Absolutely, 'YES' social media in politics swayed India. There�s quite a tectonic shift happening in how future election campaigns would be conducted in India. Social media is at the centre of this shift, just as the TV and its local language news channels have emerged as the change catalyst for what issues gather the political storm for the masses in state after state, week after week.
Political parties are beginning to realize the influence of the social media; the past Gujarat elections saw major use of Facebook, twitter and You Tube. Using this medium to understand the issues that influence young voters is increasingly significant for the politicians. Facebook, Twitter, Google + and YouTube seem to be the frontrunners in battle.
India�s large population and increasing teledensity, 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 constituencies, 160 can be termed as 'high impact' - that is, they will most likely be influenced by social media in the 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% of the voting population.
Most people have the ability to influence families. �That is really what happened in Delhi, which is how the AAP came into power. The kids said to their parents � you will not vote Congress, I�m telling you to vote AAP�. Each social media user influences three more people in their household.
Even the Election Commission has recognized the importance of new media, asking candidates to declare their accounts and spending online.
"Going back to 2009, neither was the audience getting much influence nor were the politicians taking much interest� They�d be more interested in getting an interview done for a newspaper or a traditional media outlet."
Political parties in India have borrowed some ideas from the US Democrats. For example, people on the campaign mailing list were encouraged to send in their stories which would be written up or made into video documentaries, and shared with the wider mailing list.
Politicians those who have used �social media� most imaginatively are the AAP." The party�s use of SMS to poll users and use of WhatsApp for communication has caught the eye.
Parties are already coming up with low-cost, appropriate strategies for the Indian environment.
Campaign groups have sent volunteers out to remote areas with solar-powered projectors stored in backpacks, so campaign messages can be shown directly to voters.
Similarly, in areas where on-the-ground campaigning and registration drives are needed, websites, email and Google Hangouts are being used to co-ordinate volunteers.
Not just the political parties, even the government is beginning to experience the impact of social media.
India�s population majorly comprises of youths, so the political parties, after realizing this have incorporated this thing by making prominent individuals a part of their political party, prime example being, Rahul Gandhi from Congress. As they belong to same generation, they are able to connect well with the youth. So they express their views through online medium along with other mediums available.
The AAP is clearly the first beneficiary of the social media revolution in Indian politics. We might or might not agree with some of the tactics used by AAP supporters online, but on that front they are as good or as bad as their political rivals.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been the first national political party to have embraced technology to reach out to voters, with a Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, mobile app and live streaming over the internet.
Social media campaign was one of the most important factors in its victory. Social media affected 30 to 40 percent of the overall seats, the number could go up to 60 percent by the 2019 general elections. In many constituencies, social media was amongst the top three communication tools, overtaking traditional methods such as advertisements.
According to "India Digital Future in Focus." 75 percent of India�s online population is younger than the age of 35, significantly younger than in other BRIC countries. "Politicians realized that social media is not a couple of kids talking about fashion, but actually people talking about serious things". "Standard tools like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and then lately WhatsApp" - I think these, from a social media perspective, are the pillars of our strategy".
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