregor Gysi (photo).

  • Two election posters featuring SPD's Gerhard Schröder (left), and CDU's Angela Merkel

    Election posters: German politics over the years

    The 2000s — Germany has a female chancellor

    In 2005, Angela Merkel became the first woman to head the Federal Republic of Germany. She took over from the SPD’s Gerhard Schröder. Both the CDU politician and the 2006 World Cup helped improve Germany’s image abroad. The following year was all about the European Union, which celebrated its 50th anniversary during Germany’s EU Council presidency.

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  • The Greens' election posters for the European elections in 2019 featured a bird with opened mouth, with the words Cohesion, climate protection and your voice! written beside it

    Election posters: German politics over the years

    The 2010s — nuclear phase-out and conscription

    Following the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, Germany decides to phase out nuclear power by 2022. By 2050, the supply is to be covered entirely by renewable energies. At the beginning of the decade, compulsory military service was also suspended. Henceforth, there would be a purely professional army. Chancellor Merkel is voted into office again in 2013.

  • Germany European election 2019: An AfD election billboard in Berlin bears the line, So that Europe does not become 'Eurabia'. It shows men dressed in oriental clothing, with a naked woman in their midst. One of the men whose fingers are formed in a shape of a gun, has the 'barrel' stuffed in the woman's mouth

    Election posters: German politics over the years

    Migration and the fear of terror

    2015 will go down in history as the year of the refugee crisis. People from war zones in Africa and the Middle East sought refuge in Europe. Germany took in around one million refugees. The following year, an Islamist terrorist attack shook Berlin. Right-wing parties gained ground again throughout Europe; in Germany, the right-wing Alternative ffor Germany (AfD) increasingly secures votes.

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  • Left Party posters for the 2021 Bundestag elections in Berlin with various slogans: Indivisible solidarity - Now! or Stop peace arms exports. Now!

    Election posters: German politics over the years

    The 2020s — The Decade of Crises?

    The COVID-19 pandemic becomes THE topic in Germany in the early 2020s, raising many questions for politics and society: How can we have better health care? How well should people in the caring professions be paid in future? How can further crises be avoided? All these issues are dominating the current federal election campaign.

    Author: Annabelle Steffes-Halmer


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The SPD has been utlizing 20-year-old Instagram influencer Lilly Blaudszun, who has 20k followers as of the last count. She posts photos of herself with prominent SPD politicians and weaves in lighter topics, including a humorous video about bad summer weather in Germany. 

But Fuchs points out that campaigns must exist in both the offline and online realms to be successful. “In 2021, no election campaign will work that doesn’t think in both worlds,” he said. 

AfD: ‘First real digital party in Germany’

AfD candidate Alice Weidel has more than 23,000 subscribers on YouTube, while at the other end of the political sprectrum, Green Party candidate Annalena Baerbock has only around 800 subscribers — as opposed to her near 300,000 followers on Instagram, indicating her popularity with younger voters.  

How the far-right AfD created such a successful online community, especially on established platforms like Facebook, was the subject of a study by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in 2019 on the occasion of the European elections, and which Martin Fuchs worked on.

“The AfD is the first real digital party in Germany.” he said. 

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“It had no real infrastructure when it was founded, it had no back rooms, no district associations and so on, and Facebook provided it with the infrastructure,” he explained. “That means anyone who wanted to move up in the party had to be on Facebook, so the community grew relatively quickly because people in the party spent a lot of time on these platforms.”

Chancellor candidates on television: Armin Laschet, Annalena Baerbock und Olaf Scholz.

Candidate Annalena Baerbock (center) has a large social media following on Instagram, but not on YouTube

Reaching a specific target group

In contrast to campaigning on posters or on TV in an attempt to reach a large audience, microtargeting is a data-mining technique that lets candidates reach a select group of people online.

In the month leading up to the previous US election, for example, the Donald Trump campaign spent almost $1 million a day on such advertising, and focused on voters in a select group of states.

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While platforms such as TikTok or Instagram do not allow this type of political advertising, Facebook offers ideal conditions for microtargeting. This is due to its algorithm, which categorizes users according to age, gender and interests to effectively place election advertising.

Microtargeting is also practiced in Germany, but not to the same extent as in the US.

Parties in Germany have drawn up a kind of fairness agreement they does not allow specific targeting, explained Fuchs. He himself does not believe, however, “that microtargeting does not have a big impact in mobilizing people.” 

Either way, whether via Facebook ads, a podcast or influencer posts on Instagram, all parties are currently utilizing diverse digital platforms to court voters leading up to September 26.

This article was translated from German by Sarah Hucal.

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LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August

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Looking to up your skills for a job change or career advancement in the second half of the year?

This will help – today, LinkedIn has published its listing of the 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses over the first half of 2022. In addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making each of these courses free to access till the end of the month – so now may well be the best time to jump in and brush up on the latest, rising skills in your industry.

As per LinkedIn:

As the Great Reshuffle slows and the job market cools, professionals are getting more serious about skill building. The pandemic accelerated change across industries, and as a result, skills to do a job today have changed even compared to a few years ago. Professionals are responding by learning new skills to future-proof their careers and meet the moment.” 

LinkedIn says that over seven million people have undertaken these 20 courses this year, covering everything from improved communication, project management, coding, strategic thinking and more.

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Here are the top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses right now, which you can access via the relevant links:

  1. Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Jessie Withers
  2. Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365) with Dennis Taylor
  3. Interpersonal Communication with Dorie Clark
  4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  5. Project Management Foundations with Bonnie Biafore
  6. Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity with Joshua Miller
  7. Essentials of Team Collaboration with Dana Brownlee
  8. Unconscious Bias with Stacey Gordon
  9. Learning Python with Joe Marini
  10. Communicating with Confidence with Jeff Ansell
  11.  Speaking Confidently and Effectively with Pete Mockaitis
  12. Learning the OWASP Top 10 with Caroline Wong
  13. Power BI Essential Training with Gini von Courter
  14. Strategic Thinking with Dorie Clark
  15. SQL Essential Training with Bill Weinman
  16. Developing Your Emotional Intelligence with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  17. Communication Foundations with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou
  18. Agile Foundations with Doug Rose
  19. Digital Marketing Foundations with Brad Batesole
  20. Critical Thinking with Mike Figliuolo
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If you’ve been thinking about upskilling, now may be the time – or maybe it’s just worth taking some of the programming courses, for example, so that you have a better understanding of how to communicate between departments on projects.

Or you could take an Agile course. If, you know, you don’t trust your own management ability.

The courses are available for free till August 31st via the above links.

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …

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Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.

Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.

Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.

Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.

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Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.

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Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a pic.twitter.com/2chGZP9hr4

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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