Twitter targets political campaigning for global elections

26 May 2014

Having recently tapped into the world’s largest ever election in India earlier this month, Twitter is now targeting the next major national elections worldwide as the base for politicians’ campaigning.

While Ireland’s own local elections and European elections this week have seen little social media promotion bar the occasional tech-savvy candidate, India’s Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) implemented the first major Twitter campaign to tap into the country’s youth vote, something that is vital in a country where two-thirds of its 1bn-plus population is under 35.

While the microblogging site was previously seen used in the US elections in 2012 and other political protests and movements across Ukraine and the Middle East, this would be considered the largest targeted campaigning by one particular party.

Given that the end result of elections saw the BJP’s leader Narendra Modi, who has 4.3m followers on Twitter, make one of the most successful rises to power ever seen in the Asian state, the effectiveness of its use is clear to see.

Regularly posting ‘selfies’ of himself with his mother and other familiar faces, Modi also experimented with other technological campaigning means, including holograms, which Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tried in Turkey’s own national elections.

Milan Vaishnav of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told Reuters growing markets in the developing world can provide the perfect incubation for politically targeted tweets, much more so than the developed world.

“The Indian experience will serve as a model for other developing countries … In the US, the saturation of the social media space by all parties may have a cancelling out effect.”

It is worth noting that Modi’s biggest rival and ousted party leader in the political race for this year’s election, Rahul Gandhi, was continually asked by his advisers years before the 2014 election to use Twitter more for the election, but refused.

India social media image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic