IT and social media to get a boost as election campaigns to start soon

Infotech Lead Asia: The Indian IT industry is set to get a boost as election campaigns of major political parties will start soon.

Major political parties — the ruling Congress, BJP, CPM, SP, BSP, etc. will spend heavily for online promotions. Their IT and social media budget for election campaign is not known.

Political campaigns abroad

The estimated price tag for the U.S. elections in November 2012 was almost $6 billion

Political parties in the U.K. spent $49 million during the last general election UK three years ago – making U.S. spending 120 times as much, and 23 times as much per person, BBC reported.

In the U.S., online campaigning is the biggest area of growth, but it still accounts for a relatively modest amount of money spent.

TV campaign ads reign supreme in the battle for votes (at least in terms of costs), eating up, it is estimated, over half of all campaign spending.

By comparison, the Conservative, Liberal and NDP national campaigns in Canada were authorized to spend approximately $21 million each during 2011.

Instead of billion-dollar campaigns, Israeli parties make do with budgets in the low millions or sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars — almost all of it publicly funded.

In Israel, which is going through a social media driven revolution, foreign donations are allowed only during internal party primaries, and general election campaign donations are limited to about $500 per household. Television ads are permitted only a few weeks before the elections, and only at designated times.

Expenses for holding the election campaign for Moscow mayor will amount to around 400 million rubles.

Indian parties campaign on social media

Indian political parties increasingly are turning to social media, Facebook in particular. Many politicians, and almost all the major party leaders, have an active Facebook page. Google + Hangout is also becoming popular in India.

Recently, Minister of state for IT, Communications and Shipping, Milind Deora, hosted a live session with the net citizens on the Google+ Hangout.

Shashi Tharoor is a well known politician who uses Twitter.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and the chief campaigner for the 2014 elections, has tapped Rajesh Jain and BG Mahesh to drive his social media campaign in the run-up to next year’s general elections.

Jain, who sold IndiaWorld to Sify for Rs 499 crore in late ’90s, and Mahesh, who founded IndiaInfo and OneIndia, are putting together a 100-member content and technology team in Bangalore to drive Modi’s internet campaign.

The Internet and Mobile push

Since its launch in July 2011, the Google+ community has grown rapidly with more than 500 million users worldwide. Google+ Hangouts allow up to 10 people participating at a point of time to join the hangout. Users can later share the hangout on YouTube or live stream it using Hangouts on Air.

According to IMRB, the number of mobile internet users in India increased to 87.1 million in December 2012 from 78.7 million users in October 2012, who accessed Internet through dongles and tablet PCs.

Globally, over 751million monthly active users use Facebook on mobile. The number of active users checking the site on mobile devices has surpassed the number of people checking the site on desktops.

Idea Cellular recently partnered with Facebook for allowing users to send messages, share pictures, locations and start group conversations with friends while on-the-move through the Facebook Messenger application. The service is free for Idea users.

The free Facebook Messenger service will be available for all Idea prepaid users who use any Android device and iOS. The free service can be used by downloading the application from Play store in Android and App store in iOS phones.

2013 and 2014 will be the year of social media and IT driven campaigns for political parties. Since mobile internet and broadband are set to grow further, IT will take a front seat for major campaigners. Several IT firms will benefit from this revolution.

Pix: Livemint.com

Baburajan K
[email protected]