Sunday, 9 August 2020

IT & Social Media: Game Changer of Politics in India

By Prabin K Padhy
Updated: January 23, 2020 11:42 am

In India a lot of people, I must say, those in politics or relate themselves to the field of politics has the notion that IT (Information Technology) is just about posting pictures or some political content in social media like Facebook, Twitter, etc. With this notion in mind, let’s find out what exactly is Information Technology is and how it has revolutionized the political arena. To be precise, how political parties/leaders have resorted to IT & Social Media (in fact a part of IT) to their political gains and transforming their leadership skills.

TO BEGIN WITH, let’s find out what is Information Technology in general is.

IT is literally ICT, that is, Information & Communication Technology. IT in general means is the use of any computers, storage, networking and other physical devices, infrastructure and processes to create, process, store, secure and exchange all forms of electronic data. So, basically it is all about processing and distribution of Data through the use of Computers, and more recently Android Mobile Phones, Tablets, etc.

Over the years, say about 10years, technological advancements have redefined many aspects of our society, including politics. Smart phones, tablets, and computers equipped with new technologies is used by politicians and parties to communicate with the masses and influence them more effectively. Social Media had a great role to play in this context, which is only a portion of what IT in broad sense is.

 

INFORMATION: More Accessible Now

Earlier the political parties and politicians relied on speeches, Print & Electronic Media, Radio, etc to pass on their message to people. Because, these mediums helped them reaching to larger audiences, provide information when its most needed, easy way to shape up the PR of a party and politician.

With the advent of technology & smart phones the Social Media has evolved rapidly and information is readily available than before and very fast. This means any new details, strategies, and objectives will reach the masses almost immediately, so posting the newest information online to keep voters updated is crucial to the success of any politician and/or party. Apart from this rapid information flow, politicians can now use media-rich content, like videos, podcasts, and interactive contents on their web pages, allowing them to boost engagement and have more reach than traditional static content.

 

Campaign Management:

The biggest challenge a politician ever has is reaching out to target audience and send their message across to them. Keeping one’s supporters engaged with interesting content & winning new followers is pertinent. One solution is Web Tracking Technology, by which the political parties are targeting the potential voters on the borderline. Apart from personalized email communications, web content & targeted paid ads, the political parties are resorting to building and delivering different digital marketing campaigns with customized information send to supporters and undecided voters that suits them in order to convert them to followers.

 

Influence the New Age Society & INDIA:

The biggest success of a political party is to have a good campaign and have better social influence & how the political leaders interact with general public. IT & Social Media has made it possible now with politicians reaching out to masses through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.

In India, this revolution started well before the 2014 general elections and which has seen Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rise to power. There was a general notion that Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister in the 1st Term majorly due to Social Media. But, 2019 it was something more…

With 900million people casting their votes for 543 LokSabha seats over a period of one and half months is definitely a big celebration & termed as the Festival of Democracy around the world.

Unlike 2014, this time the challenge was many fold for Modiji & Bharatiya Janata Party. By now, all major political parties had access to Information Technology and Social Media. Everyone has their own large pool of teams to reach out to people with content. Indian voters are always inconsistent, spatial and of varied social divides. Reaching out to them needs the deployment of newer technology in the campaigns. From 250million social media users in 2014 the rise was almost 108% with around 520million in 2019.

In 2017, PM Modi had said that 2019 elections will be fought on Smart Phones… Well he obviously meant it when the results came.

“My First Vote For Modi” “Swachh Bharat” “Main Bhi Chowkidar”& “Modi Hai Toh Mumkin Hai” the Game Changers:

As per AdLift, with more than 142million combined followers of BJP’s various Social Media platforms in comparison to 23million Congress, the upper hand was with BJP.

Just couple of days before the General Elections 2019, an YouTube video hit the social media platforms with youngsters dancing to the tunes of the video as to why they will vote for Modi being a first time voter. The video talked about development, Ujjwala, Digital India & Skill India. This was an instant hit and went viral.

“Swachh Bharat” introduced by Modi Govt has taken up the Internet & Social Media by storm and became a mass movement to engage millions of people & brought the sense of cleanliness by relating to their daily chores.

“Main Bhi Chowkidar” was another super hit that brewed a sense of nationalism along with safety & security among the masses.

Wonderful personalized content like short videos, GIFs, Memes, Infographics, Ring Tones, etc. made on various leading Indian languages spread across Social Media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and most importantly WhatsApp groups (BJP has a wider share of such groups & users) to reach out to public. And, the people loved them, shared them & swayed with them.

Another Social Media game changer was the Mobile App called “NaMo App” which connected the user directly with Modiji. Not to forget the various Volunteers and Social Media evangelists who run their own campaigns in favor of BJP & Modiji. Most social benefit schemes were launched by Modiji through Social Media & lot of hashtag movements were ran in Twitter by the IT Cell of BJP that were trending well.

While Akshay Kumar interview video made Modiji acceptable & relate to common man, his fitness video did the trick of his physical & mental strength to lead India. Also, “Modi Hai Toh Mumkin Hai” “Soch Badlo Tabhito Badlega India” & “How’s the JOSH” to name a few are some of the Social Media slogans that not only changed the mindset of people but also converted many millions as followers of Brand Modi.

Its not that other political parties didn’t used the IT & Social Media, one can see the campaigns of Congress like ‘Acche din aaye nahi, par apna time aayega. Register nahi kiya, toh vote ka chance jayega’, while a Valentine’s Day message to Modi read, ‘Are you Anil Ambani? Cos I want to be your chowkidaar’ that has wooed public to great extent. Even AAM AADMI PARTY (AAP), Samajwadi, BSS, CPI had their own share too in Social Media.

There is lot of hue & cry over data theft through WhatsApp while allegations are that some Social Media channels customizing their applications suiting to particular group and so on.

Day to day, technology is evolving and with it Social Media platforms are evolving. Artificial Intelligence has already forayed into Social Media, OTT (Over The Top technology) is revolutionizing SmartTV & Phones. No one knows what will be next, but it’s for sure IT & Social Media are going to outsmart tradition media & communication tools in near future.

 

By Prabin K Padhy

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