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 !



Global Media Reacts on NARENDRA MODI Landslide Win in Indian Elections

The media reaction to landslide victory of BJP in general elections 2014. Photo  : Siddhanth Suchit

The media reaction to landslide victory of BJP in general elections 2014.
Photo :Reuters

A  Quick analysis of front page headlines from popular newspaper/TV in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, USA & UK’s on verdict given by 1.2 billion strong India. It is interesting to read the tone & tenor in these headlines! The Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), the main opposition party in India had a landslide victory winning 285 seats out of 543 parliamentary constituencies. The BJP lead National Democratic Alliance won 340 seats. BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will be next prime minister of India.

India

BJP Aaandhi Flattens Clan Gandhi- Times of India 

India Places its Faith in Moditva- Times of India

Hunkaar Tally- Hindustan Times 

MODI- Indian Express 

India is Modi. Modi is India- Economic Times

MODI’S Moment – MINT 

Prime Minister Modi – The Hindu

Pakistan

BJP knocks out Congres- The Dawn

Modi wave sweeps India- The Nation 

Modi storms to historic win in Indian elections-Pakistan Observer

Bangladesh

Modi wins landslide victory: The Daily Star,Bangladesh

Landslide win for Modi, BJP- Dhaka Tribune,Bangladesh 

Modi crushes the fort of Congress- The Bangladesh Today

USA

Congress Party Concedes Defeat as India Backs Modi-The

New York Times 

Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi heads to victory in Indian

election- Washington Post 

Narenda Modi Is India’s Next Leader-The Wire 

Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi claims victory as India’s

next Prime Minister- CNN

India’s Narendra Modi leads conservatives to election day

victory- Chicago Day Tribune 

India’s pro-business Modi storms to historic election win- Reuters 

Landslide win for Indian opposition party- USA Today

England

Congress admits India poll defeat- BBC

Modi wins landslide victory in Indian election- The Daily Star/Reuters

Narendra Modi wins India election with landslide victory- The Telegraph 

Narendra Modi’s landslide victory shatters Congress’s grip on India – The

Guardian

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

 

General Elections 2014 in India, A Litmus Test for Social Media

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 .

Communicate Karo

This  General Elections 2014  in India is going to be a litmus test for Social Media too, other than the traditional political rhetoric .  The expansion  & reach of social media platforms have grown phenomenally in last five years in India.  In  General Elections, held in year  2009,  social media has no influence & reach . In  General Election in 2014, social media is buzzword among politicians and electorate alike.  For many of the electoral battle in urban  India,  Face book likes and Tweets  will be a deciding factor in winning or losing of a candidate.

General Elections 2014- A social Media Litmus test

According to a report published in April 2013 by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and the Mumbai-based Iris Knowledge Foundation, Face book users will “wield a tremendous influence” over the results of the polls in 160 social media sensitive constituencies of India’s 543 parliamentary  constituencies.

 The two popular social…

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General Elections 2014 in India, A Litmus Test for Social Media

This  General Elections 2014  in India is going to be a litmus test for Social Media too, other than the traditional political rhetoric .  The expansion  & reach of social media platforms have grown phenomenally in last five years in India.  In  General Elections, held in year  2009,  social media has no influence & reach . In  General Election in 2014, social media is buzzword among politicians and electorate alike.  For many of the electoral battle in urban  India,  Face book likes and Tweets  will be a deciding factor in winning or losing of a candidate.

General Elections 2014- A social Media Litmus test

According to a report published in April 2013 by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and the Mumbai-based Iris Knowledge Foundation, Face book users will “wield a tremendous influence” over the results of the polls in 160 social media sensitive constituencies of India’s 543 parliamentary  constituencies.

 The two popular social media platforms, Face book, with over 90 million users  and twitter, a micro blogging site, has over 33 million  users in India. With less than two day to  go for General Elections 2014,  one of the big question remains how much social media  will influence the outcome of  elections in India ?

 Young & social media active voters in India 

General elections in India are BIG but this time it is also YOUNG.  According to Election  Commission of India,  the total electorate  is approx.  814.5 million compared to 713 million in 2009. This  marks an increase of more than 100 million electorate.

There has been a remarkable increase in the enrollment of electors in the age group of 18 to 19  years. Over 23 million electors are in this age group. Electors in the age group of 18 to 19 years now constitute 2.88% of total electors, against 0.75% in 2009.

So, there is major push from political parties to “Catch them Young”  voters,  and what better place than social media platforms.  According to  We are Social, over 213 million  Indians  are using the internet,  17  per cent of total population and approx 94  percent of these are on Face book, 78 per cent on Google plus,  and 67 per cent on Twitter. The Mobile internet penetration  has reached  to 11  per cent. The  young populace  are spending over 2 hours and 26 minutes  on an average on social media.

Political Parties Hitching to Social Media Bandwagon

The main two political parties- Bharitya Janta Party(BJP), the first mover on social media platform,  &  Congress  have invested highly in social media promotions & outreach in a bid to capture  the mind space of the voters. Also, Aam Aadmi Party with its unique social media strategy is making inroads to garner online attention. They are making the best use of social media platforms to woo urban & young voters active on social media platforms  from innovative  online promotion, to tweet chat, Google + hangouts, Facebook live, dedicated You Tube channels  to  WhatsApp, a mobile messenger service.

BJP’s prime ministerial candidate  Narendra Modi’s (NaMo  on social Media)  takes the lead in social media popularity chart, followed by former union minister Shashi Tharoor,  who was among the first to be active on social media platforms.   Now, there is a mad rush among  politicians to hitch the bandwagon of social media before it is too late.  Even, veteran leaders   Mulayam Singh Yadav  of Samajwadi Party and Lalu Prasad Yadav  of  Rashtriya Janta Dal , who once detested “Computer” and “English Language”  have bitten by the social media bug.

Today, young voters are social media active. They  are  voicing their opinion and canvassing for their popular leaders on social media platforms and influencing decisions within  their contacts,  household with a close reach to information on their laptops or on mobile handsets.

 Election Comission of India Gearing Up For Social Media 

Election Commission of India sensing the power  & impact of social media has already  issued  strict guidelines for using social media platforms  by political parties.  This is for the  first time, Election commission will keeping a close eye on the expenditure incurred on social media promotion.Mobile and internet technology is changing the face of election observation, too. ECI will also be live streaming the voting from selected polling stations in the country.

 

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  .

 

-Kumar Manish (@kumarmanish9)

** The article can be republished with due credit to  its original author.

 

Ahmedabad celebrates 4th anniversary of Janmarg BRTS

The daily commute of twenty-nine-year-old Ranjit Rao, a professional working for a multinational company based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, has changed for good. Rao is part of new breed of city commuters who has ditched his private vehicle to use the new form of public transport: Janmarg Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) in Ahmedabad. According to him, it is more economical and comfortable to travel in by BRTS than vehicle. There is no worry of traffic jams and the system is easily accessible. He travels daily from his home in Maninagar, located in the central part of Ahmedabad, to Iskon circle in the Western part. He saves 15-20 minutes on his commute time, a few hundred rupees on fuel, and takes great pride that he is not part of the traffic anymore.

Ahmedabad BRTS celebrates 4th anniversary of Janmarg, synonymous with Ahmedabad, celebrated its fourth anniversary on October 14. In 2009, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, under its special purpose vehicle Ahmedabad Janmarg Limited (AJL) had launched the BRTS in dedicated corridors in middle of the road as an earnest effort to bring sanity back to roads.

Janmarg: Moving People, Not Moving Vehicles
BRTS-4

For all those who complain of the futility of BRTS corridor, here is an interesting fact, revealed by Ahmedabad Janmarg Limited: “Janmarg moved 180 people by just occupying 90 square metres of road space while in the mixed traffic lane on the Janmarg corridor, and 168 people were moved by occupying 550 square metre of road space.” This is very much in line with The National Urban Transport Policy of Ministry of Urban Development which focuses on “Moving People, not Vehicles”. On an average 116,000 passengers travels on BRTS for work (53 per cent), Education (19 per cent ) and Social and Recreation (27 per cent). According to an AJL study for the month of March, 2013, 26 percent of two wheelers have shifted to BRTS. However, the number of car users shifting to BRTS remains around one to two percent. No doubt, driven by the need for an alternative mode of transportation, people are buying vehicles, adding to traffic snarls and pollution. In Ahmedabad alone, the number of vehicles has climbed up to 2.2 million. An estimate suggests that 600 vehicles are getting added daily on city roads in Ahmedabad. So, the pressure on existing road networks increases and insures demand for parking in the city.

Complaints & Suggestions for Ahmedabad BRTS
01-1

Overcrowding in BRTS Buses
The BRTS in Ahmedabad needs to keep the standard high for the confidence of regular users and to attract future commuters. The basic issues like BRTS bus drivers’ rash driving and their involvement in traffic accidents has reached alarming proportion. The increasing number of thefts on the buses is also a matter of concern, as is crowd management at popular BRTS bus stops.

Commuters’ suggestions for improving BRT services ranges from discount rates for students, senior citizens, and women to introducing a monthly pass system. Other suggestions include limits on the number of passengers travelling in a BRTS bus, and better traffic control mechanisms for BRTS buses, especially near traffic cross junctions.

Making BRTS Bus Stops More Pedestrian and Cycle Accessible

Sixty-five percent of BRTS users in Ahmedabad are walking to BRTS bus stops despite the poor pedestrian facilities in the city. Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation authorities need to take pedestrian concerns as a top priority to address the growing chaos on city streets. BRTS bus stops should be integrated with better and safer walkways, and cycle corridors to gain more regular bus commuters.

Innovation and Information is Key for the Growth of Ahmedabad BRTS

In the last four years of its operation, the system has received national and international awards for bringing a paradigm shift in the way city moves. BRTS is a great departure from rickety buses running on the roads where passengers can barely hold on, struggling to board or alight from the bus, fighting their way out to reach to bus conductors for tickets, along with the spewing toxic smoke.

But for BRTS to reach the next level and attract car users, BRTS requires a constant innovation in its services and an extensive outreach plan with consistent improvement in infrastructure for pedestrians & cyclists. Social Media needs to be leveraged well by introducing unique campaigns to attract youths to use BRTS. The BRTS authorities have to work on a holistic approach to make the system more popular and acceptable.

Modi woos twitter celebrities to encourage youth for voter registration

Narendra Modi, one of the most popular politician on social media platforms in India has latched on to Twitter & the power of film celebrities, Indian cricketing legends and spiritual heads, to woo & encourage first-time voters to register for voting rights for upcoming general elections 2014. The elections will be litmus test for Modi to prove his popularity can convert into  votes to reach to the magical figure of 272 to form the government at the Centre.

According to Mint- “The first-time voters, estimated from the Census data stacks up to 149.36 million—the Election Commission estimates the total number of voters to be 725 million.”

 Modi in his first tweet mentioned “studies point to several ‘eligible’ voters who are yet unregistered. Are you one of them? Now is the time to get registered ASAP ! and followed by  this tweet ” I request prominent voices on social media to promote voter registration among youngsters & strengthen our democracy.Modi

Later, Modi  in his flurry of tweets mentioned twitter handle of prominent celebrities from Bollywood, like Amitabh Bachchan(6.30million),  Shah Rukh Khan(4.98million), Amir Khan(4.66 million), Salman Khan(4.88 million), Hrithik Roshan(4.08million), Deepika Padukone(4.18million),  cricketing legend, Sachin Tendular(3.66million), and spiritual head his Holiness Dalai Lama (7.71million) among others  and wrote  “lets encourage voter registration among 18-24 yr olds. Large number of them are unregistered. EC drive presently underway.”

Deepika

Modi has 2.34 million followers till now on Twitter. Recentky, Bharatiya Janta Party(BJP), the main opposition party in India anointed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as prime ministerial face for upcoming  election.

Interestingly, he in his tweet mentioned his bete-o-noire Prime Minister Manmohan Singh official PMO twitter handle to encourage young voters to participate in due Parliamentary election. Also, Shashi Tharroor (1.90million), Minister of State for Human Resource Development and one the most vocal critic of Modi on social media platforms was mentioned by Modi to woo youths for voter registration. It would be interesting to see whether,Modi’s MT  gets RTs by the likes of PMO and Shashi Tharror !

PMO

In the recent months, youths & their issues are focal point & recurring theme  of all Modi’s political speeches since his elevation as BJP Election Campaign Committee Chief. Recently during Rewari rally largely of ex-servicemen, Modi made an emotive appeal to  young audience to get themselves registered for voting rights and also encourage other in family, friends and relatives to do it. 

According to recently released report, published on Mint- “Show that the overwhelming demography of India is young. “The population of the country below 35 years of age is 51.8%. Of this 48.2% are women and 51.8% are men, 30.1% reside in urban areas and 69.9% is based in rural India. Significantly, the Census numbers estimate the population in the critical demography category of 18-35 years of age to be 31.3%%. Not only does this demography dominate spending in the rapidly growing consumer economy, it is also likely to be critical in the context of the general election due by May 2014.”

Politics & social media are getting entwined every other day. But , whether twitter RTs, and  MTs,  can translate into VOTE is the moot question !

Links for voter registration in India only :  Election Commission of India (http://eci.nic.in/eci_main1/index.aspx)

Times of India & Facebook India campaigns for Young Users to vote in Elections2014

The Times of India , largest-selling English language daily published from India has joined hands with Facebook, the US based social media giant to encourage young social media users in India to register for their voting rights. According to TOI article, “Facebook India will start a campaign to appeal to people to register to vote and ultimately to vote too.” India will go to general election polls in year 2014.  This is one of its kind initiative where traditional media will use the power of social media to boost votes.

New Facebook Feature for Indian Users  

“Facebook is adding a new feature for its Indian users which will allow them to indicate on their page whether they have registered to vote and tell us why they chose to do so.” -TOI.

Facebook  has over 82 million users in India. According to the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) 2012, the Times of India has a  readership of 76.43 lakhs (7.643 million).

According to a report on Social Media in India, by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB by June 2013, the estimated social media users in India will cross 66 million. It also mention that about 74 percent of all active Internet users in urban India use social media.

Social media will play an influential role in 160 parliamentary constituency(study by Iris Foundation) in deciding the fate of political parties vying for the parliamentary seat

Young Population India- A Decisive factor in Electoral Politics of 2014

India is a young nation. More than half of its 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.

How To Use This Feature on Facebook.

To use this feature go to ‘Life Events’ on your profile page

step1

Then select ‘Travel & Experiences’

step2

‘Registered to Vote’, also adding the date on which you registered.

step 3

Registering for Electoral Rolls in India 

To get your name included in the electoral rolls, you will have to fill up Form 6  and submit it to the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) of your assembly constituency.For More Info  Check on Chief Election Officer  or on the website of your state’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO).

Brief on Election Commission of India 

Election Commission of India is a permanent Constitutional Body. The Election Commission was established in accordance with the Constitution on 25th January 1950. Originally the commission had only a Chief Election Commissioner. It currently consists of Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.

Do you know of any such initiatives in your country. Do share with us ! 

Social Media Spotlight – Shashi Tharoor, Politician, India

Suave, polished and  soft spoken, Shashi Tharoor was among the first in Indian politicians to hitch the bandwagon of  Twitter in Year 2009. At that time many from opposition parties and within his own political circles had scoffed at the idea of connecting with the masses in 140 characters, that too online. His personalized  & engaging tweets from films, sports, social issues and politics, got popular and now he is one of the darling politician on twitter.Now, every politician wants to get ‘followed’ on virtual world. Tharoor official webpage introduces him as an  “Author, United Nations peace-keeper, refugee worker, human rights activist, Minister of State for Human Resources Development, an elected member of the Indian Parliament from the Thiruvananthapuram constituency in Kerala and a former Minister of State for External Affairs, Dr. Shashi Tharoor straddles several worlds of experience.”

Social Media Foot Prints

Social Media Foot Prints

Tharoor Current Social Media Reach  

Mr Tharoor  has confined his social media outreach to Twitter only. Mr Tharoor  boasts of 18 lakh Twitter followers in his kitty.  Recently, he has been anointed as one of the leader to counter the  propaganda against the Congress party on social media sites, especially on Twitter. He is known vocal critic of Narendra Modi and his policies on social media platforms.

His  official personal website has only twitter links displayed prominently.  However, Tharoor has no official presence on Facebook which has over 76 million users in India  and also not on You Tube , the world’s largest online video-sharing platform, has more than a billion unique users every single month.

The “Cattle Class Tweet” which cost Tharoor his Ministerial Post.

Tharoor journey with twitter has been roller coaster ride. No one can forget including Mr. Tharoor the “cattle class” tweet  which created an uproar inside the parliament and outside of it. Mr Tharoor had

tweeted “Absolutely, in cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows” while travelling in an economy class of an airline.

The said tweet generated so much heat that for Congress led UPA government amid  huge protests within the party and from opposition members  that Mr. Tharoor had to resign from the post of Minister of External Affairs.  He maintains that the tweet was ‘misinterpreted’.

Tharoor Views on Social Media Role in Politics

Tharoor in his recent media interaction with The Open Magazine said , ” First, though only about 10-12 per cent of the Indian electorate is on the internet, the fact remains that it’s not just the people who [you are] directly reaching through social media that you are reaching. What you put out on social media may be directly interacting with 10-12 per cent. But it is mined by media, gets out by newspaper or television.”

“The second reason it is important is… There’s a study by a group called Iris Media which has established that in 160 of our country’s 543 constituencies, there are more social media users than the gap [in votes] between the [candidates who came] first and second and the last election—the margin of victory is smaller than the number of social media users in that constituency. So in 160 constituencies, it is a politically relevant number. other constituency we won by 10,000 votes, there are more than 10,000 social media users. So that becomes a very important factor.

In his another interview to  IANS in August, 2013. Tharoor said, “Social media shouldn’t be ignored. There are 10-12 percent of people who are using Internet. 70 percent of the Indian citizens have mobile phones in their hand. When there will be a convergence of the two, when 4G will replace 3G, then people will not have trouble to go on the net and it won’t be so expensive also.

And Congress’s best bet to tackle #NaMO brigade on social media would be none other than Tharoor himself. It would be interesting to watch political twitter wars ahead.

-By Kumar Manish

Inputs- The Open Magazine & IANS

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 .