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Role of Social Media in the Indian Elections 2009

by on Jun 24, 2009 in Marketing, Social Media Marketing

India saw a new beginning when almost all political parties jumped into social media to establish their visibility and woo their voters. It was interesting to see the clash of political titans as well as novices on the Internet arena to win over netizens.

Among all the political parties, BJP was the most active party on all social media platforms, including Facebook, twitter, blogs, etc. whereas Congress was largely active on Twitter. BJP leader LK Advani came off as more web-savvy as compared to his other political counterparts, however the BJP also spent a lot on paid campaigns on banners, adwords and affiliates. BJP tried to mimic Obama’s campaign strategy and ran an aggressive social media campaign to reach out to urban voters, but unfortunately they failed to taste victory. Even independents like Ajay Goyal (Chandigarh) ran social media and email campaigns – however even Ajay lost his deposit.

There are many reasons for the failure of the BJP and independents like Ajay – despite being so active online. First, the internet has still not penetrated the rural regions that constitute 60-70% of our population. Second, they tried to woo urban voters who hardly come out to vote, unlike rural voters. Third, the issues they highlighted were not appealing enough for urbanites to support them. Even Barack Obama won due to the message he wanted to spread out to his audience not because of his political campaign on social media. A Social media strategy can be a success when teamed with a relevant and interesting message and targeted at the correct audience, till then India will probably need to wait till rural internet usage becomes widespread enough.

The table below compares some of the social media activities of political parties on various platforms.

BJP Congress Others Independent
Websites BJP main site
LK Advani site
Join BJP
Gujarat BJP
Karnataka BJP
Main AICC site
Congress Media
Vote for Congress
CPI(M)
Shiv Sena
Samajwadi Party
Mallika Sarabhai
Politicians Active on Twitter Narendra Modi
VK Malhotra
Rahul Gandhi
Krishna Byre Gowda
Rajeev Gowda
Shashi Tharoor
Suresh Kalmadi
SM Krishna
None Captain Gopinath
Mallika Sarabhai
Meera Sanyal
Groups on Facebook Friends of BJP
BJP Supporters
None None None
Politicians Active on Blogs LK Advani
K. Raghupati Bhat
DR VS Acharya
Sanjay Nirumpam Lalu Prasad Yadav
Omar Abullah
Suresh Kumar
M.K.Stalin
Rajeev Chandrashekhar

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