How Social Data Is Boosting Indian Television And Other Traditional Mediums For The 2014 Lok Sabha Elections

The article looks at how television channels like HT, Times Now, CNBC-TV18 have integrated social data for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to bring the common man's point of view during election shows.

social media delhi elections

Media plays a significant role in every election in the country. The story has been the same for the 16th Lok Sabha elections which is at its last phase in the country. Television has played a significant role along with other traditional mediums and will continue to play with the counting due from the 16th of this month. But this year along with the age old controversies, something new is being witnessed.

The role played by the new medium – social media.

Social media today is being driven by the youth of India and political parties cannot miss them. According to the Election Commission, around 2.3 crore 18-19 year olds have been enrolled to vote in 2014, out of a total electorate of 81.5 crore voters. For the first time the country is going to experience the youth playing a role in molding the nation’s future.

Today’s youth is spending considerable time on the internet connecting either on Facebook or WhatsApp. This behavior has forced political parties to adopt ways that suit the mood of today’s generation.

Every other political party regional or nationalistic is keeping itself active on social media, spending on the social and digital advertising and fighting its rivals on the medium too. GroupM’s advertising expenditure report – ‘This Year, Next Year’ (TYNY) 2014 stated that overall advertising growth will stand at 11.6 percent this year, against 10 percent last year. The growth in ad spends this year has been attributed to the forthcoming 16th Lok Sabha elections in the country. According to a story from PTI, the digital spending pie which is estimated to be Rs.500 crore has Google, Facebook and Twitter eying for it.

Livemint had reported a similar story stating that with the country all set to witness the most expensive elections ever with a budget of Rs. 30,000 crore, social networking giants are expecting a boost in their revenues from India.

This election, for the first time, is also witnessing social data being married to traditional mediums whether it is the television, newspaper or the online media sites from leading publishers in the country. This year election debates are no more being discussed only in television studios with experts but the common man is also being made a part of it by sharing their views on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Similarly data is being powered by social trackers or products to bring out the live sentiment on what people are thinking over social media.

Having realized the growing wave during the ongoing elections, social networking giants have used their platform to bring the election candidates and voters closer. Besides, television channels and other mediums are also integrating social data and the approach has been noteworthy.

Social data integrates with television

These elections have seen Twitter become a platform for conversation and controversy, hence media channels are trying to leverage these qualities for the ongoing elections. India Today Group’s Twitter debate show #YourVote2014 on “Headlines Today” is a brilliant example.

The show gave Twitter users in India a first-of-its-kind chance to participate and determine the outcome of a live debate using tweets, writes Twitter India on its blog.

Talking about the show driven by social data from Twitter, Aroon Purie, Editor-in-Chief at India Today Group had stated: “We wanted a show that would do two things: one, thrown open the national debate beyond the walls of Delhi’s television studios. Two, enable genuine two-way conversation and feedback between India’s leaders and its citizens with cutting-edge technology. #YourVote2014 was a direct result of these conversations.”

While the show was going on, Frrole, a Bangalore based social intelligence startup tracked the hashtag and performed sentiment analysis for each guest named in the tweets. Frrole then use to send sentiment scores for each guest in real time, which HT displayed periodically on the screen.

The show embraced many Twitter best practices, which brought it closer in providing an  immersive second-screen experience to viewers.

Upon the show’s conclusion, ‘Election Express’ the talking bus was launched on Twitter. The bus travelled the length and breath of the country during the campaigning season and brought all live updates for TV as well as Twitter. With the campaigning season getting over the ride has come to an end but it has been an interesting effort from the channel.

As we know Twitter is where the online conversations are happening and TV wants to raise its TRPs with this social data. India’s leading business news channel, CNBC-TV18 wants to do the same and has tied up with software giant Tata Consultancy Services for its newly launched app, iElect, which helps users gain social insights into the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.

CNBC-TV18 is using the analysis and the data from the app in its election related programming, to bring to its viewers insights from Twitter on what’s being talking about, who’s making news and other interesting data nuggets. The iElect app (review) was launched recently by TCS in association with Twitter India in an effort to tap real time Twitter insights and sentiments on politicians and their political parties.

Interestingly Network18 has integrated Microsoft election analytics on its various properties. Parliament Elections with Bing is a part of the CNN-IBN – Microsoft Election Analytics Centre which has been created to power Network18’s television and online platforms with election data and analyses.

This enables CNN-IBN and IBN7 viewers to find, search and engage with election data through an ‘Indian Election’ app, and online platforms such as IBNLive.com, Firstpost.com, and others.

Times Now, another popular news channel, has also entered into a tie up with Twitter for a unique arrangement for the elections, wherein the real time sentiments of the citizens and voters will be analysed and trends will be monitored from tweets and Twitter feeds.

Brizz TV, the startup from Bangalore is curating the live tweets during election related programs for Times Now. For instance the recent Narendra Modi interview given to Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief of Times Now has claimed that the hashtag #ModiSpeaksToArnab was the No 1. Twitter trend nationally and globally. According to the channel, the interview recorded over 17 crore potential Twitter impressions.

Social data integrates with other traditional mediums

Apart from television, other mediums such as newspaper or the online media sites from leading publishers in the country have also integrated social data wherever possible.

Times Of India, the leading media site started with an initiative with #DanceofDemocracy which asked citizens to step out and vote. Users on Twitter were asked to tweet to @timesofindia with their city’s name to get their polling related information.

Simultaneously with the help of Frrole and Twitter, TOI developed a Social News Hub. The real time data was beautifully presented with dynamic visualizations, sorted by day or week.

The Economic Times also tied up with Bangalore-based Simplify360 to offer election related Twitter trends and visualizations like trending topics, most talked political parties and politician rankings among other things. Similarly, IBNLive also tied-up with the social and digital services provider TO THE NEW to launch a real-time social tracker called Social Tracker 2014.  The tracker monitored key political personalities and political parties on social media along with the sentiment analysis.

16th May, 2014 will decide the winner of 16th Lok Sabha elections in the country. Apart from that in a country where the internet penetration is less than 13%, the influence and penetration of social media during this election is commendable. Social data has powered other mediums marking the beginning for many such elections to come in the future.