Challenges in poll campaigning through digital media


Assembly elections are on the cards in five states (Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand) and the campaigning season is in full swing. Meanwhile, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has added to the troubles of the political candidates by suspending election rallies and street or corner meetings due to the growing fear of Covid pandemic, as the cases of Omicron variant affected people are on the surge. Although this ban on election rallies and corner meetings is only till January 15, after reviewing the situation of the Covid cases, if necessary, this restriction can be extended for a longer period. Political parties have their own social media war rooms where hundreds of trained and professional youths campaign furiously on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. So far it is fine, but the individual candidates have been facing several practical difficulties in this matter. There are many leaders who neither know how to use social media themselves nor have any knowledge of digital mediums. As such, they are completely dependent on others, while in rallies and speeches they might roar like a lion and amaze. Apart from this, the situation is the same among the voters as well.
Most of the aged population is not aware of social media or digital means, nor do they prefer it. It is a big problem for political leaders and candidates to woo or reach out to such voters. There is another problem in hilly areas like in Uttarakhand -there are many areas where mobile signals do not reach. Apart from this, there are many people who do not have Android phones, so how to reach them is a big challenge in front of the candidates. No doubt about it that the youth can be influenced to a great extent by digital election campaigning, but it is difficult to convince the older and illiterate population. For them, it is only possible by giving a public speech or meeting them face-to-face in a social gathering. Some leaders say that digital campaigns in rural areas and in small towns are proving to be a big challenge following the restrictions.
Social media influencers are of great use for promoting any person, product or brand through digital means. In today's time, many influencers have become so powerful that even film personalities or celebrity stars prove to be secondary in front of them. Companies also love to associate with micro-influencers having less followers to propel their brands, because they have immense impact on the masses in their niche areas and people trust them. Their followers do what these influencers say. According to the Influencer Marketing Factory, there are about 50 million online creators in the world. Children, teenagers and youth are present in large numbers in online creators. In the year 2021, the value of the creator market was more than 7.44 lakh crores. This army of creators has come into existence especially in the last ten years. Twitch started in the year 2021, when the foundation of the creator economy was laid. Platforms such as Fans Only, Twitch, Patreon and Substake offer creators the opportunity to earn from the subscription model, while also charging commissions ranging from 10 to 50 percent of their earnings.
(The writer is a senior journalist and columnist. Twitter @NarvijayYadav)

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