Political parties hook voters, map dissent with Big Data

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.
Taking a leaf from US President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign that took recourse to analytics to garner votes, Indian political parties are moving beyond just having a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google Hangouts or YouTube to using Big Data (read: analysing large amounts of data to cull insight) to influence voters ahead of the general elections scheduled for April and May.

Besides holding workshops to educate candidates about social media practices, parties such as the Congress, the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are employing sophisticated social listening, reputation management and analysis tools to identify and nurture social media influencers—like those Twitter users who have specific party leanings and thousands of followers.

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