Author and journalist Shaili Chopra explores how numerous political leaders and parties are now connecting with online audience on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter among others to garner support.
"Election 2014 will be the first test of how much impact engagement of political parties and leaders on social media has made. And the social media story is not limited to one election, many lessons will be learnt after the election too," Chopra said after the launch of her book.

In a bid to woo the potential young electorate, many leaders and parties have used social media tools effectively and employed different strategies.
"Parties and leaders have used digital strategies effectively. For instance, BJP's prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi has emerged as a stronger digital story than the BJP," she said.
She also draws the distinction between Modi's digital drive with that by BJP's digital cell. It stood out even more after Modi was announced as the BJP's PM nominee, the author said.
An instance of Modi's effective online campaign was when millions of followers received a personalised Holi message from him on Twitter.
Similarly, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has used social media in an unprecedented way making engagement with the public and donation seeking its primary plan.

Chopra says she believes that the Congress party has done a huge disservice to itself by letting the party's vice-president Rahul Gandhi remain out of bounds from the social media.

The author said, "Although Congress leaders like Shashi Tharoor are active on Twitter but the party has done itself a disservice by letting Rahul Gandhi off the social media."

The idea to draw up an analysis of politics in the age of social media first struck Chopra when she went to a bookstore to pick up a book, which taps trends in social media.

"To my amazement, nobody had put together the election strategy critical from a social media standpoint. It was a fascinating space yet untouched," recalls Chopra.
However, she points out that it would be inaccurate to say that social media engagement alone can win elections, however to say that virtual world presence will not affect election results will be an understatement.
"It is difficult to say if social media will be the only determinant. It is an answer in progress," says the author.

The book details the effective use of social media by politicians and points out the engagement of netizens through ever-rising Internet penetration.
Additionally, the book details instances where the social media has brought accountability in political processes.

"To engage with potential voters, leaders and parties can no longer put across wrong information for they will be mobbed," Chopra said.
Furthermore, in an apparent symbiotic relationship between the mainstream and social media, no issue can remain buried.

Although national parties are ubiquitous on social media spaces, regional parties are "latecomers".

"Before Uttar Pradesh elections, Akhilesh Yadav was active on Twitter but the handle soon became a deadpan and has now gone off the radar," the author said.
She exemplifies how Mamata Banerjee put to use Facebook and Twitter effectively.
In the run up to poll season, when parties are gearing up to garner votes, social media presence would do no harm.


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