Digital Marketing Foraying Into The Political Corridors

Politics, in today’s world, is something people in every part of the world talk about. Especially in the fast developing nation like India, youth is getting more and more involved in the politics. The inclination towards political debates, individual views and opinions are on the all-time high. In this fastly evolving era, we are already seeing a paradigm shift towards digital. Digital marketing has spread its roots in every possible field. Digital has proven to be one of the best and efficient ways for reaching out to the masses that too in a targeted manner, increasing the overall efficiency. Marketers & visionaries identified the innate potential this medium holds for politics. In past 2-3 years, political parties have been extensively using it for running their campaigns and the one who strikes the right chord, woo the voters away.

Digital marketing, in Indian politics, was used to such extent for the first time in 2014 general elections. Also, many critics did not hesitate in saying that the social media played an imperative role in BJP’s (NaMo’s) historic win. Marketers and advertising gurus were pleasantly surprised if this tremendous success was really a result of effective use of digital media!! (Of course, it not being the only reason behind the grand success)

I would restrict the scope of this post to the Indian context; starting from the 2014 General elections to speculating the way ahead. It will give a glimpse of how different parties used this platform, what greatly worked for BJP and how all this made ‘NaMo’ a brand.

Aim of the campaign

Any political party campaign involves making various marketing strategies to have a pull effect on the voters and win the elections. The communication differs from one platform to another and the tone changes as well. Maintaining the consistency across platforms is crucial and is a critical task the marketing team does.

The Team

Almost every political party has one or more advertisement agencies working for them 24×7. There is a whole IT team well equipped to handle different digital platforms and work towards executing the campaigns. On the face of it, it appears yo be simple politics but in the background, it is nothing less than managing a big brand.

(Ex: Advertising agencies Soho Square, Ogilvy and Mather, and media buying agency Madison World—the media team that helped BJP sweep to power in the Lok Sabha elections with the biggest election victory in 30 years)

 

2014 General Elections 

Digital media was being used for the first time in such a manner in Indian political history. Narendra Modi, being a visionary leader, wanted to yield the power of digital and thus gave it a big push. As a result, other parties followed the suit but lacked far behind in their approach as well as execution.

Pre-election survey on political parties’ online presence

War Room 1 – BJP
The team worked 24×7; prompt replies to any comment. Involved in engaging with the public via different platforms. They segregated the voters in different segments and built different strategies to target each set.
The campaign “Ab ki Baar Modi Sarkar” went viral and had maximum reach and recall. Digital and traditional means complemented each other and gave a perfect platform for the launch of BJP.

War Room 2 – Congress
It did not work 24×7. They thought they did not need all such engagement and what BJP was doing was all show-off. They stuck to their conventional mindset thus giving relatively lesser importance to the digital media.

War Room 3 & more
AAP was also actively involved in digital marketing but they were trying to promote a faulty & failed product and everyone knows what happens when the product isn’t good (well the same might go for congress as well, but let’s just give them the benefit of the party size). In the case of many other parties, the war rooms were largely defunct.

Building Brand ‘NaMo’

Modi’s vision for India was laid out at the beginning of the campaign

 

It started with small-small campaigns but in a consistent manner. Masterminds like Prashant Kishor and his team have played an instrumental role in designing Modi’s campaign and projecting him as the brand. Some key steps what the team undertook:

  • Ensured that at least 2 hashtags trended every week
  • Websites India272.com & namonumber.com were launched to augment the voter base
  • Facebook page “I support Narendra Modi” had become very popular amid people
  • Slogan “har har modi, ghar ghar modi” went viral across social media platforms
  • Launch of WhatsApp number 07820078200 to boost up the campaign
  • Digital media being a two-way platform, Modi (team) used to reply to the comments to keep the public engaged

 

Also, there were multiple campaigns rolled out in parallel. All these activities expanded the reach to millions of followers via different digital channels and gave the party an unprecedented push. The whole NaMo wave originated in the country.

 

 

Altogether, the digital strategy gave Modi & BJP a huge push. Extensive reach across platforms ensure the victory even before the elections. Almost all the exit polls had predicted a clean sweep this time & were rather sure about it. Other parties and major candidates were way behind NaMo. Furthermore, NaMo & his team were able to establish that connect with the public. His follower base kept on increasing and as a result, the NaMo wave was turning into a storm.

 

Post-2014 General Elections

NaMo & team did not abandon the digital platform and are putting it to even more use.
The presence of NaMo on various platforms is well maintained, rather increased and the reach is mind boggling

  • Twitter – Has the highest number of followers in India ~29 Mn+
  • Facebook – Has the highest fan base in India – 41 Mn+ likes on his page
  • YouTube – 60k+ subscriptions on his channel. Keeps uploading content for the viewers

All this has been leveraged in state elections since then. This wide network gives him an unimaginable reach. During U.P. assembly elections the power of WhatsApp was also unleashed. 8000+ pro-BJP groups were formed and all groups had the task to increase the message reach exponentially. Platforms were used for content marketing, raising awareness about Govt. policies etc.
The main slogan populated during this time was “Chalo chale Modi ke sath” (Let’s go with Modi). Many other initiatives like “Chai pe Charcha” (Discussion over Tea) were launched, taking the direct public engagement to another level. All these focused and well-planned efforts did pay off and the result is in front of us. The Modi magic doesn’t seem to fade away anytime soon. Keeping up the pace with today’s world and engaging with every sector of the society has helped him make a place in people’s heart.

Closing Thoughts

It was for technology and digital media else it would not have been possible for any individual party to come across with such a support from the public in that short span of time. Digital takes your reach to all new level if executed properly.

3 Cs of communication plays a very important role here – Clarity, Consistency & Continuity.

The way BJP has utilized the power of digital media over past 3 years has been remarkable. Many organizations, brands & start-ups can surely learn from this and decode its power for their success.

Finally – A good product with the perfect marketing strategy & execution can surely reach the epitome! (i.e. having a good product is equally important to close the sale :P)

 

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