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How BJP gained the edge in the social media battle

17-April-2014
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How BJP gained the edge in the social media battle

The BJP and its prime ministerial candidate seem to be the flavour of the season. Over the last few months, the party’s relentless campaigning on social media platforms such as  Twitter and Facebook have paid dividends as they have consistently topped in terms of popularity and favourability. Ironically, even Arvind Kejriwal, a leader who popularised the Twitter wave in politics, seems to have been left behind.

exchange4media takes a look at some of the reasons behind BJP’s great performance online:

First-mover advantage
While the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) might probably have been the first party to have a dedicated fan base on social networks and the Indian National Congress (INC) was promoting itself through mass media, the BJP quietly built up its fan base on Twitter and Facebook slowly and steadily. With the Congress apparently not considering the digital space as the best medium to reach out to their target audience, the BJP were the first among political parties to start approaching social media from the perspective of the general elections, and this momentum that they built has been useful in recent months.

Clear social strategy
In fact, the entire digital strategy utilised by Narendra Modi and Co has been incredibly professionally managed. In April, the Indian Express reported how the new BJP strategy was to focus on the PM candidate Narendra Modi on social media. As part of their social media initiatives, the BJP also held workshops on social media and the elections, which were promoted through Samvaad’s Facebook page. “The BJP has worked exactly like how any large business would when it comes to handling its social media,” opined Vang Lian, Head of Analysis, Simlify360. The Indian Express claims that 400 coordinators and over 1,000 volunteers have been assigned the task of promoting Narendra Modi’s views on social networks.

Proactive contribution by party members
Though Modi is the poster child of BJP’s social media campaign, other important leaders and party co-ordinators have also been highly active on the social media front. Whether it is tweeting their own thoughts or writing blogs and Facebook posts or just mutually amplifying Modi’s posts. Lian credits this to a well co-ordinated IT cell working behind the scene. “They (BJP) reach out to individuals through emails, Twitter, Facebook, etc. They have positioned themselves such that either people hate them or love them, which gives them a lot of visibility. In media, any buzz helps,” he added. In comparison, Congress’ main leadership has been strangely shy about talking on social media. AAP continues to be the most talked about with its leaders taking pains to be active in sharing their thoughts, though there seems to be a lack of any real co-ordination between them.

Catchy hashtags
Remember the virality that #AbkiBaarModi and #GharGharNamo received? The interesting thing was that these hashtags were being used by even people who were neutral. Yes, there were some negative connotations (#AbkiBaarModiKiHaar, being one) that also got publicity, but using hashtags which were catchy and appealed to the creative instincts of people helped give BJP a massive boost in terms of buzz generated.

“BJP seems to have a strategy that involves many people and different types of content that they are posting all the time,” said Sanjay Mehta, Co-CEO of Social Wavelength. He further added that the extensive enthusiasm being show by supporters could also be a double-edged sword. “Many of the parties’ fans are also jumping into the bandwagon without much thought and doing what they think is best for their favourite party. Most times, they are over-enthusiastic and not always on the right track, which also gives the party that they are supporting a bad name, in consequence,” he remarked. 

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