Saturday, Nov 01, 2014

Can Modi and Co continue to bank on social media reach?

A recent Pew survey found that only 16 per cent of Indians use the internet at least occasionally or own a smartphone. A recent Pew survey found that only 16 per cent of Indians use the internet at least occasionally or own a smartphone.
Express News Service | New Delhi | Posted: June 30, 2014 10:46 am | Updated: June 30, 2014 10:48 am

Social media played a crucial role in the landslide victory of Narendra Modi in the last Lok Sabha elections. Well before any party could gauge the power of this platform, Modi was already creating wave and setting the agenda for the BJP on Internet. Now that the results are for all to see, Modi wants to further enhance his party’s reach in this uncharted and ever emerging platform.

Recently, in the workshop of newly elected MPs, several of the leaders sought the party’s help in using online communication tools.

A team of 20 has reportedly been detailed to monitor tweets tagging the prime minister and to feed him trending topics every eight hours. However, the arithmetic introduces complications. A recent Pew survey found that only 16 per cent of Indians use the internet at least occasionally or own a smartphone. Of these, 51 per cent use social networks. Of these, 35 per cent talk politics online.

If you work out the percentages, you will realise that a paltry 2.8 per cent of India talks politics online. And the Modi sarkar thinks this tiny club will swing the next election? But wait, do not scoff immediately. While internet access lags, 77 per cent of Indians have a mobile phone. And this week, Google has shown a commitment – by promoting Android L, a stripped down but capable operating system – to see that all 77 per cent have smartphones. So long as they’re Android, naturally.

Socially speaking, India is already one of the biggest emerging markets, and Google can only improve our access scores. Which means that the Modi sarkar is on the beam — the connected minority may yet gain enough strength to become a player in the national discourse.

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