IntroductionThe usage of social media in Indian politics is continually growing; with an increasing number of politicians in the country taking advantage of the medium to communicate instantly with thousands of people. Arvind Sawant (NDA MP Candidate of South Mumbai) was one amongst the many.
Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are three basic social media platforms that most politicians use to amplify their presence and clout. Every politician now wants to reach out to individuals directly through Twitter or Facebook. However, in addition to the regular mediums of communication, Arvind Sawant did things a little differently by incorporating Whatsapp to communicate with the masses.
Even political parties have accounts, which they use to post information on political campaigns, press releases and other news updates. This was the primary reason why Togglehead decided to use Whatsapp to further increase our accessibility to the voters & have an effective two-way dialogue. The incorporation of Whatsapp complemented the other prongs of the social media approach perfectly.
With not much online presence of Arvind Sawant prior to his candidature announcement, the objective thus hovered around:
- Creating a strong online presence
- Increasing the online popularity points of Arvind Sawant as opposed to his fellow opposing candidates Milind Deora (2 time MP from South Mumbai), Bala Nandgaokar, Meera Sanyal, etc.
- Ensuring regular activity on his Facebook page
- Initiating discussions and making the page a medium to communicate the problems
- Engaging in conversation with influencers on Twitter
- Increasing his follower count on twitter & indulging in conversation on poignant issues
- Highlighting key moments of rallies with live tweet ups
- Keeping the public updated on his various rallies via Whatsapp
Togglehead decided to focus on a single objective – making Arvind Sawant a name to remember, increasing his overall social media engagement and attracting more South-Mumbai based followers to his Facebook and Twitter pages and to begin creating a dialogue on these pages.
The stumbling stone was we had a target audience being more Congress centric & lack of awareness about his stand on various poignant issues. The bigger challenge was that the whole social media campaign had to be started from scratch since Arvind Sawant did not have any existing social media accounts. But the whole team was eager as well as excited to jump in for the opportunity. A win would directly impact us as A.G Sawant was contesting the election from our constituency. Also, there were a lot of communal issues which we had to tip-toe around but it was an obstacle we were eager to overcome.
Apart from the internal obstacles, a truly Herculean task that stood tall in Arvind Sawant’s path was the former 2 time MP from the South Mumbai constituency Milind Deora who had a prolific social media presence. Arvind Sawant who isn’t an extrovert & had to be coaxed out of his shell to show a side of himself that his supporters did not really know.
The campaign kicked off with the tags #VoteForChange & #ShivSena4Namo and these tags instantly connected to Mumbaikars. Each post and creative carried both the tags and within a small span of time, fans were using the tags extensively. The posts were informative and interactive. The content strategy that was decided upon focused on the following:
- The Facebook posts were about the daily rallies he attended & the policies he planned to implement if elected, along with detailed daily recaps of the day’s events. Arvind Sawant was positioned as the ‘Clean Politician’ who was ‘Approachable’ & the man who would spearhead change & improve the situation of the common man. In addition, Facebook was used a means to allow a healthy dialogue to be facilitated between the supporters & Arvind Sawant.
- From an advertising stand point, South Mumbai users were targeted, those who were inclined towards politics who liked pages related to the Congress, Narendra Modi & Shiv Sena. An endeavor to sway the masses with the clear unwavering message that he was the man who would restore vibrancy to Mumbai.
- For Twitter, a more direct approach was adopted. While other candidates indulged in mindless negative curation, the Twitter account focused on keeping the message consistent & unwavering speaking about the way forward rather than rehashing the debacles of the past. #ShivSena4Namo trended in India the day before the Mumbai Elections.
- ‘#VoteForChange’ was chosen was mainly because the voters of South Mumbai were desperately searching for a change & the account helped this hashtag be used more than 100,000 times in a span of 2 weeks. As seen clearly by the landslide victory of the NDA, the people could clearly identified with it.
- ‘#ShivSena4Namo’ was a very popular hashtag that got an India trend on twitter the day before the general election. This was used with the sole intention of capitalizing on the Modi fever that had engulfed the nation.
- The goal from Twitter was to utilize various influencers at our disposal to increase the follower count on the account. In synchronisation with the BJP-Maharashtra Wing & other noted political handles like Aaditya Thackeray, Mangal Prabhat Lodha & Shaina NC, the account was able to gain substantial traction on twitter.
- Whatsapp was used primarily as a means for a comfortable, two-way, direct dialogue between the followers and Arvind Sawant. The content strategy for Arvind Sawant’s Whatsapp marketing was clear to keep the viewers informed about the venue & time for the various rallies that Arvind Sawant was going to attend. This seemed to be a highly effective means of communication as the number of supporters showing up for the rallies increased by over 20%.
- In addition, Whatsapp was also used as a means to share the Party Manifesto with the supporters and allow them to question Arvind Sawant about his stand on various issues. It allowed them to voice the queries about issues plaguing the constituency. Arvind Sawant was asked poignant questions relating to the status of the Grant Road skywalk and the on-going issues surrounding the Campa-Cola building demolition in Worli. He answered all these questions to the satisfaction of the voters which possibly helped in converting undecided voters into NDA loyalists.
- Whatsapp was also used to showcase the various creatives & graphic designs that were highlighted on Facebook & Twitter to create absolute synergy across all social media platforms. Whatsapp as a means of communication proved to be the hero of the campaign since we received over 15,000 supporters reaching out to us primarily through this platform.
- An Emailer campaign was also created which was used for the purpose of circulating the NDA manifesto to a database of over 10,000 voters in the South Mumbai region which helped greatly in informing the voters about the various policies that Arvind Sawant planned to implement for the development of South Mumbai.
The flagship campaign which was the underlying message for the entire election duration, #VoteForChange was a high traffic volume hashtag that was in keeping with the overall sentiment of the entire nation going into the election. The country was seeking change & with the Modi wave taking India by storm, it was felt that promoting the BJP motto of ‘Change’ would receive a favorable reception, a strategy that worked to our advantage. After much ideation, an overall consensus was reached & the #VoteForChange started making its rounds across the various social media platforms namely (Facebook & Twitter). It was met with an overwhelming reception within days. In addition the graphic concepts designed were incorporated into the offline promotion as well.
In synergy with the nation’s efforts to make Narendra Modi the Prime Minister, there was a concentrated effort to educate the voters of the South Mumbai constituency that a vote for Arvind Sawant would aid getting Narendra Modi’s NDA alliance into power at the Centre. The focus was on ensuring that there was a direct association in the mind of the voters between Narendra Modi’s victory hinged on winning every seat & when they voted for the Shiv Sena (Arvind Sawant), they were voting for Narendra Modi.
Fan increase: from 668 fans to over 22,093 fans in 1 month
Percentage increase: Over 3207%
Follower increase: from 15 followers to over 1001 followers in 1 month
Percentage increase: Over 6573.33%
Over 3500 individual South Mumbai voters got in touch with Arvind Sawant’s Whatspp account
#VoteForChange was used about 63,421 times
In conclusion, all the digital marketing efforts bore some substantial fruit since Mr Arvind Sawant won the election for the South Mumbai Lok Sabha seat by 1,28,000 votes. His social media presence helped increase awareness about the candidate with a steady stream of engagement across various social media platforms.
The goal was to create a figure that people could trust & based on the result – Mission accomplished!