Present day political candidate knows that the significance of Social Media in an Election Campaign can’t be brushed aside. Even the big & established political parties wish to form a chain of direct communication with the potential voters. Hence, social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube come into the picture.
Election news & social media both have become staple to an Indian.
Whether you are commuting to and from office or grabbing a quick cup of coffee at the nearby Starbucks during lunch break, scrolling through your twitter feed for latest news on elections is very important.
There are few elementary intentions of a political campaigner for using social media in his election campaign. The first & the most important is marketing. Social media lets a political party market it’s candidates & introduce the new ones to the voters. With the help of social media, a candidate can make people aware of his agenda. The second reason is to persuade people to attend the rallies, gatherings & other such meetings of the party. At these gatherings the candidates can give various whys to the voters to choose them.
Politicians in different countries use social media platforms in different ways. For instance, in the United States, for the 2016 presidential race, the supporters of Donald Trump started mudslinging Hilary Clinton & her supporters as well. This kind of use of social media can be very ruinous for a candidate.
Some politicians refrain from addressing very sensitive political issues on social media platforms but during the elections season using social media to promote their election campaign is always on the strategy. In India, almost every political party has a Facebook account & a Twitter handle. The ruling party & the opposition, both make sure to stay active on all sorts of media, including the social facet & keep updating the viewers about various activities of the party. But another thing worth noticing is that the majority of the people in the leadership positions of the party & many people in the bureaucracy are apparently not very tech friendly & hence are unable to use social media or any kind of digital media to connect with the masses. For this purpose, political parties invest on their PR Campaigns & social media campaigns. But this once again proves that it’s not just the youth who understands the importance of being present on social media, even the wise, skilled & experienced leaders understand its importance.
Political parties utilize Facebook, Twitter & You Tube to reach out to their voters & influence them in their favor. Hence, now parties have to come up with different strategies to stay ahead of their competitors. So, if social media has given a new tool to publicize the campaigns then it has come up with its own set of challenges too. Another challenge which has cropped up due to the advent of social media is its misuse by some mischief makers on these social networking sites. Now, it has become a very well-known fact that such elements use social media to spread rumors & hatred. Although Election Commission is taking the required measures to contain this, but in such a situation the political party & the candidates must also stay fully vigilant. EC must also give strict instructions to the political parties to keep a watch on their supporters on social media & make sure to nip any kind of rumor in the bud.
Some parties hire PR agencies & set up their Political Campaign Websites. Having a website which is informative & lets the voters understand the slogan & message of the campaign has proved to be a worthy Political Campaign Tool. Voters can be directed to the campaign websites of a party from the social accounts & vice versa.
Creating an online campaign has also become important because it helps a political party or an independent candidate to interact directly with the masses. If the people in a constituency have certain questions, then social media is the perfect & easiest way for a voter to pose the questions. It’s also very effortless for the people responsible for a particular party’s campaign to answer those questions on social media.
Hence, the inference is that social media is no more just a place for people to interact. It has become a feasible tool for any political party, big or small, as well as for autonomous candidates to spread the word to the public. If used appropriately then it can be very beneficial winning the voters’ trust & the vote.