Chandigarh MC polls: Parties tap into power of social media to reach out to voters

While social media tools such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Facebook are being used to share the party vision, big data is being used to know the electorate better and run a “sharper” campaign.
Chandigarh MC will go to the polls in December. Staring at anti-incumbency, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is banking on a campaign message focused on “development” to retain its majority in the House. (HT File)
Chandigarh MC will go to the polls in December. Staring at anti-incumbency, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is banking on a campaign message focused on “development” to retain its majority in the House. (HT File)
Published on Nov 07, 2021 03:35 AM IST
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ByMunieshwer A Sagar, Chandigarh

Social media, mobile apps and big data are being tapped into a big way as political parties step up their campaign for the Chandigarh municipal corporation election.

While social media tools such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Facebook are being used to share the party vision, big data is being used to know the electorate better and run a “sharper” campaign.

The MC will go to the polls in December. Staring at anti-incumbency, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is banking on a campaign message focused on “development” to retain its majority in the House.

BJP state president Arun Sood said the party’s social media strategy is one of the three pillars of its campaign. “We will not go for large public gatherings this time around. Personal contact, door-to-door campaign and social media will be our three pillars,” he said.

The party has created booth-wise WhatsApp groups for all the 595 booths in the city. The voters of a pooling booth are made members of these groups. “As there is a limit on the number of members in a group, we try to include the lead member of every family in the area. The booth pradhan is the group administrator. He knows the local issues and has the data of all people in the locality,” said Sood.

Weaved around its development plank, the BJP has shot small duration videos showcasing its “achievements” in the past five years. These videos, generally tailored to a particularly area, are then being shared on these groups. “We have created 60-90 second videos on 50 development achievements,” said the party present.

Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is encouraging its party workers to create videos concerning different issues of their wards and the city. These videos will be shared on different social media platforms, particularly WhatsApp and Telegram groups.

Bikram Dhawan, senior vice-president, AAP, Chandigarh, said: “We have created WhatsApp group in different wards for party workers. Telegram groups have also been created as they give more flexibility. The groups will also help us have a two-way communication with the electorate.”

For the Congress, a control room has been created in its Sector 35 city headquarters. HS Lucky, chief spokesperson, Chandigarh Congress, said: “Our dedicated social media team is ready and is managing the control room. In coming days, we will step up the momentum of our social media campaign with videos and text messages. Satirical videos on inflation and other public-related issues are already doing very well with people.”

The party has also made WhatsApp groups in wards and is also encouraging its workers to communicate with voters in other groups, such as those of resident welfare associations.

Big data

With its focus still on the membership drive, the AAP has created a specific mobile app for its workers to help expand its party base in the city and create a wide database.

“The app has detailed information about the electorate in every ward of the city. After interacting with people, we can also add more details about a family and create specific profiles. With more information about people, like what issues concern them and what type of candidate they want, we can create a sharper campaign strategy in the days to come,” said Dhawan. The app also helps the party keep a tab on the performance of its workers in the membership drive.

Even in the last election, parties had made use of data related to electorate and social media. However, this time around, the focus is on streamlining the message, said party insiders.

“The social media use pattern has changed a lot since the last election. Different social media platforms are being used to approach different sets of electorate. The message is also being made crisper as people don’t even have time to watch small videos as their WhatsApp and Telegram groups are already full of messages,” said Mahendra Kumar Nirala, convener, IT Cell, Chandigarh BJP.

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Sunday, December 05, 2021