Social media has redefined the narration of political campaigns. The use of social media and micro blogging platforms in politics has dramatically changed the way campaigns are run. Today’s political campaigns’ social media strategies have emerged as one of the most effective and creative phenomenon in communication studies.
Social media has evolved into a powerful mechanism for election campaign strategy in India as well. It has been increasingly used by Indian politicians for political communication ahead of elections and in between polling dates to gain unmediated and direct communication to connect leaders and citizenry, and to re-energies the political landscape in the country.
The 2019 General elections has provided the most visible manifestations of this shift. All political parties modernized their political campaign’s social media strategy and revamped their media policies with a new focus on social media, analytics and crowdsourcing. With political parties and leaders taking notice of the game-changing nature of social media and jumping on the digital bandwagon, the landscape of political communication in India has never been so diverse, inclusive, fragmented, creative, energetic, chaotic and equally polarizing at the same time.
In the 2019 Indian general election Prime Minister Narendra Modi started 'Main Bhi Chowkidar hoon' campaign, naming an event after the new political slogan of the BJP, squarely countering opposition's repeated attacks of the ‘Chowkidar chor hai’ jibe. The Chowkidar campaign and use of social media are a part of Modi’s populist playbook, and has stark similarities with the BJP’s Chaiwala campaign in the 2014 general election. Though India’s 2019 general election was the first national election contested within a truly digital consumption society, it was Modi’s phenomenal success in the 2014 general election that made other politicians in India to sit up and go digital. BJP’s successful use of social media for political agenda building and policy crowdsourcing and publicity is evident in Pan-India campaigns such as ‘Swacch Bharat’ which was launched in 2014 and the ‘Fit India Movement’, a nationwide campaign launched in 2019, which encourages citizens to take up physical activity and sports in their daily lives.
The power of social media has influenced local and state political campaigns in India as well. Digital campaigns are nowadays kept in limelight to establish a candidate’s political identity, to educate and attract voters, and to disseminate information. Ahead of the 2021 Assembly Election, Tamil Nadu’s rival Dravidian parties, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), have run campaigns on home grown social media firm ShareChat, which allows conversations in local languages. Further, the 2021 West Bengal elections witnessed both TMC and BJP engage heavily with social media campaigns. From Amit Shah addressing rallies via live videos to Mamata Banerjee launching the ‘Mark Yourself Safe from BJP’ campaign, the election in Bengal was being fought primarily on the digital landscape.
With widespread social media use proliferating society, a political party or candidate’s participation in micro blogging platforms reaches the mass and increases engagement. Hiring the most efficient political campaign companies in India leads to the creation of shareable content that candidates and supporters can use to increase awareness, engage publics and appeal for votes. Paired with traditional political analytics like party affiliation, exit polls, traditional marketing survey and on-ground campaigns; social media is mostly accurate in predicting voter behaviour. Understanding the many platforms – their content type, reach, capabilities, and mechanics are essential to politics in the 21st century.
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