Elections 2014 – Mission whatever – 10 steps by which political parties get the best out of social media.

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Its election time – at least, that’s what all the media suggests, with psephologists having a field day 🙂 .

Be it by the scheduled time or sooner, its not too far away that the (mighty Indian) common man will cast his once-in-a-5 year all powerful vote.

This is also the first time that elections to the country will be held after the proliferation of leaders, followers, and influencers in the social band-wagon.

The mainline media is agog with stories as to how this will be one election, which will be also fought and won, with the influence and crowds that parties get or otherwise on social media – be in twitter, face-book or blogs!

How significant the influence of this new media platform will be when the ballot is cast is a raging debate!

That aside, how well can political parties, their leaders and followers make the best of this place, when it comes to brass tacks?

Here are 10 ways party sympathizers clued in to twitter and similar fora can make the best – to make sure they make a difference on the ground.

  1. Political parties must form geographic clusters of social media followers of their respective parties and followers. This may be possible by segmenting the influencers/followers database (if at all they have any – else thats step 0 ).Given the nature of internet penetration and usage across the country, the urban focus and present ‘crowding pattern’ of (any party’s) social media enthusiasts, there will be huge tracts of the country where there’s practically nil followers. This gap analysis is a basic need.
  2. Hiring people (social media influencers), which some parties have planned to do, must begin in these void tracts in social crowding. 
  3. Split the nation into 100 clusters depending on how the party wishes to do it, aligned with the state boundaries and any other similar criteria which the party will deem fit.
  4. Once this job of deciding on 100 clusters is done, the strategic decision of where to hire people, and where to deploy people can be decided, and this will be done on the basis of looking at the follower ‘clustering’ across different regions.
  5. Given the overall number of Lok Sabha seats in the country, which is 545, each of these social media cluster of influencers take the responsibility of making the online-offline connect with 5 or 6 MP seats depending on the task allocation.(This, gives a perspective of the humongous task at hand for the social media followers and influencers of the party). 
  6. The national social media co-ordination committee of the respective parties shall also work closely, with ear on the ground, to customize the message for the respective cluster population, based of socio-economic factors, local issues which could be of impact, national issues, past promises of incumbent (national and cluster specific), and broadcast/engage people online and offline with those messages. The crux of the messaging can be altered based on ground realities/feedback on a fortnightly/weekly basis.
  7. Besides just engaging online, the respective cluster social media leaders/committee will also hold regular weekly message-connect meeting with the local party committees and workers who are on the campaign trail. 
  8. The social media cluster committee can be aligned into a few dedicated members to each LS constituency. These dedicated social media influencers shall be in constant touch with the workers on the ground, in each LS seat, and work closely with them, helping them in message connect, the to-do’s of campaign and also broadcast regular messages on leaders on the campaign trail, countering opponent messaging and use on-field carpet bombing of national issues. 
  9. Critical feedback from the ground to the leadership must happen from these cluster social media influencers. Points like the visit of some leader could influence the balance in favor, ground realities on which factors must be highlighted in public meetings and interactions, the kind of bills that can be distributed door to door etc will be also taken back and forth by the social media party evangelists.
  10. With these as the broad strategy, each of the cluster social media influencers in the party shall have a monthly plan in the run up to the election. This monthly plan shall be brainstormed with the party leaders/important office bearers at the local/regional and national levels. Vetting shall be done for the broad strategic and operations plan for the 100 odd soc-med influence clusters across the nation.

So, push aside all the social buzz what you see now. Does your party have a semblance of the above 10 steps in its social media master plan in the run up 2014?

More importantly, is your social media machinery ready for this kind of a grind?

If yes, then there will be a semblance of influence at the ballot. And if not, better luck next time! 🙂