Ahead of the general elections, political parties in India are attempting to woo voters on social media for the first time.
Politicians are taking part in Google+ Hangouts, televised interviews organised by Facebook and using the Facebook-owned smart phone messaging app WhatsApp to connect with millions of tech-savvy urban voters.
India’s 16th general election – to be held in nine phases over April and May – will be closely fought, with some observers saying social media will play a vital role in deciding which party wins the most seats.
According to a report published in April 2013 by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and the Mumbai-based Iris Knowledge Foundation, Facebook users will “wield a tremendous influence” over the results of the polls in 160 of India’s 543 constituencies.
It’s a finding political parties have taken note of, with major contenders like the ruling Congress party and main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) earmarking 2-5% of their election budgets for social media, according to an October 2013 study by IAMAI and Mumbai-based market researcher IMRB International.
Narendra Modi has his own website and is on Twitter, Facebook and Google+