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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

Who's winning, losing elections on the web

Anuja Jaiman, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 07, 2014
First Published: 17:53 IST(7/4/2014) | Last Updated: 19:37 IST(9/4/2014)

Apart from hitting the campaign trail on the ground and through conventional media, politicians and parties have made an effort to be in sync with voters online for the Lok Sabha polls.

After all, this is being touted as the first truly digital elections of India. Here is why.   
 
A solid social media campaign can swing 3-4% of votes, says an Internet and Mobile Association of India estimate.
 
For instance, in the 24 hours following the March 5 announcement of elections, mention of the word ‘election’ went up by 561% among India’s Facebook users. Similarly, the traction for ‘Lok Sabha’ soared by 150%.
 
Online campaigns and engagement between lawmakers and people are now a part of the political vocabulary.
 
This makes sense because India has the third largest internet user base globally — more than 238 million, a bulk of them youngsters.
 
Of the total internet users, more than 100 million are active on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter.
 
Trends and stats from the past three months provide interesting insights in poll season.
 
Google indicates the big three — Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal, Rahul Gandhi — have been searched the most.

Tracking peaks
 
Narendra Modi: March 26, when he began the first of his scheduled 185 ‘Bharat Vijay’ rallies
Arvind Kejriwal: February 14, when he resigned from the post of Delhi CM
Rahul Gandhi: January 28, following his interview to a news channel

Google is tracking the elections in a big way. "In the last five months, we have made a concerted effort to provide our users a one-stop destination for all their information needs for the Lok Sabha elections,” said Rajan Anandan, VP and managing director, Google India.

Read: What Google search trends reveal about this election season
 
Facebook too is in the act with an election tracker. Modi is now the second most 'liked' politician on Facebook after US President Barack Obama, according to Facebook data.

The graph depict stats over the last seven days.

Online stars

Number of Facebook likes; Number of Twitter followers
Narendra Modi 12.5M; 3.7M
Arvind Kejriwal 5M; 1.61M
Omar Abdullah 2115; 478K
Shashi Tharoor 175K; 2.14M


Beyond the search space, Twitter sees considerable action. The 140-character platform is seeing engaging debates, fights and counterattacks.
 
Twitter users have grown rapidly since the last general elections. "In the 2009 general elections, only a handful of candidates used Twitter, with parties mostly being absent from the platform. This election, on the contrary, is a Twitter Election,” said Raheel Khursheed, head of news, politics, govt, Twitter India.
 
“Everyone who needs to be on Twitter is on it. Those who aren't, are missing out at their own cost.”

Related: Google launches tool to provide info on Lok Sabha candidates

Full coverage: My India my vote

(Edited by Ipsit Mohapatra)


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