The Digital Vote Bank - The Tipping point in 2009 General Elections in India

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The buzz for India's15th general elections has started brimming with anticipation of choosing a leader who adequately represents the ‘mass’ as well as the ‘class’ of over one billion inhabitants. Political parties need to step in tune with expectations of an evolving electoral base which is intelligent, opinionated, and leverages the power of the digital medium to find its individual voice amongst a crowd.
The following discussion elucidates the need for political parties to change the Indian campaign/political landscape by including a bottom-up interactive online strategy to communicate with and engage the central character in this effort – ‘The Voter’.

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The Digital Vote Bank - The Tipping point in 2009 General Elections in India

  1. 1. 1 The Digital Vote Bank: The Tipping point in 2009 General Elections? www.webchutney.com © 2009. All rights reserved. Webchutney Studio Private Limited
  2. 2. 2 Summary After 62 years of freedom, it is time for political parties of the world’s largest democratic nation to sit up and take stock of digital currents that have turned political campaigning on its own head. The buzz for our 15th general elections has started brimming with anticipation of choosing a leader who adequately represents the ‘mass’ as well as the ‘class’ of over one billion inhabitants. Political parties need to step in tune with expectations of an evolving electoral base which is intelligent, opinionated, and leverages the power of the digital medium to find its individual voice amongst a crowd. The following discussion elucidates the need for political parties to change the Indian campaign/political landscape by including a bottom-up interactive online strategy to communicate with and engage the central character in this effort – ‘The Voter’. www.webchutney.com © 2009. All rights reserved. Webchutney Studio Private Limited
  3. 3. 3 Debunking the Internet Myth Wired India today has evolved exponentially in comparison with India in 2004. The Internet population of the country is at 49 Million users 1 today. The mobile base of the country is almost at a whopping 300 Million 2. Studies by Juxt Consult, an online research and advisory firm reveal that the online medium has witnessed a 33% growth in all urban users over last year. The Internet has become a dominant medium in the daily lives of regular users. Time Spent on all Media (Internet Population) Internet 36% on weekdays Juxt Consult reports 41% of Internet users log on to the net everyday for two TV 14% hours or more. And 81% of them ‘Interact’ on this medium, through Chats, Newspaper 2% Social Networks, Communities and Blogs. Radio 10% Audience measurement firm Comscore, in its report claims nearly 60.3% of internet Top 10 Online Activities % Undertaking users are present on User generated content destinations such as Orkut, Facebook, Emailing 91 Job Search 72 Youtube etc. Further analysis reveals that on an average a net user undertakes over Instant Messaging 70 15 activities online, and 7 of the top 10 activities fall in the ‘personal life’ domain. Check News 63 These statistics indicate that the digital medium is one of the fastest growing Check Sports 57 mediums in the country, and considering the fact that 40% of the electorate is Download Music / Movies 54 Checking Cricket Score 50 reportedly going to be first time voters, it’s hard to ignore the potential of both Dating / Friendship 50 Internet and Mobile media. Matrimonial Search 49 English Info Search Engine 49 www.webchutney.com © 2009. All rights reserved. Webchutney Studio Private Limited
  4. 4. 4 The Target Audience – An ‘Empowered’ Voter In the past, people have mattered more than ideas. This ideology has flipped with the advent of new digital platforms which allow people to engage in direct communication with one another, encompassing socio-political divides. In a political context, the masses are increasingly conscious of the fact that elections are won on the promise of a progressive, tangible future… not on past performances. Issues are taking center-stage today as recency plays the biggest role. They have differing opinions, and make clear choices which yield direct benefits in their personal lives. They listen, engage with, trust each other and revel in the democratic access to information in the new digital age, impervious to old-school political rallies and traditional war cries. The Neo Voter Landscape www.webchutney.com © 2009. All rights reserved. Webchutney Studio Private Limited
  5. 5. 5 Case Study – Barack Obama’s Digital Campaign ‘I am asking you to believe not in my ability to bring about real change. I’m asking you to believe in yours’ Barack Obama won the presidency in a landslide victory by converting everyday people into engaged and empowered volunteers, donors and advocates through social networks, e-mail advocacy, text messaging & online video. The campaign’s proclivity to online advocacy is a major reason for his victory. A few highlights3: MyBarackObama.com (Obama’s own social network)– 2 Million • profiles Over 400,000 blog posts written • 5,066,446 members/supporters in largest Facebook Group • 3,000,000people signed up for Obama’s mobile text-messaging • program 109,892 followers on Twitter • Obama’s opt-in e-mail database contains over 13,000,000 addresses • BarackObama.com - main body of text is like a blog, modeled on Web2.0 design ‘Brand Obama’ was omnipresent wherever his electorate was found online. From the niche audience to suburban moms, he used flexible segmentation tactics to reach out to and offer targeted information across demographics and psychographics. A total of 8,000,000USD was spent on online advertising and 500,000 USD on social networking sites during his campaign. The campaign spent a sizeable amount on search marketing, direct ad-buys (CPM based display ads) on prominent websites. The underlying tone of Change, Hope and Action in Obama’s ‘Yes we can, you and me together’ campaign was powered by the web, and has marked a new revolution in American politics – Change.gov www.webchutney.com © 2009. All rights reserved. Webchutney Studio Private Limited
  6. 6. 6 Going Digital – Need of the Hour A comparative study of Obama’s online campaign vis-à-vis any Indian political party is not feasible. Because the truth is that internet penetration in India is relatively less. But we know that digital is the way of the future. And 57 Million is not a small figure for a start. A key learning for political parties is to embrace new technology, and to go to where people are, on their terms. They need to be inclusive, unifying and create a sense of shared involvement. Instead of relying on the traditional one-way, top-down approach to communications, the incoming administration should harness the power of public engagement to influence the conversation across various spheres of cross-influence. Leaders need to Interact and listen in a healthy ‘Trialogue’ between person-party-person conversations. They need to create a dominant presence which leverages offline campaigns with online strategies, through social media, Web 2.0 compliant conversational platforms – website, blogs, and engage in online media buying, planning, SEO, SEM targeting. This will lead to overall efficiency of political Web sites in attracting members of the electorate, engaging them, involving them and ultimately retaining them as loyal supporters. The parties should use their Web sites as strategic marketing tools and demonstrate an awareness of the advantages the Internet has to offer compared with other media. Their massive pre-election campaign budgets that have been estimated to be about 200 Crores INR can easily accommodate a proportion of Obama’s online campaign spends to achieve what he has, or more. Old school marketing/propaganda needs to be replaced with new school ideas. It is time for Indian politics to evolve to the next level, to show what’s in store for the future of our nation. (1) Source Juxt Consult India Online 2008 (www.juxtconsult.com) (2) Source: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) (www.trai.gov.in) (3) Source www.clickz.com www.webchutney.com © 2009. All rights reserved. Webchutney Studio Private Limited
  7. 7. 7 Writer Profiles Shweta Bhandari has a diverse business profile including blue-chip companies like American Express and GE. After a career in training and development, she has recently made a smooth transition into the world of Internet marketing and research. Her passion for discovery and thirst to engage in new challenges lend immense scope and dimension to this field. She can be reached at shweta.bhandari@webchutney.net Vikram is the Vice President and Branch Head for the Delhi operations at Webchutney. Prior to this, Vikram worked for more than 10 years in Advertising and has diverse experience on multinational clients accounts across industries like IT (Microsoft, HP - IPG / Personal Computers), FMCG (Unilever - Beverages), Internet Companies (Monster.com), Insurance (MetLife), Automobiles (General Motors). He has also had stints at Sales (Pepsi) and Marketing (Indigo Radio - BPL) About Webchutney Recently ranked as India’s Number 1 Digital Marketing Agency, Webchutney offers interactive consultancy services like UI development, media planning and buying, using emerging platforms, social media, campaign and strategy planning and management. With a robust portfolio of clients spread across all verticals, we work with blue chip companies Microsoft, HP, P&G, Samsung, Airtel, Citibank, Pepsi and exciting startups & internet companies like Google, Yahoo, MSN, and MakeMyTrip.com etc. We are team of over 150 digital marketing professionals across New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Visit us at www.webchutney.com for more information. www.webchutney.com © 2009. All rights reserved. Webchutney Studio Private Limited

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