The BJP is sparing no efforts to woo the all important Andhra Pradesh voter base. Even as the Lok Sabha is set to discuss the all important Telangana issue today (February 18, 2014), P Muralidhar Rao, the National General Secretary of the BJP sent out mass emailers the previous night on his party’s behalf, inviting viewers to follow him on Facebook and Twitter. The emailer asked viewers to write in with their comments, suggestions and criticisms.
Meanwhile, the Congress, after announcing big money spend on marketing activities, seems to have finally realised the importance of digital media. Over the last few weeks, the party has worked towards improving its Twitter and Facebook accounts. The party had also announced recently that it will be starting its own direct personalised mailers soon. Personalised mailers were extensively used by US President Barrack Obama during his own election campaign and it seems Indian parties are taking a leaf out of his successes.
The BJP has a good track record when it comes to its digital outreach programmes, including having regular social media interactions and hosting a Google + Hangout with Narendra Modi. It has left rival Congress much behind in the social media space, with only the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) having better statistics on Twitter. Currently, the BJP has upwards of 3.5 lakh followers on Twitter and around 24 lakh fans on Facebook. This does not include followers of individual leaders. In comparison, the Congress has just around 31,000 Twitter followers and about 16 lakh Facebook fans.
With the rapid democratisation brought about by the digital medium, many commentators agree that social media will be one of the key influencers in this year’s General Elections. Social media platforms are likely to be influential in 160 of India’s 543 Parliamentary constituencies, making Facebook and Twitter users the nation’s newest voting bloc, according to an IAMAI survey released in April this year. Even political leaders have realised this, with many of them utilising the services of professional third party social media experts or even freelance professionals to carry out their social media work.