BJP’s massive success at the Lok Sabha elections proved how important social media is when it comes to election campaigning. With the Maharashtra state elections just around the corner, all political parties have continued their aggressive push on social media.
“What is different is that we have seen more individuals within parties using social media. Every single MLA has been making efforts to reach out to his/her electorate,” said Gautamm Mehra, Head of Social Media at iProspect2 Communicate.
According to research by Simplify360, the BJP has generated the most buzz on both Facebook and Twitter with more than 880,000 followers and nearly 150,000 tweets over the last 30 days. Surprisingly, the Shiv Sena and the MNS, two parties with a strong support base in the state have not had too many conversations around them. The Shiv Sena has 9,329 followers with 1,064 tweets while the MNS has 2,817 followers with just over 500 mentions. The performance on Facebook is pretty much similar too.
“BJP seems to be a frontrunner in the Maharashtra Elections, and Modi’s use of proven agenda of supporting economic reform has seen good traction in social media,” said Bhupendra Kanal, CEO and Founder of Simplify360.
But though the BJP campaign might be getting a lot of traction, there is a lack of localized content, which has been a common issue with all the parties, said Mehra. Though BJP recently changed the tonality of its TV campaigns, the same strategic approach has not been seen in the social media campaigns this time. Despite this, their main campaign hashtag #BJPMaha has gotten more than 43,000 mentions in the last 30 days, much higher than their political rivals.
Shiv Sena’s #Mission150 also received more than 83,000 in the past 30 days, the highest among any of the parties and the Aditya Thackeray seems to have generated quite a fan following on Twitter with nearly 132,000 followers.
In terms of sentiment, all the four major political parties, i.e. BJP, Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena, seem to have had predominantly negative senti ment, if the mentions are anything to go by. This is a little surprising, since even during the Lok Sabha elections, we had not seen such a high disparity in the positive and negative sentiment.
Below is the study done by Meltwater on social sentiment in the last 30 days.
A reason for this could be that though usage of social media has increased, candidates and political parties are still looking at it as a one-way street. “Digital has traditionally not played an important role for politicians since they consider it more of an ATL medium. Also, most of them are scared of it because it is a two way communication. We are not seeing politicians spend a lot of time on the medium interacting with their followers. They still use it as a broadcast medium,” opined Mehra.
Interestingly enough, given that targeted and localized content is paramount in any regional elections, the parties have been using Marathi as a language to communicate with their audience. According to research agency Meltwater Inc., the BJP leads in terms of total tweets in Marathi (7,346) and Shiv Sena is second with 6,442 tweets.
“Considering the importance of the local language in state we had also set up searches in Marathi language too. It was surprising to note that over the last 30 days around 20,000 conversations were in Marathi over social media and more than 75000 conversations in English.
Based on the current number it is BJP which is leading in Social Media in both Marathi & English mentions,” said Nitin Bhatia, Director, Agency Partnerships, Indian Sub Continent, Meltwater Inc.