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Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp have been the dominating platforms for political parties, used as a means to promote and engage the audience in India, during elections. The new entrant in this list is Instagram, that has emerged as a key platform for general elections of 2019 in India.
Key Stats: Indian Government & Instagram
In December 2018, the “Good Governance Department” or the Sushasan Vibhaag of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party launched an Instagram account that was being dynamically pushed out on the party’s WhatsApp groups. The account is created mainly for sharing infographics highlighting the achievements of the National Democratic Alliance- led Government over its four-and-a-half-year period at the centre. The party also flaunts official account on Instagram by the handle @bjp4india, Facebook and Twitter, with 1.2 million, 15 million and 10.3 million followers respectively.
Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi is quite active on Twitter and is stated to be the third most followed world leader with currently 44.9 million followers on his personal account and 26 million (currently 27.6 million) followers on his institutional account on Twitter.
Other opposition parties such as Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are also quite active on their Instagram profiles. The official page by Congress party flaunts 280k followers, whereas AAP has got a follower profile of 58.5k. Other regional parties such as Shiv Sena, Jana Sena are also going the social media way to engage a younger audience and promote their campaigns.
The growing popularity of social media channels is evident with many reports suggesting that Instagram’s user growth has almost doubled in the last few years in not just metros but also among Tier 2 and Tier 3 users.
Given the fact that Instagram engages a younger audience, it serves as the ideal platform for political parties to engage them. In fact, a report even suggested that Election Commission of India (ECI) had managed to register 2.6 crores between the age of 18 to 20 years of age, a majority of which could be attributed to engagement through Instagram.
A report by UN suggests that by 2050 India will have an added 416 million urban dwellers on social media. As of Oct 2018, India is ranked second with 71 million monthly users on Instagram. It can, therefore, be said that there is no better platform than Instagram this year for political parties to showcase their campaigning.
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How Are Indian Political Parties Using Instagram?
The Indian political parties like BJP and Congress are using this platform ceaselessly for promoting their social works, broadcasting campaign reports, managing the party’s front and to keep the supporters updated with their current and future activities. They are even actively highlighting the stories in their timelines with important and special activities. Below are some of the posts by political parties that shows that Instagram is going to be a key part of their strategy going forward.
In this post shared by BJP’s official page is about PM Narendra Modi inaugurating the reservoir project of Jharkhand.
The below post shows the declaration of new Chief Minister of Rajasthan from Indian National Congress from the election that was held in Dec 2018.
Aam Aadmi Party announced that Renowned Actor Prakash Raj would contest Loksabha Elections in 2019 in this post.
What’s Been Done In The Past
This is not the first time that political parties are promoting their campaign on social media. Countries like Sweden and The US have been promoting their political campaigns on social media including Instagram since long.
For instance, the Swedish political parties during 2014 elections used Instagram as a strategic tool to carry out communication with voters to persuade and mobilise them. The researchers conducted a content analysis of 220 party postings of photos as well as its captions on Instagram during the hot phase of election and evaluated it to come out with best results.
Similarly, in the US, while Twitter and Facebook held the grip during the Obama campaign in 2012, in the following years Instagram turned out to be a game changer as it marked a huge increase in the number of followers, which was higher than the number of Twitter users.
While India is a little late in embracing Instagram for political benefits, it comes at a right time. With the elections nearing, it might prove to be the “Instagram Year” for the political parties as they are now using the benefits of being a digital country.
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