What is Net Neutrality and why has it led to upheaval among internet users across India?
Social Media in this election season has taken Freedom of Speech for the masses to a level where those who propounded this ideology had dreamed of. Keeping a keen eye on this, political parties from all phases have spruced up their Social Media involvement. Shashi Tharoor, a prominent Indian tweeter mentioned that before the election phase, he was the most popular personality on Twitter in Indian Politics. After which came Narendra Modi to the fore along with Arvind Kejriwal and then followed the clan of Political heavyweights flocking the digital platform to canvass and make an impact on the youth.
In fact the election commission themselves urged politicians to take to this platform, make themselves visible and increase spending on Social Media.
Could this then be a Social Media driven election?
Hard to say considering less than 1/4th of the electorate has access to social media. But this is much more than what it was in 2009. There are 93 million Monthly active users (MAU) on Facebook and 33 million MAU on Twitter at present.
So how likely is it a platform to influence your vote?
On the user side
As a core disseminator of information, Social Media platforms like Twitter see users conversing, @mentioning and reaching out to active Indian Twitter Politicians. This from Smriti Irani to Sushma Swaraj, Modi to Kejriwal, Omar Abdullah to Rajiv Chandrasekhar, Mallika Sarabhai to Meera Sanyal are all socially active at the forefront of their campaigns.
For the past month the Mumbai and Delhi Twitter trends column has seen #ISupportAAP, #Modi, #AbKiBaarModiSarkaar, Sonia Gandhi etc. commonly trending Evidently the reach of social media goes far beyond the users themselves.
With online debates and chai-wallas hosting TV broadcasts in areas with lesser access, the masses are actively participating. Political blogs like the apolitical blog ‘Wah Sarkar’, All voices and India opines too have become conspicuous.
So there definitely is prominence if not dominance of Social Media in the road to Elections 2014.
On the Politician side
It started off with the big guns taking to Twitter and website of their own. But this was just the start.
With the election commission laying emphasis on Social Media the ad spend went up automatically with each party allocating at least 5% of their budget to Social Media campaigns, hiring Social Media agencies.
Point to be noted: “The scope for corruption and swindling funds is minimal with Social Media ads as the system for these ads automatically provides for transparency. This is so, because payments for these ads are routed through official bank accounts of the ad holder.”
The image below elaborates How Campaigners can use Facebook ads.
– BJP innovated this mechanism with unique electioneering tools allowing voters to listen to Modi’s rally speeches in real time on their phones from anywhere in India.
– Kejriwal and gang innovated with the infamous Indian ‘missed call’. Here citizens could give the party a missed call and members of the party would then get in touch with and enroll them as members.
– In fact Google themselves have devised their Indian Politics and Election page reaching out to internet savvy users with updates and newsflashes on what’s going on.
Further, Mumbai and Delhi based Social Media Publishing agency Social Samosa along with telecom brand launched the election tracker.
This aggregates data from multiple Social Media sources like Facebook comments and Tweets on Twitter with which politician is being spoken to the most. It also tracks the sentiment of the tweets to see how much negativity is stirring up.
From 5-11 March, the election tracker showed that AAP had the maximum number of followers (551,361) on Twitter and the Congress had garnered the most mentions (3,086) on the social site that nudges users to communicate in short, 140-character phrases. (Source: Livemint)
With the kick-off for election 2014 just days away, political clout has spread far and wide. What’s your take on Social Media and its influence this season? Did it influence you in any way?