The Congress is gearing up to further augment its digital battle for the Lok Sabha elections in the coming days and has plans to disseminate customised content of its manifesto to various target groups.
The party views social media as a critical communication asset in its battle to oust the BJP-led government from office and is coming out with catchy videos to get its message across.
The party has lagged behind the BJP in finalising its election slogans for the Lok Sabha elections but has plans to maximise the social media impact in the coming days by employing advertising companies.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who has been targeting the government through pithy, sarcastic tweets, has also been giving an inkling to the party’s manifesto on social media by sharing information about the promise of minimum income guarantee, farm loan waiver and steps to boost entrepreneurship and start-ups.
Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha said that Gandhi’s “sharp, witty, humorous and fact-based questioning of the BJP has become hugely popular and has created a new benchmark in social media political discourse”.
“Our catchy videos are becoming a rage and going viral, which has augmented our political narrative. We believe social media will be the most critical communication asset for the Congress party. Besides Twitter, which is the default option for political messaging, we are seeing a huge traction in WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube and the fast rise of Instagram,” Jha told IANS.
A party leader, who did not want to be named, said that social media is very useful at a time when sections of traditional media were not giving the party its due space.
“The message reaches the audience directly and quickly through social media and there is traction,” he said.
He said that the party is not only reaching out to the youth through social media but also to other sections of society.
Jha said it was the young demographic dividend that was the biggest consumer of social media earlier but now it covers a wider population across various age groups, geographic dispersal and income levels.
“This is a positive development. The BJP is in panic mode hence the brazen attempt to use public assets like railways and airlines to push political agenda. PM Modi’s over-exposure in mainstream media has boomeranged. It is giving them diminishing returns,” he said.
Congress is expected to release its manifesto on April 2 and the party will make a big reach out through the social media.
“We shall disseminate its content customized to various target groups. That’s where specific bespoke approach works on social media,” Jha said.
He said Congress is also crowdsourcing ideas.
“For instance, on Nyay (nyuntam aay yojana), we have asked for submissions of both slogan and a logo design,” he said.
Nyay is among the biggest poll promises of the Congress and income guarantee scheme that promises every family in the poorest 20 per cent segment income support of Rs 6,000 a month.
The Congress has also zeroed in on companies that will take forward its digital outreach. Sources said the companies finalised include DesignBoard and SilverPush. It has also hired companies for media advertising.
No party leader was willing to comment on the money involved in party’s social media spend in the Lok Sabha elections.
The party has launched ‘Shut The Fake Up’ campaign as part of its social media tactics to attract and involve young Instagram users.
A party functionary said it is an initiative to “call out BJP regime and fake news propaganda of the last five years”.
The party has also been following an aggressive communication strategy and quickly responds to issues concerning the government or allegations made by BJP leaders through statements, press conferences and tweets. Party leaders are also quick to target the government over a range of issues, including unemployment, jobs, alleged corruption, farm distress, demonetisation, flawed implementation of GST, “targeting” of opponents and “fudging of data.”