In continuation of the series, “Building a Political Digital Campaign team in India“, this post focuses on where to publish and promote your content. Also, I throw some light on the usage of Indian language content in a campaign.
In an election, every vote matters. The basic assumptions most politicians / political parties make are,
- There is a section of voters who are loyal to a party. You cannot get them to swing to the other side.
- There are fence sitters who are not hardcore loyalists of a party/politician.
The election campaign is to get the attention and vote, well let us say “just the vote” of those in category #2. Period.
The content strategy in a War Room was largely focused on English (South India) and Hindi (North India).
By 2021, Google predicts there would be 536 million Indian-language speakers online in India, as compared to 199 million English speakers. In elections, one cares about what has to be done now to win. For the various state assembly elections to be held in 2018 and General Elections 2019, Indic will be a big part of all digital campaigns. Indic is just not Hindi, other Indian languages must be part of the strategy.
The party cannot completely ignore offline campaign. It is here to stay. The digital campaign helps to keep reminding the message to the voter.
There are two aspects to Indian language content in an election campaign,
- Publishing your content – short form, long form
- Digital marketing to push your message
Publishing Content in an Election Campaign
Voters like to know what is the opinion of their leader on various topics. It can be in the form of tweets, FB posts, opinion articles, videos.
You should definitely consider writing articles in online and offline media. Yes, I am aware many have ghostwriters. That’s perfectly fine.
A mere translation to every language may not get you the desired result. The DNA, asks of each region of India, within a state varies. Keeping that in mind you could tailor your article to address each set of audience.
Also, the style of writing should be tailored to each platform. The same content rarely works in different mediums.
Publishing the content on all platforms may not get you the viewership, forget about engagement. For e.g., if a social media platform largely focuses on jokes and cheap videos, I don’t think it is the right platform to publish your message. Users may see your message but are not serious about you have to say. The DNA of the platform has to be news-oriented to publish your content.
There are many articles which explain what style of content works. You should use that as a starting point and learn to fine tune your strategy on your own, this is true especially for content in Indian languages.
Twitter & Facebook For Political Postings
Twitter and Facebook have many users interested in news related topics. It would be useful to publish content in multiple languages on these platforms, i.e. the same message must be published in English, Hindi and regional languages. And preferably as separate postings.
I have seen few politicians publishing in one regional language only, in a cosmopolitan city like Bengaluru, they need to reach out to voters who speak all Indian languages.
During elections, the interaction between rival parties/politicians on Twitter has degraded lately. The language tends to deteriorate and vulgar at times. Luckily not too many are on Twitter.
Instagram has taken off well for popular politicians but I don’t see that platform being conversation friendly.
ShareChat For Political Postings
The latest entry into this game has been ShareChat. It certainly has attracted the attention of the political fraternity because ShareChat has over 25 million Indian language users who publish and consume content. However, I believe it is “not yet” a platform ready for serious discussions. It is not “election ready” because the nature of conversations is not serious, it is for entertainment (and nothing wrong with that).
Voice, Something New to Try Out
Another platform which has been quietly building the product and not making any noise is Vokal. It is early days yet for Vokal but I do see serious conversations. One of the differentiators of Vokal is voice, you can post, comment with voice instead of typing text.
Where to advertise your campaign in Indian languages?
Your message has to be distributed on the correct platform on a large scale, I repeat, the scale is important.
- News/content websites & apps
- News/content aggregators
- Social Media
- Email Marketing
The existing digital campaign teams are well versed with promoting their message in all of the above mediums. But have they closely looked into Indian languages? Maybe not in the past but now Indian languages (Indic) is finally getting its due importance.
Print advertising is very expensive and it cannot be targetted, unlike digital advertising. Yet print continues to win.
In any digital product, this kind of behaviour would lead to an exodus of users. But Indian newspapers k̶n̶o̶w̶ think that readers don't have a choice. pic.twitter.com/AtQiGZ6HZb
— Rohin Dharmakumar (@r0h1n) October 10, 2018
The voter turnout in non-urban areas has been usually higher than urban areas. There was a gap of 15 percentage points between the highest rural and urban voter turnout rates in 2014. Urbanities prefer to complain and not vote (a mere 51% in Bengaluru in 2018). With internet penetration being impressive in rural areas it is imperative to reach these users digitally. And a majority of rural areas prefer to consume content in their mother tongue, not English. So where should you advertise to reach the Indian language online users?
When it comes to media sites, every regional newspaper is online. You could advertise on those local newspaper websites.
Digital only publishers such as Oneindia.com (disclosure, I am associated with it), offers you to reach users of all major Indian languages who have various interests, not just news (such as entertainment, technology, lifestyle, travel, personal finance).
News aggregators have become popular as many users prefer to read content from various publishers under one roof. There are several aggregators in India, many have come and gone. The one standing tall is DailyHunt (disclosure, I am associated with it), their traffic numbers speak for itself. For the general elections 2019, DailyHunt will be reaching out to 50% of the first-time & 30% of the second-time voter base in India. Can you really afford to ignore them?
Lately, teams have moved from SMS marketing to WhatsApp marketing. Though I didn’t see much of Whatsapp marketing during Karnataka assembly elections 2018. Given the high penetration of WhatsApp & the high consumption of Indian language content, WhatsApp is an obvious choice for most election campaign teams.
At the time of writing this post, Twitter’s monthly active users in India was at 30-33 million versus Facebook’s 270 million.
Twitter marketing is very expensive when compared with other platforms, no wonder they are struggling in India. However, Twitter has the users which matter – journalists, election news loyalists. But again, it is expensive to advertise on Twitter and the usage of Indic on Twitter is not very high.
Other posts in this series are,
- Background of a Content Team Member
- How to Get Facts & Figures For An Election Digital Campaign
- Books, Blogs, Courses To Prepare For An Election Digital Campaign
- Elections Market Survey & Digital Campaign Providers in India