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Influencers hog limelight in poll season; Rajasthan govt notifies ad rates

Both govts and political parties woo them for campaigns; Rajasthan govt notifies ad rates

Social-media influencers. Illustration: Binay Sinha

Illustration: Binay Sinha

Archis Mohan New Delhi

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In a first, the Rajasthan government has brought social-media influencers — those with a significant following on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter — on a par with print and electronic media for issuing advertisements to spread the message about its welfare schemes.

The Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government announced earlier this week it would give advertisements for sums anywhere between Rs 10,000 and Rs 5 lakh to social-media influencers if they propagated government schemes and programmes. The state government has categorised influencers into four categories: Category A with a minimum of 1 million subscribers/followers, category B with half a million subscribers/followers, category C with 100,000 subscribers/followers, and category D with at least 10,000 subscribers/followers.

Rajasthan is scheduled for Assembly elections in the first week of December, and the Election Commission’s model code of conduct is likely to kick in by mid-October, which would debar government advertisements.

However, the government’s step reflects the larger trend of the increasing importance of social-media influencers for the Centre and state governments and political parties.

Recently, Union Cabinet ministers Piyush Goyal, S Jaishankar, and Rajeev Chandrasekhar were interviewed by popular YouTuber Ranveer Allahbadia, who has 5.63 million subscribers, while Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan were interviewed by Raj Shamani. 

The Jaishankar interview has gathered over 5 million views over the past 12 days. YouTubers have maintained it was a collaboration that did not involve money.

On Friday, Goyal met nearly 50 popular YouTubers for more than five hours to explore how they could talk about government efforts to promote tourism, popularise handlooms, and handicrafts or even spread awareness on cyber security.

Motivational speaker Vivek Bindra, Ganesh Prasad (Think School), Gaurav Chaudhary (Technical Guruji), and Prafull Billore (MBA Chai Wala) were some who attended.

During his Bharat Jodo Yatra, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi gave interviews exclusively to well-known YouTubers, avoiding the mainstream print and electronic media, with whom he interacted with during press conferences. The Congress leadership has for several years felt the mainstream media is not fair to either the party or its leadership. Nor does it heed the issues of public interest that the Congress raises. Gandhi was interviewed by YouTubers like Samdish Bhatia and Kamiya Jani.

According to the findings of Oxford University’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism survey, released in mid-June, 53 per cent Indians accessed news on YouTube, 51 per cent on WhatsApp, 39 per cent on Facebook, 32 per cent on Instagram, and 20 per cent each on Telegram and Twitter.

The Rajasthan government’s Information and Public Relations Department notified the advertisement rates on Monday. The notification stated exceptions could be made if a departmental committee deemed fit a payment of up to Rs 5 lakh to well-known influencers in an area even if they did not have the required number of followers.

For “empanelment” with the Rajasthan government, influencers have to show their activity profile. For example, category A social media influencers should have posted at least 100 videos or 150 posts in the last six months.

The state government has promised Rs 5 lakh worth of advertisements a month for category A, Rs 2 lakh for category B, Rs 50,000 for category C, and Rs 10,000 for category D.

The government notification has detailed rates for each Facebook and Instagram post and tweet. For example, a Facebook or Instagram reel posted by a category A social influencer will be paid Rs 10,000 and that by category D Rs 1,000. Similarly, a tweet or a video by a category A influencer will get Rs 10,000.

On Tuesday, while addressing the BJP’s polling-booth workers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged the importance of advertisements, urging them to paste the Central or BJP-run state governments’ advertisements to publications on a board at a prominent place in the village square.

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First Published: Jun 30 2023 | 12:25 AM IST

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