Influence of Social Media in Politics

The world of information is shrinking and we can access all the information right from our smartphones. This points out that the information now is better accessible and more shareable. Social media is the latest fad. From movie promotions to political campaigns, social media is optimally utilized for every purpose. People have never been more connected than this before; it is a powerful tool yet almost equally threatening.

Social media has been thoroughly used to market businesses through campaigns and what-not. However, the latest trend is the political involvement in the digital space for various purposes. Following the epic socio-political campaign of Barack Obama, Indian political scenario suddenly changed from a lackadaisical system to a very active bunch of social media enthusiasts. This, however had its pros and cons. The youth, who are the majority of the population, play a major role in determining the outcome of the various campaigns or social events. A single incident can either trigger a negative sentiment or spread motivation across platforms.

Social media, nowadays, has been used extensively to spread the news and messages across general public and also gather the sentiments of the public towards recent happenings. However, sometimes riding the sentiment waves of the public, a lot can go wrong over a mere tweet. For example, when you search google for “Pappu in India”, you get a picture of a very disappointed Rahul Gandhi followed by a plethora of related articles. The internet is flooded with such content. Rahul Gandhi’s infamous interview with Times Now helped him secure this title. Similarly, a tweet bashing our current Prime Minister for his boastfulness led to the tag “feku’ associated with Narendra Modi. When you search “Feku in India” you land up in an accumulated content from various sources about Narendra Modi being ‘feku’.

The above mentioned examples are to explain how negative branding on social media can lead to embarrassments. You may correct or re-build your reputation, but you cannot erase the negative content. Online Reputation Management has become a mandatory tool for the elite business class and the politicians as well. The major threat from social media is that once something is said or done, it spreads like wildfire. One can either cover up or correct it. Correcting the deed takes time; hence proper explanation needs to be published so that it reaches the public.

Social media has been helping the political scenario of our country to not only spread the relevant messages across but also engage with the public on various platforms.

It is not necessary to reply to each tweet on Twitter to engage with the audience; engaging the audience to your thought by way of a hashtag is a great way to engage the public. This was done for the 2014 elections by Narendra Modi by using the hashtag #SelfieWithModi which was an instant hit amongst the masses and motivated people to vote. The results clearly show how this campaign favored Modi and led him to become our Prime Minister. On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi, the candidate from Congress is said to have spent 500 Crores on his advertising campaign but failed to gather the masses in his favor. The campaign was managed by Ogilvy yet couldn’t help him save his face. Why? It lacked the emotional connect with the audience.

Another exemplary example is how Sushma Swaraj, minister of External Affairs, has always used her Twitter account to successfully help Indians around the world. Her genuine concern and prompt actions have always brought her in the news and received appreciation from all parts of the world.

Currently, all political parties and almost all the ministers have their social media accounts. Some make their presence felt by posting party related news while others post their honest opinions and continuously stay afloat in the minds of social media users.

There are, however, few politicians who have managed to ruin their social image by tweeting silly. Shashi Tharoor, with his infamous tweet mentioning how it feels to travel in economy class by referring it to ‘cattleclass’ attracted some flak; this happened when the then government was promoting austerity. He kept mum for long. Quite recently, his 8 minute speech in Britain brought his reputation back and he was largely appreciated.

The bottom line here is the fact that not paying enough attention to your reputation online may cost you severely. If you too want a positive branding and online reputation makeover, you can contact us and we would discuss it over coffee.

Reputation Management works only for brands which are interesting; boring brands would never work online even if their Marketing and Advertising is handled by none other than Ogilvy- case in point, Rahul Gandhi.

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