Friday, January 03, 2014

Impact of Social Media on the Indian General Elections 2014

           Two weeks back, one of my roommates was discussing that he had been approached by the local Haryana MP to spearhead his social media campaign, essentially design the strategy for online branding and awareness. Having had considerable experience in social media campaigning for an eCommerce giant, he thought this was a good chance to see how that actually impacted people at the grassroots. The target was the General Elections 2014 and the MP in question was 3 time elected from his constituency, but this time it was different. He was going to defect from his party and move to the rival camp. Hence the added complication and need for branding.
          8 Dec 2013 was a red-letter day in Indian politics. Delhi, a state where Congress was ruling for 15 years straight, had given a verdict against the incumbent, handing them a mere 11% of seats.
Although the anti-incumbency factor was strong, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) undoubtedly was a greatest benefactor of that, what surprised everyone was that the newest kid in the block, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) got 100% more seats than what anyone (media personalities, opinion polls, even their supporters) had predicted. It was nothing short of a miracle. A movement which was started by a Padma Bhushan awardee turned social activist, then carried forward by the vision of a IITan turned Income tax officer and backed by supporters who were fed up of the current state of Indian politics and the neglect of the middle class by the ruling class had achieved something substantial where it mattered. The AAP had utilized all kinds of legitimate resources at their disposal to create the awareness, the motivation and the passion to turn a socialist movement from a mere agitation to a government. From being outside the system and criticizing it, they are now in the system to clean, recreate and instill trust in it.
If one analyzes the methods the AAP had used to create the loyal following that they had, one would recall the days when the India Against Corruption movement in Jantar Mantar was going nowhere. Anna Hazare's fasting was not yielding anything from the government who simply turned a blind eye to the demands. The crowds were thinning and the media coverage too. The movement had to turn into something else. Upon the request of eminent personalities, the movement's team organized a opinion poll using Social media, online networking services. The verdict was to politicize the movement and then AAP was formed. The rest is history. Such is the power of social media, and awareness it can create that even governments were forced to change or become extinct.
What has happened because of this success is that everyone is sitting up and taking notice of this. The old school methods of postering, shouting at rallies, then paying off voters is paving way for new ways of campaigning. I was talking to my roommate as he was framing the roadmap for his candidate (the 3 time MP), he was talking of not just creating a facebook page and having discussions there, which by the way is still novice to majority of the political class, but having other channels of spreading propaganda. He was talking about how to involve more people with his MP, about how to engage them and create more followers. Facebook was the first thing on the list. Usually the fan page is present, but not much activity
Arvind Kejriwal's facebook fan page.
Photo courtesy:
happens apart from small posts. My friend's plan to rejuvenate was to create opinion polls. A very simple and basic method to get feedback from followers who were already on his page. Its amazing how such a simple technique can get you so many answers. Then create targeted campaigns like online events where discussions and promotions took place. This was to engage the followers to participate in the decision making process, a highly successful technique used by AAP and Modi.
With more than 40 mn users, twitter is the next social media channel that was on the list. Small updates, promoting twitter hashtag of his MP, answering queries and issues of followers is a must.
The next was to have more interviews of his MP with media houses and sharing them in youtube and other
Narendra Modi youtube channel.
Photo courtesy:
channels. Its a method used to propagate the agenda of the candidates. With a whopping 50mn+ users in India, youtube streaming is definitely a channel you can't ignore. Cross promotion of videos on other channels also adds to the traffic.
With the advent of smartphones, autographs have been replaced by photographs and instagram pages where you share the coverage of various events participated by the MP was next on the list. A subtle but high-recall channel, primarily because its visual and not text.
Blogging and sharing articles on facebook, linkedin etc was next on the list for the more serious fan following, people who had more time to get a full idea of the policy plans of the MP.
A highly successful but tough channel was to create a dedicated app for the MP. The app gets the dedicated share of mind of the users and ensures that promotion blasts could be tracked properly. But tough because creating a good, user-friendly and content rich app is expensive.
I sure hope that my roommate does well in this role and gets maximum success for his MP. The list is long, the channels are a lot and a lot of work is required to monitor each platform and ensure that each have the same message. Tough but not impossible.


About Me

My Photo
Abhishek Saha
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
A NRB (Non Resident Bengali) or rather a 'Probashi Bangali'; born in Kolkata, brought up in Jamshedpur and now trying to make his mark at IIM Lucknow.
View my complete profile

Lord reads

Lord's Followers

Lord's visitors

Lord's tweets

    follow me on Twitter
    Powered by Blogger.