You must have read this in forwarded emails and often in other online media that “Facebook now has enough users to form a whole new country.” Facebook is about to reach a number of -- hold your breath-- 1 billion users! Think about it, it's 1/7th of the world's population. Twitter has 140 million users who post around 340 million tweets per day. Social media is on a roll and it presents an endless number of possibilities to promote your product, business, cause or even your own self to the whole world. Politicians are realizing this and are actively trying to get into the world of Social Media.
Do these images ring any bells?
I bet they do.
Politicians today are expressing their thoughts actively on Social Media. Shashi Tharoor is just one of many politicos active on Social Media. There are people like Derek O'Brein (@quizderek), Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwarajBJP) and even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (@PMOIndia) who use twitter actively to express their thoughts. If you happen to scroll through their time-lines, you will be amazed to see the type of conversations they have with their followers on a day-to-day basis.
Politicians in the days gone by were perceived as unreachable by the common man. If you told a common person from India, perhaps about 5 years ago, that he could actually hold a conversation with a Memeber of Parliament, he would have laughed at you. Now, all you need to do is register yourself onto Facebook/Twitter – which hardly takes a few minutes – and express your thoughts to any politician. Most do make it a point to reply to the people who they think are genuinely trying to get in touch with them. It is quite evident after you take a look at their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.
Here are some numbers:
Social Media is not only being used for the purpose of reaching out to the people, it is also being used to gather public opinion.
I will now give you a peek into what can be accomplished if politicians use social media properly. In this case, I will use Facebook. The figures that I will give below are collected from Social Bakers which keeps a track of the daily Social Media demographics. This might be able to give a broad idea of the effect Facebook has on the Indian people.
Currently, around 4.5 crore people in India use Facebook. This number has grown by about 86.2 lakh people in the last 6 months. Out of the total number of people that use the Internet, 55% of them use Facebook. 49% of the people who use Facebook are between the age of 18-24 and 28% of them are between the age of 25-34. When these two age groups are combined, it comes to about 3.4 Crore people.
According to the Facebook India statistics, amongst the 7 metros, Delhi leads in number of Facebook users with 56.8 lakh users, followed by Mumbai at 36.4 lakh users.
In 2011, it was recorded that an average Facebook user in India spends around 20 minutes 21 seconds on the website everyday. It is interesting to note that the figure is this high despite Facebook being blocked in most companies and colleges for the fear of losing productivity.
Facebook is a place where a host of conversations take place. Conservative estimates have found that out of these conversations, 60% of them are about brands, products, companies and news. Think about the sheer amount of data that an average Facebook user consumes every day if he/she uses it for 20 minutes per day.
You can now imagine the amazing potential of Facebook in influencing the population of this country. Politicians would start salivating if they see these figures. And many of them already do.
Who's doing what?
Here is an example of what Baijayant “Jay” Panda (Lok Sabha MP from Odisha) did recently on Facebook.
Jay Panda is a very active Facebook user. He uses it to connect with his constituents and keep track of what is going on.
As you can see, this particular post has 99 comments on it. This will enable him to get a pretty good idea of what people think about the Planning Commission's decision on the reduction of the poverty line. Even people get a chance to express themselves and actually participate in the decision making process.
By doing such exercises, Indian politicians today are becoming more youth friendly. Today's 'Indian youth' would find it pretty cool that their leader is on Facebook or is actively tweeting about what he/she does. It makes them feel like their leaders are one of them after all.
Narendra Modi Government
Social Media has also been used actively by State Governments to tell people what they are upto. The Narendra Modi Government is very actively using Facebook to keep the people informed. A Facebook page titled “Gujarat Information” is updated almost daily with the developments happening in the State of Gujarat.
In the recent UP elections, Social Networking was used widely to conduct campaigns. The Samajwadi Party used their Facebook page to coordinate their Elections rallies across the state. It was an ingenious step to take that will involve more youth in the campaign. And the results are in front of you.
Social Media offers endless possibilities for Political parties and politicians to spread their views in the society. As the youth get more and more vocal about their opinions, the leaders just need to take a peek into this vast virtual world to sense the mood of the whole country.
In such a scenario, keeping a “Politics Watch” on Social media can go a long way to find out what our dear administrators are upto and how the people are reacting to their activities.
Featured Image Courtesy: cambodia4kidsorg