Narendra Modi: The Pied Piper of Twitter (Politician)

Recently on his show, Koffee With Karan, Karan Johar asked three celebrity youngsters who’s the President of India. Responses varied from Manmohan Singh to Prithviraj Chauhan to pass over. Perhaps, Johar would have received a correct response to the question, “Who is the Chief Minister of Gujarat?”
He’s neither a marketing guru nor has he formally studied the Keller's Brand Equity Model; however Narendra Modi has successfully advanced on the brand pyramid starting from creating brand awareness to defining brand purpose to gathering brand response and to building brand advocates. He’s the undisputed Pied Piper (Politician) of the Indian Social Media but the question still remains - will he be able to win the 2014 elections and if he does, how much credit can be given to Social Media? Here’s a review on his journey from - being the Chief Minister of Gujarat to a universally accepted National Leader.


In 2007, YouTube was the first social platform that Modi befriended. His journey on Twitter and Facebook commenced in the month of Januray 2009 and May 2009 respectively. On 14th April 2009, on the occasion of the 118th birth anniversary of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Narendra Modi started blogging and he also had a personal website by then. In 2010, Modi’s Twitter follower base increased to one lakh and by December 2011, he had over four lakh followers which finally crossed the one million milestone in October 2012. He’s named to be the first Indian politician to use Google Hangout and have an App on his name, ‘iModi’. As per FollowerWonk, as on Dec 30, 2013 Modi has about 3,040,192 followers on Twitter and his social authority is 81 (on the scale of 1 – 100; where 1 is lowest and 100 is highest). On Facebook, Modi has 7,549,972 likes and 960,914 people talking about him.


Modi’s content strategy changed as per his objectives. In the early days of creating a brand identity, he established his presence on various social platforms. His Facebook posts were simultaneously sent to Twiter; the content revolved around inspirational quotes (his favourite leader is Swami Vivekanand), quotes from scriptures and his daily activities. In this stage, Modi certainly measured the number of posts and also the content; perhaps he was testing the water then!


In the second stage of building the brand meaning, Modi focused on "performance" and in turn built his "imagery." He started taking about his achievements and the developments in Gujarat; his fans and followers had started engaging by liking, sharing and commenting. While he garnered support, he also invited criticism by opposition, media and a few citizens.


In the thirst stage of building brand response, Modi’s focus shifted on helping his audience build "judgments" and "feelings." This was the stage where Modi built his credibility, increased his consideration and amplified his superiority. He took to an unusual move by mass following people on Twitter. As on January 01, 2012, he was following 174 people and as on Dec 30. 2013 he is following 885 people. Apart from following his colleagues in the BJP, international leaders, eminent celebrities, Modi also followed a few of his fans and well-wishers. A top public figure’s 'following back’ spree indicated that he is as much a people’s person; this created an army of advocates. Now here I can say that Narendra Modi is the Pied Piper of Twitter (Politician) and his magical pipes (loyal advocates) are:


@MrsGandhi, @sunandavashisht, @tajinderbagga, @anilkohli54, @alok_bhatt, @ratigirl, @KiranKS, @ThinkersPad, @nanditathhakur, @VarshaRitu_, @shilpitewari, @sureshnakhua and more…


By that time Modi has tweeted 724 tweets and since then the frequency of his tweets and posts increased. Also, there was a notable change in the content strategy; in addition to sharing his credentials, he turned more vocal about the opposition and created strong statements to express his opinions. He managed to draw attention of many, reinforced confidence in his existing followers and built conviction of those who were neutral about him. Beginning 2012 up to date, Modi has remained the most talked about politicians on the social media creating a Twitter trend every now and then. Those who were pro-Modi helped in elevating his image and those who were anti-Modi coined the term “Feku” for him. Several questions were raised on genuineness of his fans and followers; controversial stories around he manipulating online poll results to elevate his image were all over. Also, question was raised on how fan following on social media would translate in to a vote for the BJP.


Sentiments on the Social Media clearly signalled appeal for the brand “Modi”. In September 2013, Modi was declared the BJPs prime ministerial candidate for 2014. Now begins Modi’s final stage of building brand resonance with active campaigning for election. Jiten Gajaria of the BJP’s social media cell said, “We are bringing about convergence of social media with ground-level mobilisation. Although many claim that social media had little penetration among the “masses”, who actually come out and cast their ballot, even a minor swing in votes could change fortunes.” The party has now set up 12 tables from where volunteers, who are not party members, can tweet minute-by-minute updates on election rallies. Since November 2013, the party has been extensively using SMSes, emails, Twitter and Facebook to garner support for various rallies. All his events are available LIVE on the YouTube.


A survey earlier this year had claimed that social media could influence the outcome in 160 of the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies, of which the maximum — 21 were from Maharashtra. A coincidental fact to support the claim, that social media could influence the outcome of election, is four of five state elections have been won by the BJP. We’ll watch and see the outcome in 2014, but certainly Social Media has contributed in the making of the brand “Modi”.


If you liked this post, you will also enjoy reading The King Khan: Pied Piper of Twitter (Bollywood) and Chetan Bhagat: The Pied Piper of Twitter (Author & Management Guru).