As we are closing to 2019 political parties have started all the possible gimmicks to attract popularity and to strengthen their candidature for the run to win the throne of India. Youth and social media have been the areas of concentration for all the major political parties in the recent times. Social media presence and activity on such platforms have garnered a lot of attention in the recent past, and at times have landed political parties in a bit of trouble as well.
— Gurman Bhatia (@GurmanBhatia) October 18, 2017
This is a narrative on one such political game plan gone wrong. Recently, the Actress turned politician Ramya aka Divya Spandana who heads the Social media and Digital communications cell of the AICC tweeted about the official twitter handle of the party vice-president Rahul Gandhi getting more tweets and reach than that of The twitter handle of Prime minister Narendra Modi. This was attributed to the increasing popularity of Rahul Gandhi and the anti-incumbency wave in India by Ramya. Journalist Mihir S Sharma also wrote about Rahul Gandhi’s “Twitter” success in his blog at NDTV.
However here are a few shocking revelations associated with this “Twitter popularity.”
• Fake twitter handles: Any authentic twitter user first tweets, follows others and has followers. We busted a few of the fake accounts used in this campaign! It was very simple. These accounts don’t have a “Personified” username, a profile picture or followers.
• Follow selected Twitter Handles: These Twitter handles follow Rahul Gandhi’s office, Divya Spandana, INC and prominent leaders of the Congress party.
• Tweets from the Kazakhstan, Russia: When we dig deeper and look closely into this trend it becomes more evident that this campaign is more of a paid Twitter campaign than “sudden outbursting popularity.
• Retweets only: The above-mentioned trend has a similar trend. These accounts won’t tweet on their own, they don’t even retweet any other tweets. They retweet only @OfficeOfRg and INC tweets.
• Retweets from protected accounts: Most of the accounts which are RTing Rahul Gandhi’s tweets are protected accounts. We cannot access the details from these accounts unless they approve our follow request. These accounts have maximum 1-5 followers.
These aspects have proven beyond any doubts that this was indeed a well-planned and paid twitter campaign. The profile building was almost perfect, but the choice of accounts to help build that profile was bad.
Using Social Media paid marketing for reach is not an unusual thing. Every political party indulges in such activities. But how fair it is to claim that it is a political success? And if Rahul Gandhi was actually popular what was the need to go for a paid promotion and campaign to say that he is popular?