Regional parties go Digital to woo voters

From circulating campaign videos on apps like Sharechat, TikTok, Helo and Samosa, parties have also been creating content for WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter

e4m by Shweta Raaj Singh
Updated: May 2, 2019 9:01 AM

With the General Elections in its last leg, campaigning by political parties has been going in full swing. While the national parties have left no stone unturned, regional parties too have come up with innovative strategies, including entering the Digital landscape for branding and marketing their campaigns. 

Short video apps like Sharechat, TikTok, Helo and Samosa have emerged as the top choices among regional parties. The attempt is to create an impact in a short span. Party volunteers are also being roped in for in-house creative digital campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has even used Dubsmash on the micro-blogging site Twitter for one of their campaigns.
Speaking to exchange4media, E Pedi Reddy, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) Spokesperson, said: “The party has a strong backing in the region and enjoys the following of 4.1 million people. A dedicated team works on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, TikTok and Helo to create content for us.”

Most of the content generated on social media platforms talks about the party’s work towards empowering women, youth and backward segments of the society, Reddy said. “Most of the videos are being shared via Sharechat and WhatsApp,” he added.

The party’s Facebook page has short videos about the work being done by the leaders. With the motto of ‘save democracy, save nation’, the party has been circulating ‘Good Morning messages’ on a daily basis, saying: “Good Morning Yellow Army”. These are being shared by party members on Facebook and Twitter.

Besides tapping on to social media platforms, the party volunteers have also been promoting campaigns through mobile LED screens.  A party volunteer from TDP said the mobile campaign is called "Prachara Radham". As part of this strategy, an LED screen has been mounted atop a vehicle displaying messages of NRIs to the people of Andhra Pradesh. This campaign mode has hit many villages. 
YSRCP’s official party song had clocked over 10 million views on YouTube in March. The song promotes party leader Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy. According to industry insiders, Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC), the organization that executes political strategy, marketing and branding for the party have spent hugely on social media.
The party’s Facebook and Twitter pages have been carrying the party manifesto. Besides, the party has made short videos of their leader’s interactions with the masses and shared them widely via Sharechat.

Sharechat, the Bengaluru-based social networking app, has emerged as one of the top choices for politicians and parties in regional India. The app offers content in 14 regional languages from Bengali to Bhojpuri. According to industry experts, the app has a user base audience aged between 18 and 35, which is also the target audience for political parties. 

Talking about the use of digital mediums and the digital marketing strategy, the spokesperson from Telugu Desam Party’s IT Cell said, “We have dedicated teams working on building video content. Most of our content is being generated by party volunteers. They have been sharing videos about the party’s work on Sharechat. It helps the party reach voters as the content is vernacular and helps generate feedback from our voters.”

“The 30 to 40 second videos are being circulated by sub-party heads in each constituency. Whatsapp groups are being created with the party symbol as the display picture. A core team of 15 to 20 people are handling the social media,” the spokesperson said. 

Talking about the cost of distribution of content and use of digital media agencies, another member said on the condition of anonymity: “TDP has roped in a Telugu commercial film director to create engaging content for its digital and TV channel promotions.”
Spokesperson from YRSCP, Siva, said party cadres have been actively posting updates of the ‘Praja Sankalp Yatra’ on Sharechat and Twitter. 

“The videos have got million views. They focus on the work done by the leaders in the past and include rallies,” added another volunteer.  

In Karnataka, Nikhil Kumaraswamy of Janata Dal Secular has helped party cadres to double his popularity on YouTube. The foot soldiers of the party have promoted Nikhil Kumaraswamy by posting movie songs from his movie ‘Jaguar’. 
In the case of Rashtriya Janta Dal, a dedicated team of over 10 workers have been engaging voters by sharing Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Dubsmash video challenging Narendra Modi. The videos are mostly of 17-second duration and are being shared on WhatsApp. 

A member from RJD’s IT cell said the team analyses voters percentage after posting a campaign on the social media platform, takes into account the retweets, shares and likes on Facebook and Twitter. The team then engages in creating targeted content to attract voters. 

However, industry experts believe that more than the parties it’s their affiliates and followers who are investing heavily on social media.

Flex Boards Go Digital
The regional parties have been also using e-boards or digital boards instead of the traditional flex boards and hoardings. 

Prashantha M, an affiliate of Janta Sena Party (JSP), pointed out that targeted content has been created to portray leaders larger than life. 

Suresh Gowda, a political analyst, told exchange4media that the parties have been given a budget close to Rs 75 lakh for campaigning. It is interesting to note that most of the parties in southern India don’t have to do much in terms of social media campaigning as their fan following is massive and the followers and fans are seen creating pages, making videos which are later circulated on platforms like SHAREit and TikTok.” 

On a spending spree, YSR Congress Party and TDP have been the highest spenders on poll ads on Facebook and other social media marketing strategies. While YSRCP spent more than Rs 80 lakh since February just on Facebook ads, TDP spent Rs 17 lakh in just two weeks before the polls.

Meanwhile, Kerala’s Left Democratic Front decided to boost their marketing efforts on social media by sponsoring posts on their official Facebook pages to a tune of Rs 4.4 lakh between April 7 and April 13.

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