India Witnesses First Social Media Prime Minister in Narendra Modi

India got its first social media prime minister in Narendra Modi.  The three time chief minister of Gujarat will soon sworn as the 15th prime minister of India after his landslide victory trouncing the ruling United Progressive Alliance led by Congress. During the general election 2014, Narendra Modi became the second most-liked politician on Facebook behind only  Barack Obama, president of United States of America. Obama is also popularly called “first Social Media President of USA”.

Modi’s tweet proclaiming the victory of the Bharitya Janta Party(BJP) is testament to the fact that people are connecting with political leaders online.  The tweet  has become the most retweeted tweet from India in Twitter’s history. Till May 18, 2014, it has received 68,750  retweets and had been favourited 29,000 times.

 

Maximum RT and Favourited  tweet in India till now.  Pic: Twitter

Maximum RT and Favourited tweet in India till now.
Pic: Twitter

This was the first social media election for 1.2 billion strong India with the advent of Social Media giants in India, namely Facebook and Twitter, whose users run into million from urban areas to rural areas. Modi  from Bhartiya Janta Party gets the credit for first initiator on social media platforms when most of the politicians were busy ridiculing the emerging social media tools as “waste of time” and impersonal way to connect to masses. Even, Lalu Prasad Yadav, former chief minister of Bihar, known for his rustic behaviour fell for Twitter. He is now an active twitter user keeping intact his humour on the micro blogging site.  Earlier, he had criticized the use of social media.  In run up to the elections,  Facebook, the US based social media giant came up with  dedicated  Facebook ELECTION TRACKER to monitor political conversation on elections in India.

According to Facebook, “From the day elections were announced to the day polling ended, 29 million people conducted 227 million interactions (posts, comments, shares, and likes) regarding the elections on Facebook. In addition, 13 million people conducted 75 million interactions regarding  Narendra Modi.”

 Modi has 14.3 million fans — The Fastest-Growing Number on FACEBOOK  and  4,158,031 followers on TWITTER , the micro blogging site

In India,  814 million were eligible voters, and the interest in this year election was palpable — a record breaking 66% voter turn -out.In few of the parliamentary constituencies in Gujarat,  the voter turnout  crossed 70 %.  There is no denying to the fact that people, young & old are  turning to popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to talk  & engage on politics. In India, Facebook already had relatively high penetration in India, with 100 million active users.  According to published article in Quartz “On April 30—the day that 89 of India’s 543 constituencies went to the polls—696,000 election-related tweets were sentSince Jan1, the breakdown of tweets for the various national candidates/parties has been 34% for Narendra Modi or his Bharatiya Janata Party, 27% for Arvind Kejriwal or the Aam Admi Party, 4% for Rahul Gandhi or the Indian National Congress.”

The Facebook Election Tracker sums up the story well for elections in India- BJP and Narendra Modi tops the chart, while congress stood at last behind the newbie Aam Aadmi Party, on the last day of the elections.

BJP and Modi tops the chart, congress at the bottom.  Credit: India Tracker/Facebook India

BJP and Modi tops the chart, congress at the bottom.
Credit: India Tracker/Facebook India

The general elections 2014  reemphasized the fact that do not  underestimate the power of a tweet or a post in this globally wireless connected world! Modi landslide victory has proved all the social media critics wrong, especially his political opponents who we were more critical of his communication strategy of using social media extensively.

Social networking giant #Facebook said “29 million people in India have made 227 million interactions through posts, comments, shares, and likes about the elections from the day they were announced.

General Elections 2014 on Facebook  Credit : FacebookIndia

General Elections 2014 on Facebook
Credit : FacebookIndia

Rahul Gandhi, scion of Gandhi family and the face of Indian National Congress (INC) during general elections has no social media presence. Despite the fact that, he  is the young face of  Congress.

Today youth in India is social media mobile & savvy. They are tweeting, posting, sharing  from everything under the Sun.This time, youths were very much part of this elections and they participated in a big way.  They are vociferously demanding for a better future, jobs and amenities.During Modi’s victory speech in Vadodara, the parliamentary constituency from where Modi won by a margin of over 5 lakh votes, he gave due credit to role of social media in spreading the message  of ab ki baar Modi sarkaar far and wide”

Narendra Modi respecting the power of social media in his victory speech has stated that- “Due to social media, lies & false promises of several leaders could not go beyond the podiums of their rallies! More power to social media ,”

It is yet to be seen how social media euphoria translates into real work on ground level.  This will be watched closely by online & offline !



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Can Modi Do a Barack Obama in General Elections 2014 ?

Social media in India is an evolving trend, and this general elections result might start a new discourse for elections to come. However, it will be interesting to wait and watch, whether the popular online sentiments, and the millions likes, thousands of share and million tweets can translates into REAL VOTES .

A comparative analysis of USA President Barack Obama and BJP Prime Minister candidate, Narendra Modi in General Elections 2014

 

Can #NaMo do a Barack Obama in 2014 Generation Elections in India ?

Posts, tags, views, shares on popular social media platforms are fuelling the political debate in the country today. Not a single day gone by, when a  tweet from politician has not become trending topic, even controlling the day agenda whether it is newspapers or in TV debates.The politicians jumped to the bandwagon of Social Media in the last one  year after the hype created by Narendra Modi’s (NaMo) social media campaign and the mainstream media highlighting it. Most of the politicians still have no clue on how to make the maximum use of power of Social Media except few likes of  union minister Shashi Tharoor, among the first to be active on social media platforms & former central minister Ajay Maken who is now spearheading Congress response to Modi on social media platforms.The only thing that most of the politicians understand is the number of likes that they have on their Facebook  page or the number  of followers on twitter, etc. For them it’s just a number game, but in reality its counter productive as most of the numbers that you see for politicians are the numbers that are bought through countless sites selling you fans & followers.

Modi’s Social Media Foot Prints

Modi’s  social media setup was done in May 2009 when FB just started penetrating in India and he and his team had the vision to build it from that instance. The major spurt in NaMo social media has come in last 9-10 months, where from a million fans in November 2012, he is now at nearly 3.2 million fans on FB alone. Twitter has 2.16 million followers which has again increased by nearly 1.2 million in last one year.

His social media footprints are omnipresent- Be it Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, Pinterest, Tumblr, Flickr, Stumbleupon and also specially designed downloadable android, iphone & ipad application. His official promotional website video in succinct tone invites users to have a ‘direct connect’ with him through social media platforms.

Modi’s social media strategy?  Personalized & engaging tweets. He tweets in English & Hindi and in 12  other different languages including Urdu. Regular Face book post updates. Connecting on Google Hangouts. And his very own YouTube channel with over 17 million views. Today, Modi  is aiming for the highest office in one of the largest democracy. And  he is leaving no stone unturned to connect to billion plus India, majority comprising of young population. More than half of  1.2 billion people are under the age of 25, and two-thirds are below 35. According to an estimate, 85 percent of young India is connected through social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter.

The Politics of Tweets & FB Posts

Youths & their issues are focal point & recurring theme  of all Modi’s political speeches  since his elevation as BJP Election Campaign Committee Chief. For example, Modi for his  Pune speech requested through Social Media  platforms for ideas and suggestions for that speech.Modi is  utilizing & exploiting social network platform  as a means of encouraging youth engagement, direct feedback system  —has allowed him to create a conversation, and often times an open dialogue, with the public. However, whether this click of mouse for ‘Like’ or ‘Retweet’ on Modi’s popular post or tweets will translate into crucial vote for him or BJP during upcoming General elections is yet to be seen.

Juggernaut of the Political cyber Warriors

According to sources-The NaMo Social Media campaign is headed by an Officer on Special Duty(OSD) under direct & close supervision of Narendra Modi and an entire team is set up at Chief Minister Office in Gandhinagar for creating content, tracking responses, selecting the best responses, ideas, etc. and sharing with Narendra Modi. The team uses latest tools to shuffle through the enormous responses generated to Narendra Modi’s posts and tweets and tracks each and every moment that is happening online related to Narendra Modi.

Apart from the in-house team, NaMo has thousands of dedicated volunteers spread across India, who spearhead his campaign and make it go viral or if there is an attack on him, then create the counter attack and spread it across the Social Media Channels. One of the young volunteers who is part of clandestine social media gatherings apart from core team who wished not to be named stated it is more to do with “emotions than monetary benefits”.

As one of the close associates quips that the next phase for NaMo is taking the likes to convert into votes through major interaction online. Others are still juggling with numbers forget about the interactions. To support the claim, there is a clear comparison between the comments that each post or tweet receives and no other politician in India is even remotely close to Narendra Modi’s interaction level.

The Most mentioned politician

In the recently released  June edition of ‘Blogworks India’s Most Mentioned Political Leaders’ -Narendra Modi continues to be at the top with contrasting conversations happening on having  ‘maintained law and order in Gujarat since 2003 resulting in the state remaining riot-free’, and ‘about his alleged role in the 2002 riots and criticized his communal  image’.  Blogworks analyses online mentions of  the top 20 political leaders in India. Modi comes across as a polarizing figure on social media platforms too. There are only two kinds of people exists online who debates on & around Modi- One die-hard Modi Fans and other Modi bashers. There is no middle ground.

Whether Like & Share Converts into Crucial Votes

20-social-media-icons

India’s large population and increasing tele-density, especially in urban pockets, has spurred an impressive jump in the number of people online. Moreover, a recent report released by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and IRIS Knowledge Foundation has revealed that of India’s 543 parliamentary constituencies, 160 can be termed as ‘high impact’ — that is, they will most likely be influenced by social media in the next general elections. As the report explains, high impact constituencies are those where the numbers of Facebook users are more than the margin of victory of the winner in the last Lok Sabha election, or where Facebook users account for over 10 per cent  of the voting population. The study then goes onto declares 67 constituencies as medium-impact, 60 as low-impact and 256 as no-impact constituencies.

The fastest growing market for FB is India and currently there are around 88 Million users in India and out of that nearly 76 Million users who are eligible to vote. These figures are what is pushing Indian politicians to the frenzy and everyone wants a big piece out of the Social Media cake.

The major focus of the NaMo team is to generate offline activism from the online interaction and nudge the online community to start offline campaigns too. The focus is to generate buzz for maximum youth participation in the coming election as that is what can be a big game changer. As on online front, Narendra Modi has clear edge over all the politicians in India. In fact his online fan base on FB is more than the combined strength of top 10 opposition leaders in the country. His messages generate response, his messages are shared, discussed, interacted and this is helping him to add to his fan following in big way. There is also a strategy going on where lots of popular Narendra Modi pages are getting merged with the official page of Narendra Modi, which is also resulting in increase of fans and also it helps in consolidation of the online structure.

Internet, a Rarity & Privilege in 1.2 billion Strong India

However, in  a 21-nation survey conducted by the US-based nonpartisan fact tank- Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project in 2012, quote – ‘India ranked near the bottom in use of social networking sites, along with its neighbor,Pakistan. Just six percent of respondents in India said they use social networking sites. An overwhelming 89 per cent  said they do not use the internet at all. Notably, a majority of Indians who use the internet are using social networking sites. Just 13 per cent of Indians use the internet, according to International Telecommunication Union. The internet still remains a rarity in India’. The same study says, that 65 per cent American adult has an access to internet.

Apart from Social Media, Narendra Modi is also setting trends in use of digital technology to the maximum. His own mobile app is getting regular downloads now and it’s a clear case that he is leading the way in use of technology while the rest are trying to replicate what he is doing.

Another team member of Narendra Modi said, “I think with traditional media you used to get just one message out to the public and it didn’t have that feedback response; with the social web you can see how those conversations are actually happening and it’s an opportunity for them to engage. Social media has a great potential in bringing democracy to every citizen’s home, but we first need to motivate people to participate.”

NaMo has given a clarion call during his Hyderabad speech, with co-opted lines of US President Barack Obama- ‘Yes we can. Yes we will’. Can NaMo do a Barack Obama ? Only 2014 parliamentary election results will tell. Till then enjoy the social media political war games !

Featured in Sunday Spotlight Section of Deccan Herald- August 25, 2013

Featured in Sunday Spotlight Section of Deccan Herald- August 25, 2013

By -Kumar Manish(@kumarmanish9),  Communications & Social Media Strategist & Co -initiator of Open Hours.co.in, a social initiative to bring diverse views on future of social media and Akshay Sethia Chief Executive Officer  of  a digital marketing firm based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat .