According to observers, one of the reasons behind political parties and their representatives using Twitter is the fact that the platform provided them with direct access to the people. “About 135 million new voters voted in this election, and social/digital media was used extremely effectively to reach out to this constituency,” said Gaurav Kapur, industry lead, Google India.
Agrees KV Sridhar, chief creative officer, SapientNitro who says that Twitter provided a big opportunity to directly talk to the youth and the educated Indian, who are otherwise difficult to reach out to. “This particular target audience usually does not attend rallies. They are very clear-headed and are aware of everything. So social network sites such as Twitter is the best way to reach out to them,” he added.
And, while a few political parties were able to cash in on the opportunity, others wasted it. Vineet Bajpai, CEO, TBWA India Group, says that the tussle between the AAP and the BJP was the classic example of ‘how one man’s loss is another man’s gain’. “The AAP which initially targeted the young, educated , middle class lost them after Kejriwal’s debacle as the chief minister of Delhi. The BJP actually utilised its opponent’s failure and swept these voters off their feet on Twitter, by creating noise about various relevant issues through various hashtags run by its volunteers,” said Bajpai.
Bajpai adds that both the AAP and the Congress in their campaign mainly targeted people belonging to the lower socio-economic strata, who rarely use the social network or are not even aware of its existence. “Once the AAP lost its position in Delhi after Kejriwal resigned, it turned its focus to people belonging to lower income groups such as auto drivers, rickshaw-pullers, labourers and slum-dwellers. Though from time to time Kejriwal did return to Twitter, by then he had lost many followers. Likewise, in case of Congress, all its campaigns such as Bharat Nirman clearly spoke about empowering people living in rural India or the urban poor, so it used more of television, print and radio and less of Twitter,” he added.
To be sure, each party took to Twitter in their own style. The BJP, that began its online journey almost a year back, borrowed many ideas from the US presidential campaign of Barack Obama. For example, under the leadership of Chris Hughes, the Obama campaign team created