Ahead of India's 16th General (Lok Sabha)
Elections 2014, to be conducted between April and May, major political parties
in the country are going all out to charm the electorate on various social
In recent months politicians have been everywhere,
right from Google+ Hangouts, to televised videos on Facebook and YouTube, and on
WhatsApp to connect with millions of tech-savvy voters.
Political analysts believe that these social
platforms could play a major role in deciding the fate of the winner.
A report from the Internet and Mobile
Association of India (IAMAI) in October last year found that there could be a
vote swing of 3 to 4 percent in as many as 24 states, which constitute a large
chunk of Internet users. The vote swingers can be pre-dominantly young men and
non-working women whose affiliation towards social media is high.
In India, Facebook has around 93 million
users while Twitter has close to 33 million accounts.
As per reports in the media, the ad spending
by the Congress and the BJP, two of the largest parties during this election
will be around Rs.500 crore and Rs.400 crore, respectively. Other regional
parties are expected to spend an additional Rs. 1,000 crore.
For the first time, major political parties have
invested heavily on social media and have earmarked around 2-5 percent of their
election budgets for these platforms, the IAMAI report found.
A report from financial daily Mint last month stated that Indian political parties are moving beyond just having a
presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google Hangouts or YouTube to using Big Data to
influence voters ahead of the general elections.
holding workshops to educate candidates about social media practices, parties
such as the Congress, the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are employing
sophisticated social listening, reputation management and analysis tools to
identify and nurture social media influencers--like those Twitter users who have
specific party leanings and thousands of followers," the Mint
On a personal note, though these parties have
realized the importance of social media and Big Data as tools to fill in the
gaps, there has clearly been a lack in creating an integrated strategy. Only
time will answer whether these platforms are able to create an impact and provide
a shift in the political landscape.
As of now, the only winners in the digital media
battle are the tech and social media companies like Google, Facebook and
Twitter who are expecting their India revenue to rise this year. (Read: Google,
Facebook, Twitter eye Rs. 500 crore social media election pie)
Do you believe that social media and Big Data will create a difference in the outcome of the upcoming elections or is it just another political gimmick?
(Image courtesy: FreeDigitalPhotos.net)