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Social media to strongly influence 2014 Lok Sabha polls, may swing 3-4% votes

Zia Haq and Subhendu Ray, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 09, 2013
First Published: 08:48 IST(9/10/2013) | Last Updated: 11:01 IST(9/10/2013)

As more and more young Indians go online, social media will strongly influence India’s 2014 general elections and may swing 3-4% votes, two new surveys have revealed.

In urban seats, social-media usage is now “sufficiently widespread” to influence politics, according to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). An offline study conducted by market research firm TNS and Google India suggested similar shifts.

The IAMAI’s I-Cube 2013 survey, conducted in partnership with the Indian Market Research Bureau, said social media users in urban India would swell to 91 million (more than the UK’s population) by December 2013: A jump of 17% since June 2013.

Social-media platforms are likely to be influential in 160 of India’s 543 Parliament constituencies, making Facebook and Twitter users the nation’s newest voting bloc, according to a previous IAMAI survey released in April.

“I think these trends are hyped and the impact, if any, would only be marginal,” said Communist Party of India MP, Gurudas Dasgupta, who created a Facebook account only last month.

According to Google India-TNS’s findings, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi are the two most-searched politicians.

Research shows social media can be more persuasive than TV ads. Nearly 100 million Indians use the Internet each day. Of this, 40 million have assured broadband, the ones most likely to have at least one social media account.

“A large section of the urban young voters go online with several election related queries,” said Google India vice-president and managing director, Rajan Anandan.

Google India said its survey suggests that the Internet would play a key role in influencing the undecided urban population in the upcoming elections.

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