Growing importance of politics on social media

Growing importance of politics on social media
Highlights

Growing Importance of Politics on Social Media. Rallies, rhetoric, posters and banners – these are the tools politicians use to fight each other during and post elections. This time, there is another tool that is going to see most of the action

Rallies, rhetoric, posters and banners – these are the tools politicians use to fight each other during and post elections. This time, there is another tool that is going to see most of the action: Social media. Cyberspace is seen as a crucial battleground for the election, before and after campaigning.

If you are eligible to vote and use Facebook, don't be surprised if your timeline gets carpet-bombed by political overtures in the next few days.

As political parties throng social networking platforms to woo voters, internet giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter are looking for their slice of an estimated Rs100 crore digital spending pie for this Lok Sabha polls as the campaigning through social media is happening in the city for Telangana and Seemandhra.

Notwithstanding traditional media outlets like on-ground political rallies and speeches, social media's word-of-mouth novelty factor is ensuring leaders are on top of the mind for online citizens.

“YouTube is playing a central role in this - as it overcomes the language barrier and political parties are able to engage users through audio-visual medium in local languages,” says Mehr of Digital Media.

“We recognise the potential of social media ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections,” tells Ballalah, corporator from the MIM party.

"The need of the hour is to go for a massive viral campaign. Major of our campaigning was through social sites. All Congress members, especially those below the age of 50, have been asked to remain active on social media and add as many users from the state as they can to their Facebook and Twitter accounts,” said Krishna Reddy, a relative of a Congress minister. “From Google Hangouts with overseas citizens to online political debates organised by Facebook, politicians in the city have turned to social media to woo voters ahead of this year’s general election,” says Kavitha from the TRS who is contesting from Nizamabad.

Though in her constituency the number of Twitter and Facebook users are far less, she still tweets with her friends and well wishers in the city.

There are examples of how online terminologies are shaping public discourses. For instance, the Twitter hashtags ‘Pappu’ for Rahul Gandhi and ‘Feku’ for Narendra Modi, have grown into well recognised nicknames offline too. There is a pun in these nicknames for the intelligent and the tech savvy.

Most of the activity happens on Facebook pages. There are close to 52,000 pages for politicians and political parties in India, according to data provided by the company and 60 of these are ‘verified’ pages.

A 2013 study by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) indicates that there are 160 ‘high impact’ constituencies out of 543, where social media will not only influence voter turnout but also sway poll results by 3–4 per cent. This impact is not limited to metros and tier-I cities, because a third of India’s social media traffic comes from towns with populations of less than 5,00,000.

The social media network is also being used by parties looking to sign up volunteers and increasing party membership. Social media sites are here and they are growing steadily in popularity – campaigns must be engaged and involved in a way that helps the candidate win without draining too many resources from other campaign activities.

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