Political Parties Now Focus On Big Data With Free Tools To Influence Voters

Indian political parties are moving beyond just having a presence on Facebook, Twitter to using Big Data to influence voters ahead of lok sabha elections 2014

Indian General Elections 2014

While India will witness the Lok Sabha elections in April, political parties are trying to grab every piece of technology they can to understand and influence the voters. From opening accounts and engaging on Facebook, to creating trending wars on Twitter, the political parties are now testing the power of big data and messaging apps.

According to a latest story in Livemint, parties are now trying to analyze data, monitor conversations, gain insights and act upon them. Today political parties such as the Congress, the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are not only educating social media nuances to the candidate but also imparting the knowledge of social listening, online reputation management and analysis tools to identify and nurture social media influencers.

Citing an example on how BJP is using big data, the story at Livemint shares:

When the Indian Navy submarine INS Sindhuratna caught fire off Mumbai on 26 February, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) found heightened activity on social networks, but analysed that this was restricted to the metros and cities such as Pune, Chandigarh and Dehradun that house a large population of ex-servicemen.

This information was one of the inputs the party’s media cell used to decide what its response should be, who should deliver it, and who should appear on behalf of the party on TV debates, claims the BJP information technology (IT) cell’s national co-convenor Vinit Goenka.

Apart from Big Data, political parties are using tools such as Social Customer Relationship Management (Social CRM), Klout to identify “influential voters” and engage with them.

Messaging app WhatsApp, which has more than 40 million active users from the country, is being used by parties too. Recently we had shared how local cadres are using the messaging app to connect with the local voters in their constituency.

While the political parties have not disclosed names with whom they are working to gain knowledge from these tools but these parties prefer using open-source software frameworks such as Hadoop for storage and large-scale processing of data.

Even though the major parties like Congress and BJP are pumping huge budgets on marketing but digital and social still is very nascent. One of the reason being TV still dominates and penetration of internet, average broadband speed in the country still pathetic.

Majority of political parties have taken a leaf from US President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign that took recourse to analytics to garner votes but spends on these mediums alone were around $1 billion.

US and India have two different geographies and politics. We have reached to a level where majority of parties have finally acknowledged the power of the social and digital medium but we have barely scratched the surface. Only 13% of the country accessing internet makes it challenging but with the rampant mobile proliferation in the country, elections post 2014 will make a difference.