Guest Column: Social media & politics - The new age political revolution

Leading from Facebook updates to Tweets to YouTube videos and appeals, social media has become a yet another significant tool for political campaigns and also for supporters

e4m by Windchimes Communications
Updated: Jan 24, 2014 4:52 PM
Guest Column: Social media & politics - The new age political revolution

Social media is changing the way communications happen and has undoubtedly become a major aspect of political campaigns too. It may be recalled that in the 2008 Presidential elections, US President Barack Obama was the first candidate to use it effectively. Since then, the use of this extremely useful platform has grown with the increasing number of people using it to publicise their political views. Leading from Facebook updates to Tweets to YouTube videos and appeals, social media has become a yet another significant tool for political campaigns and also for supporters.

Millions of people, especially youth, are actively present on social platforms. Thus, social media opens the doors of opportunity to reach out to and stay connected with voters persistently at a very low cost. This is the reason political campaigns include social media in their marketing strategy.

Politicians, as part of their social media strategy, create posts to engage followers just like brands do. The main idea is to create content that people share, help in fundraising purposes, create awareness of what is happening during elections etc., and determine where do the candidates stand.

These days Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party founder Arvind Kejriwal, who is followed by more than 1.1 million people on Twitter, deals with it and finds time to tweet and retweet to those with whom he shares his views of a corruption-free society.

Followed by Kejriwal, there’s Narendra Modi, Gujarat Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party’s Prime Ministerial candidate with 3.1 million followers on Twitter. For Modi to shape opinion, this has become an effective tool.

On January 14, 2014, Modi tweeted his picture with actor Salman Khan. The two had met in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, and flew kites on the occasion of Uttarayan. The same day Modi also wasted no time in greeting all on the occasion of Id-e-Milad. He also wished those celebrating Pongal, Bhogali Bihu and Lohri, all harvest festivals in different states.

With the emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party, the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and many other political developments taking place, political parties and politicians are ready to watch out for these trends and go to a place where people looking for a change would assemble, and that is Social Media.

The current scenario
Political campaigns help build a connection with voters: Mostly, whatever happens on social media related to political campaigns are not interactions or back-and- forth dialogues with voters, but a hope that these posts or messages will get voters to vote in some way. Though candidates may or may not be directly replying or communicating on these social media platforms, but they could very well view the responses or opinions on the subjects or issues they post.

Social media strategy for the political campaign: When one sits back and analyses, one will find that a person’s vote also gets affected a lot depending on the views shared by that person’s friends, family, groups, etc., basically that’s the way social media works here.

Today, the time has arrived when people with interests in politics and political campaigns and related stuff are actively subscribing to candidates on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and those who aren’t just get to see the posts ‘liked’ by their friends who are politically active. Politically savvy people are a source of information for those without much interest.

A candidate might have millions of subscribers or followers, but because of the viral effect due to social media presence, it may reach to 100 million. Therefore, the use of social media in the political campaigns is not only important but very much critical too.

What Next?
One needs to be on social media, but one cannot be just on it as it’s not just a means to reach out to the desired target group, but it should be a part of the major campaign strategy.

The use of social media in the political sphere attracts quick feedback, interaction or policy ideas. It gives an instant read on how something would shape up.

If used to make a good conversation, Twitter is a fantastic medium.

Lastly, if a candidate is on social media, one will have to maintain a certain level of decency and decorum on the same. It’s a great medium and the political parties should use it to clearly put across their propagandas or agendas in order to inform the people or voters about what the party is doing.

Social Media is a very powerful medium and, therefore, political parties should use it to promote their party and their work. That’s because, with huge number of people and the rising speed of communication, the impact of these campaigns is also high. 

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