The 16th General (Lok Sabha) Elections 2014 has found its way in conversations not just in political circles but also on social media. And Twitter seems to be the platform of choice to vent anger/resentment/disappointment or to simply woo supporters. Candidates, journalists and citizens are using social media extensively to discover election-related content and converse with others real time.
According to statistics released by Twitter, the total number of election-related tweets by 5.00 pm on April 17, 2014, were 6,45,521, while the total reach of such tweets during the same period was 2.2 billion. The top 10 election-related terms during the period were Narendra Modi, BJP, AAP, #myvoteforcongress, #votecongresstoday, Arvind Kejriwal, #IsBaarChalegiJhaadu, #Election2014, #LeaderNaMo and #AbkiBaar300Paar, in that order. Further, statistics reveal that election-related topics take up four of the top five Twitter trends.
Research findings by digital agency To The New show some interesting trends on Twitter over a period of 30 days preceding April 4, 2014. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal), who has built an impressive fan following on Twitter, had nearly 300 tweets of which 53 per cent were retweets while only 6 per cent were replies. Ashutosh (@ashutosh083B), former TV journalist-turned politician with the AAP, has been the most active Indian politician on Twitter during the 30-day period of the study, with approximately 14 tweets per day, which is higher than even Modi's daily average of 11.5 tweets. Modi (@narendramodi) had 345 tweets in all, which included 2 per cent retweets and 2 per cent replies. Sanjay Jha (@JhaSanjay), national spokesperson, Congress, tweeted 310 times over the 30-day period. Junior education minister and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) tweeted 311 times.
Social media marketing firm Team Pumpkin has further caught onto the political wave on Twitter with a study that reveals that Kejriwal is giving a tough fight to Modi, while the Congress is much behind both the AAP and the BJP. While Kejriwal and Digvijay Singh tweet about the BJP and Modi, NaMo talks about the Congress but doesn't name individuals. Modi tweets from an iPad, Android phone and the web, mostly in the evening between 5.00-10.00 pm. Nearly 26 per cent of his tweets are linked with nm4.in, indiancag.org, www.bjp.org and www.india272.com. Kejriwal tweets from an Android phone mostly in the morning around 10.00 am or in the evening around 10.00 pm. Nearly 22 per cent of his tweets are with links to YouTube and news sites like FirstPost.
'Modi' is the most talked about political term on Twitter. However, last month the term was used less positively than terms 'Kejriwal' and 'Rahul'. This may be due to the sheer volume of tweets and Modi being the centre of all debates. Kejriwal is definitely the fastest growing leader on Twitter in the last three months with a growth of 42 per cent. Modi got the slowest growth of 16 per cent but his follower base is more than double that of Kejriwal. The study analyses 'Rahul', 'Kejriwal' and 'Modi' as terms on Twitter, and not individuals.
Globally, political figures like the US President Barack Obama or spiritual leaders like the Dalai Lama are quite active on Twitter, having figured out how the power of micro-blogging platform in influencing public opinion. It will be interesting to watch what this new age tool in the hands of Indian politicians can do when it comes to the elections results.