How BJP used the power of Social Media to win two consecutive elections
The sweeping victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the recent Indian elections scripted history. Just like the 2014 elections, Social Media Marketing of Brand Modi has played a crucial role in this victory.
The 2014 general elections were historic for many reasons, one being BJP’s astonishing use of social media. BJP won 282 seats out of 543 seats in the parliament. It was the biggest win by any party in India in 40 years. This win is mainly attributed to the Digital Marketing strategy of BJP which proved to be a game changer. It kept it ahead of all other parties. In fact, it was the X-Factor of in the 2014 general elections – also known as “The Social Media Elections”.
The 2014 Modi pre-election campaign was inspired by the 2012 campaign of Barack Obama which made him “World’s first Facebook President”. Days after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Financial Times published a report calling Narendra Modi “India’s first Social Media Prime Minister”. The New York Times used a variation of the same theme a few months later and wrote that “his social media success is not simply because of India’s population. It is the result of a strategy to use social media platforms to bypass traditional media outlets and reach supporters directly.”
Narendra Modi had the first mover advantage in the use of social media, which led to the consecutive victory of BJP in the 2014 and 2019 general elections. His Social media presence created the brand “NaMo”. Branding of Modi through social media was a well-crafted strategy through all social media including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp, etc. India has about 294 million and 250 million active Facebook and WhatsApp users respectively – more than any other democracy. Instagram, another Facebook-owned social media platform, has between 60 million and 80 million users in India. BJP did not miss out on targeting this huge population for their election campaigns. “We saw a trend, where the youth of the country were embracing social media as their first tool when they started using the internet, and we made sure our presence was there,” said Arvind Gupta, who as head of BJP’s IT Division led the party’s campaign.
BJP harnessed the power of social media by using trending content to their advantage. Social media has played a vital role in the personal brand building of Modi. Customized and relatable campaigns like “My first Vote for Modi”, “Main Bhi Chowkidar” and “Modi hai toh Mumkin Hai” became trending. Short videos, memes and GIFs were being circulated extensively on all social media. The Rap Song on YouTube about why Modi deserves the first vote gained tremendous popularity. People promoted BJP’s content because they felt connected with the party’s cause. BJP succeeded in building and maintaining the interests of different voter groups especially targeting the Indian youth through its social media campaigns. FB Political ads were dominated by BJP. Intelligent hashtag Campaigns like “AbkiBaarModiSarkaar”, “#PhirEkBaarModiSarkaar” and “#Main Bhi Chowkidar” added to BJP’s Social Media followers. At present, BJP has 142 million followers across both Modi and Party Social Media Handles. It has numerous social media pages like “My Gov India” (Official) and “Bharat Ke Mann Ki Baat” (Unverified). The YouTube channel of BJP completed 9 years. BJP has 1.7 million followers on Instagram, which has helped in creating the “Modi Wave”.
Social Media has proved to be an important battleground especially during elections. With Indians spending nearly 4 hours a day on mobile phones now, compared to a very little few years ago, twists and turns in the cyber space are going to have huge implications on the elections – which has been proved by BJP’s victory in 2014 and 2019, as it had the first mover advantage in the use of Social Media Marketing. In 2014, for instance, when the Indian National Congress (INC) and Rahul Gandhi were not even on Twitter, the BJP had 370K followers. BJP started early in the Social Media Battle, and the results are right before us today.
What do we learn from this? Be it a small business or National Politics the selling power of Social Media Marketing is phenomenal. Hence, it is vital for influencers and businesses to implement social media to not only stay in the race, but also win it.