The power of predictability: How Angela Merkel constructed her authenticity on Instagram

Sonnevend, Julia; Steiert, Olivia
New Media & Society

Attention-seeking personal profiles on social media increasingly define successful political communication. But Angela Merkel, during her 16-year chancellorship, has come to stand for the opposite. The first woman to ever fill the office, she built a reputation for rational, evidence-based decision-making and predictable performances. Based on a visual discourse analysis of Angela Merkel?s official Instagram account, this article shows how her authenticity was strategically built through performances of ordinariness and consistency, without relying on more emotional aspects of presentation such as immediacy and intimacy. Instead of shaping her online persona according to the traditions and style of Instagram, Merkel attempted to bend Instagram to host her unique persona. Instead of ?instagramizing? Merkel, she ?merkelized? Instagram. This finding complicates understandings of social media and contemporary politics as being focused on relatability, spectacle, and drama. It also questions the close conceptual connection of authenticity and intimate, emotional representations.