Kochi: With Assembly elections round the corner, social media gurus in the state are in great demand. The lengthy campaign period has allowed the political parties to rethink their strategies and the initial waves have surfaced on social media.
As Keralites are active on Facebook, aspiring candidates are keen on promoting themselves on the largest social media platform. The UDF, LDF and BJP are yet to announce the candidates’ list but many probables have got their online campaign team ready.
Though the parties have their own IT cells and social media-related groups, the candidates on individual basis are approaching private parties.
“Politicians are aware of the importance of social media these days. Last year, only a handful of candidates approached us for social media promotion, but this year the number has increased,” said Bobit Thomas of iTruth Solutions, a digital marketing firm. Bobit is currently managing several Facebook pages.
At present, the IT companies are doing the preparatory works for the campaign. These include the food work done by the ruling front and the corruption allegations levelled by the Opposition. Since a huge volume of content and data is needed for websites and Facebook pages, some IT firms are charging hefty rates.
IT companies charge a minimum of Rs 10,000 for creating a website and a Facebook page with minimum content. The amount goes up with the demand of the respective candidates and the customisation needed on the websites.
In the recent local body elections, Kitex-sponsored Twenty20 shelled out a huge amount on Facebook by using ‘sponsored’ posts during their successful campaign for their candidates.
But many online campaigns lack a creative edge as most mechanically post updates on Facebook. The agencies do not even take time to interact with the social media users.
A close scrutiny of the Facebook pages of politicians will show that only a few of them have links with their audience. They include Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, CPM leader Pinarayi Vijayan, Congress leader V.T. Balram, CPM leaders Thomas Issac and M.B. Rajesh. Though Mr Shashi Tharoor is the most followed politician on Twitter he is yet to make an entry in the cyber-sphere of Keralites.
“I consider social media only as an addition of the normal campaign. These days, one cannot shy away saying that I am not tech-savvy. It is not an excuse, they should update themselves and make good use of the social media,” said Thrithala MLA V.T. Balram.