How Big A Role Social Media Played In This Lok Sabha Election, A Brief Look

Posted on May 19, 2014 in Politics

By Kumar Manish:

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.

social media elections

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.

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 Bharitya Janta Party, gets the credit for actively engaging 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 behavior, 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 the 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 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 an 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 sent. Since Jan. 1, 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 top the chart, while congress stood at last behind the newbie Aam Aadmi Party on the last day of the elections.

The general elections 2014 reemphasized the fact that we can not underestimate the power of a tweet or a post in this globally wireless connected world!

Modi’s 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.”

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, youth was 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.

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