Politics today isn’t just about getting elected. It’s also about getting socially elected. We’ve moved beyond just the traditional rallies, tents, hordes of people, naarebaazi, boom box speeches that surrounded every election. The promise of people online, their social endorsement, is what parties jostle for. Politicians are aware that they now must gratify people in both real and virtual worlds. Social media connects people, gets them talking and sharing; allows campaigners to know the voters, target ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼specific audience, splice demographics, mobilize support, and urge them to participate. When some of these people, otherwise part of the audience, get actively engaged in politi- cal debates, they become a great tool to spread the word and influence opinion. There will be about 149 million first-time voters in 2014. Majority of the first-time voters belong to a demographic to whom technology comes easy. Assuming that a significant chunk of these voters belong to urban India, then they can easily be targeted through social media. So for example, if the difference in votes between the Congress and BJP was just 40 million, could the Internet brigade be urged, provoked, inspired, and encouraged to bridge this gap? In the last election the number of people who voted in favour of Congress exceeded the BJP by 40 million. So this 40 million added to the fresh voters coming to polls, are now the big focus of the social media campaigns. Can social media influence these voters? The answer may not be an unequivocal yes, but it certainly isn’t a no. It’s an answer in progress.
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