This is a series of ‘Political Strategy Reviews’ where we pick data from the MTS Election Tracker and do a 360 degree analysis of a political party’s social media activity. We have used Konnect Social to track the data. Read other strategy reviews here.
With the 2014 General Elections closing in, the clash of the Indian political titans has moved to another level altogether and the advent of innovative digital marketing strategies have become an integral part of this paradigm shift. Political campaigns today are not confined to rallies, keystone speeches to address crowds and masses. As the road to the assembly elections becomes clearer, extensive use of social media is surfacing. BJP is a major political party in India, founded in 1980.
The party is associated with the ideology of ‘Nation First’ and advocates conservative social policies, self-reliance, free markets, foreign policy driven by a nationalist agenda and strong defense. From 1998 to 2004, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), a coalition of several parties, formed the national government. Headed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, it was the first non-Congress government to last a full term in office.
The party has learnt the lesson of resilience the hard way, after facing back to back defeats in the 2004 and 2009 general elections. Over the years, BJP has become one of the pioneers in tapping the new age media to the best of its potential. Right from having an interactive website, to a dedicated volunteer’s dashboard, mobile apps, extracting the most out of Google Hangouts, Facebook Page, Twitter handle, YouTube Page, Whatsapp they haven’t missed a single trick from the book to make sure that they connect with the masses at multiple touch points with a unified tone of messaging and engagement.
In this review, we will try to touch upon the various aspects of social media strategy adopted by the principal opposition party in India – Bharatiya Janta Party. The references used in the article might date back to a year or so but the data used would not be more than 15 days old.
Fans and Followers
Bharatiya Janta Party has a very strong and active presence on major social media networks, i.e. Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. According to the MTS election tracker, the party has the highest number of fans (2.5 million) on Facebook, as compared to its competitors. Apart from the official page, there are a number of other pages (Narendra Modi , India 272+ , CAG , Friends of BJP to name a few ) which assist the party in the endeavor of connecting with maximum number of people on Facebook.
On Twitter, the BJP4India twitter handle lags behind one of the competitors, the Aam Aadmi Party, with 374k followers but again the party has a well knitted network of twitter handles which add to their reach and timeline deliveries at the end of the day. The Prime Ministerial Candidate Narendra Modi’s official twitter handle has 3.5 million followers while AAP’s Convener Arvind Kejriwal has 1.47 million followers.
The party also has a dedicated Internet TV Channel which showcases videos about the party’s ideology, glorifying the past, live streaming of rallies and campaigns. The initiative is linked with the Youtube Channel and Narendra Modi’s personal website. The initiative has received 2.5 million likes and 50k tweets.
On Google+, the BJP Mission 272+ Page has 2903 +1’s and 552 people in circles. Here again the PM Candidate, Narendra Modi, is way ahead in the race with 1.22 lakh people in circles. The posts on Google+ are usually in line with the communication on Facebook and Twitter. The party also uses Google Hangouts judiciously by organizing live chats with Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh.
Apart from the main stream social media channels, BJP relies heavily on India 272+ portal, meant to empower the volunteers with an online medium where they can collaborate, contribute and campaign. The portal consists of comprehensive information about election booths and enables volunteers to come together for boot-level organizing. It also entails an event calendar for the volunteers’ reference. At the same time, India 272+ facilitates a one to one communication medium and initiates dialogues with candidates, leaders and visionaries. Besides housing all the above mentioned facilities, the website also has an e-books section where any one can download books which define the vision and mission of the party and of Narendra Modi. The website has a monthly traffic estimate of over 9,14,000 users.
To expand the reach further, a mobile app was launched in the month of January which has 40,000 downloads registered already and has a subscriber rating of 4.6/5 on an Android Play Store.
BJP is one of the first political parties in India to use Whatsapp for its election campaigns. The party has a dedicated number- 7820078200 the- wherein people can pledge support by giving a missed call, verify their voter id, ask/share/suggest their views and opinions with the party. With this, the party intends to reach out to 450 million Whatsapp users based in India.
WhatsApp you Name & Pincode to 07820078200 and support BJP’s Mission 272+. pic.twitter.com/ZmjyoW8kMD
— BJP (@BJP4India) February 28, 2014
The party is also proactive in case of other mobile marketing initiatives like ‘Dial 022-4501-4501 to hear live speech of Narendra Modi’. They are putting their best foot forward to connect with the 185 million users who use internet on their mobile phones.
Content Strategy and Engagement
After the stunning defeats in 2004 and 2009, the Bharatiya Janta Party has evolved as a stronger and more accomplished political party, focusing equally on the conventional and the new age tactics for election campaigning. The party has resorted to a radical shift in their approach by projecting Growth and Development as the key agenda.
They have adopted a multi-phased strategy with overlapping objectives laid out to fulfill the common goal of winning 272+ seats in the 2014 General Elections.
From the year 2010 till 2012 the strategy was inclined towards connecting with the internet savvy generation on their preferred social networks. Post 2012, the party adopted a twin strategy which included connecting with more and more people but at the same time building an interest and the desire to stay connected by opening up the doors of IT cell, India 272+ and various other volunteer communities, instilling the feeling of pride in being associated with BJP.
The current phase of strategy is majorly aimed at engaging with the pool of fans/followers/subscribers, inspiring volunteers to stretch more and pushing forth the vital message ‘Vote For BJP’, leading to the actual conversion. With the multi-phased Social Media Strategy BJP intends to:
- Connect with new and existing voters’ population
- Spread Awareness about the party’s agenda, campaigns
- Generate Interest and Desire for the party’s initiatives and future prospects
- Register party’s name with keywords- Growth, Development, Alternative for Change
- Nurture a community of Brand Advocates for the party
- Integrate offline-online campaigns to broaden the spectrum
- Engage with the youth and inspire them to contribute their bit towards the mission
In terms of social media marketing strategy, BJP has stormed ahead in the race under the leadership of Shri Narendra Modi. While other political parties are still working on the nascent stages of building communities, BJP already has a huge community of fans, followers and subscribers to assist them in communicating their messages to the masses.
The party has used an intelligent mix of digital advertising, public relations and content marketing to create a community of advocates who interact, discuss and share the prospects of voting for BJP with millions of users across various social media platforms leading to a state of positive word of mouth.
There is a seamless integration in content strategy for different platforms right from Facebook to Twitter, Youtube, Google+, India 272+, Whatsapp and so on. The contest posted is relevant and tailored as per the needs of target audience. It is a classic case of being at the right place, at the right time, with the right message, to the right people. Each post has a logical connect and extension which propels the party’s proposition towards growth, development and good governance.
On Facebook, BJP’s communication covers an array of things from proposing models of development in India to demystifying the fake claims of growth and boom under the reigning UPA Government. The posts also include tributes to legends, greetings on several occasions, live coverage of events, infographics of the next rally/campaign, videos of prominent leaders like Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj.
Apart from this, the party also employs Facebook ads with targeted demographics to increase the number of fans and overall reach of messaging. To engage with the existing fans, the party resorts to several contests and campaigns like, Mere Sapnon ka Bharat, where the users are supposed to record and upload their vision for India and the best entries stand a chance to meet Narendra Modi in person.
Besides this, the party also seeks donations from fans on Facebook, asking them to contribute for Change. The #Modi4PM Fund app for donation is hosted simultaneously on the official website as well on the Facebook page. Similar posts and graphics are run as ads on Facebook and Google Display networks.
The engagement numbers for the party on Facebook tells one half of the story and as the social media strategy revolves around Narendra Modi most of the engagement on Facebook happens on his page. The lack of convergence in synergies has lead to lower engagement figures for the party. Moreover, the discussion, at times, is diverted to other forums like Friends of BJP, I support Narendra Modi, India 272+ , Citizens for Accountable Governance and so on.
The party needs to focus on bringing the divergent synergies together on common platforms to ensure higher engagement levels. Since the party has a good number of followers on Facebook they should consider hosting live streaming of campaigns like Chai Pe Charcha on Facebook itself. The Facebook Page can also have an India 272+ app which registers members and volunteers on the page.
BJP has dominated the Twitter space for quite some time now; the party trends on Twitter almost everyday with either BJP or #NaMoinHP or NaMo in XYZ City. Thousands of tweets are posted everyday with #Namo #BJP #NaMo4PM and so on. The tone and the theme of communication remains the same as that of Facebook but with more contributors and associates
Here the party runs a live commentary of events as they happen along with posts spreading awareness about voting in elections, complementing offline events, seeking donations, sharing greetings, exhibiting growth facts, membership calls, quotes from prominent leaders, retweets from leaders, members, volunteers and third party information sources.
As Twitter is all about real time conversation, the party ensures that a human touch is evident in all forms of messaging. Even the pictures shared are targeted to tickle the emotional instinct of the viewers.
The party is able to trend almost every hash tag which connects with Narendra Modi’s rally in a particular city or region. Surprisingly every trend has new contributors to support the trend; with the trending hashtag the party connects with new users and followers on Twitter everyday. Another important factor of the party’s efforts on tTwitter is the easy availability of content and volunteers to support the party’s stand over issues.
There is a uniform channel to disseminate information which proves handy in discussions online. For e.g., when Rahul Gandhi went to Gujarat on 8th Feb 2014 for a rally the opposition managed to trend #RGExposesBJP from morning hours till afternoon, wherein they thwarted the figures of Gujarat as mere lies but Namo supporters were quick enough to hijack the trend, posting replies to accusations and in another few hours #NaMoinImphal and #NaMoinManipur started trending on Twitter.
Such is the strength of BJP and its supporters on Twitter.
On Twitter, apart from #NaMo in a particular city hash tag, the party uses the hash tags of 360 degree campaigns like #MereSapnonKaBharat , #ChaiPeCharcha which received an overwhelming response of 40,000 tweets in a day.
According to the MTS election tracker, the engagement on Twitter, in recent times, has received certain spikes at regular intervals, like on 23rd Feb the levels shot up due to Narendra Modi’s Fateh Rally in Punjab; on 27th of Feb Narendra Modi – A victim of manipulations book was released, along with the first list of candidates contesting the Lok Sabha Elections; on 1st of March engagement levels rose again as Ex-Army General VK Singh joined BJP #Fauji4Modi was trending that day; similarly on 3rd, #NamoinBihar was trending which led to an increase in the engagement levels. On 5th of March, with the announcement of poll dates, the engagement levels for the party’s Twitter handle shot up for quite some time.
The engagement levels of BJP4India activities on Twitter is lower, as compared to the Aam Aadmi Party. The reason behind this remains the same as AAP manages to concentrate all of their communication around the AamAadmiParty Twitter handle and Arvind Kejriwal BJP has scattered and divergent synergies in place, this approach definitely adds to the reach and timeline deliveries for keywords associated to BJP, as a result, the engagement levels for BJP4India that is i.e. the official Twitter handle suffer a jolt.
The Youtube channel for the party was started in 2010 houses a collection of 5000+ videos. The channel has 44,685 subscribers , with 62 million views registered till date, which is a huge number.
There is a mix of videos which are shared on the Youtube channel. Some are focused on occasions like Womens’ Day and Voters’ Registration Day, while there are videos of press conferences from distinguished speakers, speeches from Shri Narendra Modi, question and answer sessions with prominent leaders, coverages of several events, calls for donation , videos clarifying the party’s stand over issues of national importance.
The party makes the most out of Youtube by sharing excerpts of powerful speeches from Narendra Modi, reiterating the party’s agenda for the 2014 General Elections, i.e. Growth, Development and Good Governance.
The cover picture on Youtube also carries a loud and clear message for subscribers to Vote for BJP and gives them an option to connect using their preferred social network. By posting all the press conferences, events coverage and dialogues with visionary leaders the party not only surpasses main stream media but also delivers a timely dose of engaging content to the subscribers keeping them glued to the channel.
In terms of engagement levels on Youtube, BJP leads all the way. The gap in lead has multiple factors attached to it. The prime reason is that BJP4India is the only channel, other Narendra Modi’s official channel, for communication, so all the synergies are converged towards a single focal point.
Moreover, the content posted by the party is designed and tailored in a way to suit the needs of prospective target audience. The party realizes the importance of the medium so well that over the time party has started posting videos which answer the queries of subscribers like, Why BJP? How to contribute for change?
The party has managed to deliver content which mesmerizes the viewer, be it Narendra Modi’s speeches or the call for women empowerment video, or the Modi aane wala hai video song. The videos posted connect with the masses on account of emotional appeal.
The official website for Bharatiya Janta Party collates all the information scattered over the internet on one single platform. The website contains vital information about the party, the core issues the party is focusing on and events calendar for keeping the users updated with the happenings.
The website has an excellent resource inventory for media, voters and volunteers in the form of Mission India 272+. The website houses blogs from Shri Lal Krishna Advani which, otherwise, is not promoted in any of the social media endeavors.
Another noticeable feature of the website is the social stream which streams social data from the party’s official social media profiles and that of the prominent leaders like Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj. The ‘Get Involved’ section of the website tries to engage with the existing users by asking them to join the party, become a volunteer, give their suggestions, make a donation.
The website has registered a traffic estimate of 9,34,700 visitors per month. The updates on the BJP.ORG website are available for mobile users in the form of apps on windows, apple iOS, Android, Ovi and Blackberry OS as well. The Make a Donation #Modi4PM Fund app is hosted simultaneously on the Facebook Page for the party.
The party is spending quite a lot of energy, time and money to ensure that they receive maximum donation which can be used judiciously for election campaigning. An integrated digital marketing campaign has been launched to promote the same which involves posts on Facebook and twitter which calls out to the people – ‘Donate for a budget that reads more Jobs’ , ‘Donate to Contribute for a Change’ , ‘Donate Today for a better tomorrow’ similar posts are updated in Hindi as well. These graphics are also promoted using Facebook Ads and Google Display Networks.
To add to it, Youtube videos, in which the top notch political leaders from BJP ask people to donate for a good cause, are shared across networks to increase the possibility of donations. An interesting feature in their communication, with regards to donation, is the gratification they provide to individuals with milestone counts like 500th donor , 1000th donor thus, reinstating the feeling of pride and consonance that the decision the donor made was right and the party appreciates his/her contribution.
India 272+ Portal and App
India272+ is an online and on-ground volunteering platform to help the BJP in its mission towards gaining a 272+ seat majority in the 545 seat Lok Sabha. The idea for India 272+ has been derived from Obama’s presidential campaign, where the volunteers and supporters were provided a dashboard to connect, collaborate and contribute their efforts.
The data collected from the dashboard was then used to map support for Obama and to chalk out areas of improvement which needed attention. Likewise, the India 272+ website has an easy to use interface; users can register using their Facebook/Twitter profile. Even the login facility is through social connect which gives them access to social data. The website has been the battle ground for quite a lot of campaigns run by the party.
The website contains the facility for new voter registration through the web as well as through the form 6 mobile app. An event calendar which marks day to day activities of the party offline/online is exhibited in the events tab. The blog section houses a range of blogs on the party’s ideology, vision, mission, inclusive growth, Nation First and so on.
The Volunteer tab provides volunteers with a variety of options to engage with, share and contribute their bit towards the mission. The Gallery section contains photos/videos of various events as they happen, the e-books section provides books like Moditva, Modi’s Gujarat miracle, Modi and 2002 and NaMo Mission for downloads. In the Mission section, users can access the videos from participants for the Mere Sapnon ka Bharat Contest.
On the website, the party has also launched a unique and innovative initiative, “Namo Number”. NaMo Number is equal to votes; the more the NaMo numbers, the more the number of votes. Winning every booth in this election is very important and winning the booths will help the party win seats and reach Mission272+ or to cross it.
Every voter has a voter ID. Sending an SMS by his Voter ID can let the party know about his support. The voter benefits because his Voter ID is checked in the election rolls. Just having a Voter ID does not mean one can vote, one’s name has to be on the Election Commission’s rolls. The reply messages that the portal sends out after checking the names will have the person’s state, Parliamentary Constituency, Assembly Constituency and the polling booth number.
The database of Voter IDs will help the party in mapping support base and based on figures and feedback from every constituency, the party can work on improving the prospects in areas where they are falling short. People who register for NaMo Number and send in their voter IDs will receive custom messages on upcoming rallies, events, visits by leaders.
The NaMo Number can turn out to be a game changer as it follows the multi-level marketing approach which can lead to a chain of supporters and voters for the party in the coming elections. While mere registration through voter Id’s won’t confirm a person’s vote but the data collected through this drive can be used to persuade these users at different points of time with different rational appeals. The process can be fastened as the date of election draws closer.
Google+ Hangouts, Yuva iTV and Whatsapp
Since 2010, The Bharatiya Janta Party has been very active in the social space and they have built a community of followers across all mediums. To nurture and engage with the community of fans and followers the party organizes Google Hangouts on several occasions with Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh Arun Jaitely, Manohar Parrikar and others.
These Hangout sessions are promoted heavily on other social media channels, using digital advertising to expand the reach. The party also has an in house Internet TV initiative which serves as a second screen to its Youtube Channel, to ensure that user experience is not affected by bandwidth issues and problems.
The Yuva iTV has a very simple interface. It usually displays the live streaming of events as they happen. In case there is no live event, the channel showcases videos of past events. As mentioned above, the party has been a pioneer in utilizing the mobile social network, Whatsapp, for connecting with the masses at various instances. Initially, the party used the Whatsapp extension for inviting volunteers
. At a later stage, however, Whatsapp was used as a medium to take questions, queries and suggestions from the people during Chai Pe Charcha Campaign. Now the party is using Whatsapp to connect with the voting population by asking them to send in their Names and Voter Ids on Whatsapp – 07820078200. Once a person is registered with the party on any of these mobile initiative, it opens up a window for the party to communicate their messages in a streamlined fashion.
Mentions on Digital Publications
The top website mentions for BJP come from Business Standard, Economic Times and Times of India. The mentions for the party have a neutral to positive sentiment. The negative sentiment in mentions can be accounted to Hindu nationalism, mention about Godhra riots, Ayodhya Ram Temple issues etc.
Most of the websites give an unbiased opinion about the party, its campaigns, and predictions about the after effects of Narendra Modi becoming the Prime Minister of India. The positive sentiments in mentions is derived from the unflinching popularity of Narendra Modi and reports from multinational research agencies like Goldman Sachs, Nomura, CLSA which predict a boom in Indian Economy if BJP and Narendra Modi come to power.
When we look at the online sentiment by date for the party in the last 15 days it is evident that the negative sentiment was the highest on 5th and 6th of March. That is because of the denial from Narendra Modi to meet Arvind Kejriwal which resulted in a spat between supporters of the party in Delhi as well as in Gujarat.
According to the MTS election tracker, overall, Bharatiya Janta Party has a neutral to positive sentiment online. The neutral sentiment amounts to 68.8%, positive sentiment is close to 13.5% and the negative sentiment is 17.7%. The negative sentiment can be attributed to the supporters and followers of the opposition parties.
Bharatiya Janta Party has left no stone unturned in reaching out to the new and existing voters’ population through digital and social media platforms. The key highlight of BJP’s social media strategy is the seamless integration across various platforms with consistent communication and messaging. The party has been phenomenal in terms of the usage of different social media platforms to the best of their capabilities.
The party has launched some exceptionally innovative campaigns and initiatives like Mere Sapnon Ka Bharat, NaMo Number, Chai Pe Charcha to register their presence synonymous with Growth, Development and Good Governance. BJP on Social Media has reached the pinnacle point, wherein, the stage is set for them to engage with the users and gain votes by tangible conversions. Having said that, the party needs to work on collating and converging the scattered synergies towards one common goal, i.e., Mission 272+.
The brilliant Offline-Online Integration of the party’s activities has definitely helped the party in expanding their reach. Overall, the party’s approach towards the digital and social media has been outstanding and impressive. Would BJP win the majority seats in the parliament? Will Narendra Modi become the next Prime Minister of India? The answer to all these questions lies in the future for now all we can do is just wait and watch through the lens of digital and social media.
Rahul Jain, Director – Digital Marketing & Sales, Social Ranjeenti , a digital marketing solutions provider that specializes in online reputation management and promotional needs of politicians says:
Bhartiya Janta Party has coherently launched various campaigns as a part of their 360 degree marketing approach and made digital one of their primary methods of communication. After pioneering Twitter and Google hangouts, Narendra Modi’s popularity grew manifold and has become the party’s strong channel of contact with the Indian public. The recent Chai pe Charcha campaign only upheld Modi’s repeated attempts to make himself accessible to masses using technology. While Modi has been the main emphasis in the communication patterns on social media, the party has not held back from interacting with the users as well. Overall, the party is more authoritative when compared with other political parties on social media.