Social Media Strategy Review: Akhilesh Yadav

Strategy Review Akhilesh Yadav

This is part of a series where we pick data from the MTS Election Tracker, crunch numbers and build a graphical representation from them. We have used Konnect Social to track the data, along with support from our knowledge partner, Social Rajneeti. Read other articles about Election tracker here.

As the young scion of the Samajwadi Party (SP), Akhilesh Yadav – son of senior politician and long standing SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav – helms one of the most vital voting states in the entire country, namely Uttar Pradesh. Appointed the 20th Chief Minister of UP in 2012, Yadav was the youngest to ever have assumed that office at the time.

The 40-year-old started his political career after he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kannauj in UP, in a by-election of 2000. He managed to retain his seat in the 2004 and 2009 general elections thereafter.

While the career of the well-educated politician has been marked with appreciation for bringing ‘youth and dynamism’ into play – mainly by members of his own party and followers in the state – the tenure has also been marred by the constant shadow of his father’s larger-than-life presence in the SP circuit. Additionally, Yadav received quite a few brickbats during the debacle last year with Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Durga Shakti Nagpal, who was controversially suspended by the UP government on a flimsy charge, and then re-instated after a short while.

The latest talking points around the young CM of UP have been the communal riots that broke out in simmering Muzaffarnagar last year, which led to several fatalities and injuries, as well as more long term effects on the law and order and peace of the area. Yadav received heavy criticism for his handling of the outbreak, and subsequent measures taken, including the organisation of the opulent, Bollywood-star-studded Saifai Festival in his native village shortly thereafter.

Generating a wordcloud of recent phrases or search words associated with Yadav on the Internet reveals that his recent announcement to make his presence felt in Gujarat – the stronghold of the rival BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi –seems to have created a fair stir. Also spoken about seem to be the communal riots that swept Muzaffarnagar, and its aftermath that continues to be felt till date. His association with his father on the political scene also apparently remains strong, in the eyes of web surfers.

Wordcloud

Akhilesh Wordcloud

Twitter

With a timeline that brings forth a personal touch amid the haze of more political campaign-oriented tweets in recent times, Akhilesh Yadav is a fairly old hand on Twitter. His account seems to have been initiated as long ago as 2010, as opposed to some politicos who recently joined the bandwagon solely to be in touch with the online world in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

With a total of 58,957 Twitter followers at last count, the latest number seems to have exceeded 59,100 followers. This is not a very impressive number for a political leader who has occupied an arterial position with thousands of followers in real life for the last few years.

Moreover, Yadav has barely 116 tweets, from the four years he has been on the forum – either indicating that he is a man of few words or that his interest in the social network is quite limited. In comparison to his peers, Yadav is on one of the lowest rungs – older politicians like Omar Abdullah and Shashi Tharoor have also beat him when it comes to fan-hood on Twitter.

Total followers on Twitter

total followers on twitter

The tweets themselves are not incoherent at all, and mainly focus on political developments and campaign matters in recent months, and otherwise, centre around small updates from the leader’s life, the occasional thought or felicitation, achievements in his post of CM, or the sharing of media clippings.

akhilesh yadav twitter

Yadav’s Twitter mentions stand at around 1,259 in the most recent representative period between April 23rd to April 29th which is a fairly low percentage of his followers actually actively tweeting at the UP CM – and while the mentions seem to be fairly constant according to the below graph, they show a slight spike midweek, corresponding with news releases about Yadav.

Twitter mentions over time

Twitter mentions over time

Yadav’s engagement with his Twitter followers is around 5 per cent, which is quite low. In fact, there is not one single instance of interaction with a follower who has tweeted at him on the account, indicating that the social network is more of a forum to voice his opinion perhaps, than take in that of others – as is the case with most politicians on the Indian scenario, with very few exceptions.

Tweets over time

 Tweets over time

Not surprisingly then, Yadav is trumped in terms of total engagement on Twitter even by the likes of older BJP leaders Arun Jaitley and Smriti Irani, as well as others like Yogendra Yadav of AAP.

Total Engagement on Twitter

Total Engagement over time

Facebook

With a total of 5,25,946 fans on Facebook, Akhilesh Yadav’s presence here beats his Twitter performance for sure. Content on the page is basically political rally details and photographs, as well as several media clippings and updates, be it broadcast or digital. There are also updates of perceived developmental activities.

Akhilesh Yadav Facebook page

Yadav also manages to surpass a regional leader like Sharad Pawar, as well as more national politicos like Kapil Sibal, Smriti Irani and Yogendra Yadav, when it comes to fandom on Facebook. In fact, most of his posts are greeted with a high number of likes, and always some comments, if not many.

Total fans on Facebook

Total Fans on Facebook - akhilesh

Surprisingly then, Yadav’s total engagement with his Facebook fans is a disappointing 0.64 per cent. Moreover, his engagement over time is not a graph that shows too much fluctuation or increase, and is instead a steady, low line – perhaps indicating that there is not enough to bring in spikes of interest for the average fan on this social network.

Total Engagement on Facebook

Total Engagement FB - Akhilesh

Facebook – Engagement over time

Engagement over time - facebook akhilesh

Elsewhere on social media 

Unfortunately, besides the two most primary social networking forums that are exploited to establish an online presence by almost all politicians, Yadav apparently does not feel that making his online presence felt is that much of a priority in his kind of politics. He fails to make an appearance on other networks like Google +, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, or any other. The only other place his presence can be noted – that too not in an interactive role – is on the official website of the Samajwadi Party which basically outlines the UP Chief Minister’s CV.

This is a pity, because as a relatively young and fairly erudite politician in a sphere mired with crassness, age and illiteracy, Yadav could have taken his presence online to a new level of connection with netizens.

Sentiment 

Although Yadav seems to have a decent amount of fandom in the online world, a look at the sentiment that primarily accompanies his presence reveals that there does not seem to have been too much positivity when he is spoken about most recently. A tracker of the sentiment shows that while 92.6% is neutral, the remaining appears to be in the red with negative sentiment, with not a hint of positivity around.

 Akhilesh Yadav - Sentiments

Between April 23-29, Yadav has had around 204 web mentions, of which 15 have been negative, which makes the % negative around 7.35%. Clearly then, neutral mentions overwhelm the statistic when it comes to Yadav these days.

If charted by date, sentiment around Yadav shows a sharp negative rise in the beginning of the week, which diminishes immediately and resurges in part later. The neutrality on the other hand, remains quite constant, and overall interest seems to get quite low by the end of the week.

Sentiment by date

Sentiment by date

From the main items of news Yadav has been a part of, the ones that dominate include the recent cancellation of a much-awaited rally in Kanpur due to a death in the family, Yadav’s steady denigrations of Modi and bid to make his presence felt in Gujarat, an accident he and his wife were a part of recently but survived without injury, and more.

 Recent News 1 Recent News 2

Of the websites that seem to be discussing Yadav, First Post leads the pack, while also leading in terms of negative sentiment, which far outweighs its neutral reportage. This is followed by Zee News, which has an equal balance of negative and neutral sentiment in their reports around Yadav. The Deccan Herald, Times of India, and DNA seem to have carried steadily neutral sentiment about Yadav, even as the Indian Express, while having expended the same amount of space for Yadav as the latter trio, has spoken about him only negatively.

Top websites charting sentiment

 Top Websites

Conclusion

Akhilesh Yadav has a long way to go when it comes to making his presence felt online, and is still on a relatively much lower rung compared to other popular politicians of the country – even older ones. As a well-spoken leader and holder of the topmost office of an important state, Yadav could address youth in a comprehensive manner if he expanded his online footprint, as well as took better care to maintain the accounts that already exist. As far as news is concerned, given that he is merely campaigning for party candidates in the run-up to voting for the LS elections, while it is not arterial for him to directly receive positive coverage, he could definitely do with at least some positive sentiment, which does not seem to be coming his way these days.

Expert Opinion

Rahul Jain, Director – Digital Marketing & Sales, Social Rajneeti, a digital marketing solutions provider that specializes in online reputation management and promotional needs of politicians says:

Akhilesh Yadav has been hand-held through his political career just like Rahul Gandhi but he has managed to stay a step ahead of the other political descendant with his sparse yet yielding social media presence.

He has a not-so-happening presence on Twitter despite having explored and arrived on the platform with an almost two-year lead to the other BJP politicos. His tweets are not out of place however the interaction is low. He has not managed to communicate with his fans or following on Facebook and Twitter.

His word cloud is a pre-cursor to the relevance of the conversations surrounding him on the internet and social media. The one publication that maintains a glaringly obvious negative sentiment about the politician is Indian Express through their print and online media. Not that is comes as a surprise, considering his activities and performance online and offline.

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