Decoding: The running a political campaign on social media

Ahead of Maharashtra Assembly Elections, Social Samosa takes a look at the basics of running a political campaign on social media.

Jagruti Verma
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Decoding: The running a political campaign on social media

Ahead of Maharashtra Assembly Elections, Social Samosa takes a look at the basics of running a political campaign on social media.

The Maharashtra Assembly elections are just around the corner and each candidate is running a political campaign on social media. It's interesting how things are unravelling in the digital space. We take a closer look.

While analysing the social media profiles of Union Cabinet Ministers for the Know Your Leader series, we realised quite a few of them seem to be using creatives in formats that are akin to political hoardings. Is it a good idea, we wondered, especially given how the mediums are so different in scale and reach? Another aspect was how while politicians seem to be catching up on different platforms, there is quite a lot of duplication of content.

Akshay Popawala, Co-founder & Director of Digital Communication/ Strategy, Togglehead unravels the trends saying, "It is important to understand that though politicians understand social media well, they don't like to experiment yet."

While new creative formats can be explored in regards to targetting metro cities, voters elsewhere might find it intimidating and distant, he adds. This is one of the most important considerations behind any and every decision taken in regards to running a political campaign, especially on social media.

Choosing Platforms

While WhatsApp works really well in smaller cities, Twitter has a different charm in metro demographics. The message, as well as the medium, reflects the preferences of the voters in the area. Facebook and Twitter are opinionated platforms and Instagram works well for imagery.

When it comes to getting people to join in, on-ground opt-in campaigns work best, Akshay tells us, adding that WhatsApp groups based on interest and areas help drive conversations and understand the mood of the people.

Also Read: Decoding: Building a political campaign on social media 101

These groups are usually a mix of those that have been made by party volunteers and are running for a long time as well as some that have been created specifically for election campaigns. He says that SMSs are not as effective because it's one-way communication. Websites are an asset no party or politician should miss out on for all online activities that can be routed to it as a one-stop for all communication and details.

Communication patterns

There are two parts to the communication at play during state elections. One that is in sync with the rhetoric being run by the party at the national level and the other is about local issues.

The turnaround time in case of creating content during an election cycle is usually about 12 hours. This is where creative persons work on strategies and create content out of the content that is being produced in rallies and speeches.

The thread that keeps it all together is the idea to create relevant visibility for the politician. Akshay explains the importance of addressing specific issues in communication for one size fits all approach is not one that can work. Localising issues is a must, he says.

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