Social media has been at the center for every controversy in today’s time with people terming it as a boon or a bane depending on the situation. Social media statistics from 2019 show that there are 3.2 billion social media users worldwide, which forms an approximate 42% of our current population. This taps an opportunistic market for advertising and influencing. People spend an average of two hours and twenty-two minutes per day on social media, according to reports. This opinionated platform is bound to influence some unaware and gullible people. With millennials using this platform as the go-to, it has become a need to advertise rather than a want.
Social Media particularly has become a very hot topic in elections nowadays. Research indicates that 68% of social media users are actively associated with political propaganda. Big wins in the elections have solely been credited to social media marketing. It goes a long way in influencing and changing people’s opinions with its wide variety of content. More importantly, traditional ways of sharing data have become outdated, giving a huge boost to social media. It also taps a diversified and wide population, successful in keeping people aware of the various political news. With the advent of the internet age, it has gradually blossomed as the main place for the effective allocation of funds for every political campaign.
Let’s take a glance at the political situation in India. According to an article in The Economic Time, BJP and its affiliates spent Rs 2.37 crore in February 2019 on Facebook ads. Regional parties spent about Rs 19.8 lakh, while Congress and its affiliates spent around Rs 10.6 lakh, for the Lok Sabha Elections of 2019. This report clearly indicates the potential of social media and its reach in the long run. CSDS-Lokniti along with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung published a report on whether social media influenced Lok Sabha Election 2019 or not. The report has analyzed five social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and YouTube and reached to a conclusion that—yes, social media did influence Lok Sabha Elections of 2019 in India. The Columbia Journalism Review deemed the 2019 Lok Sabha polls ‘India’s WhatsApp election’. Hundreds of thousands of WhatsApp groups have known to have facilitated the marginal win of BJP.
While that was an enlightening overview of a developing country, let’s look at one of the most developed countries in the world, US. The 2008 US presidential elections were the first election to fully realize and grasp the power of social media marketing. Barack Obama campaign mined this opportunity to declare a win and thus started the new social era. Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton and their campaigns spent a combined $81 million on ads in the 2016 US presidential elections, according to Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch. According to research from Ipsos Mori, social media also has the potential to have more of an impact for 18 to 24-year olds, targeting huge groups pf youths which can successfully change the outcome of any election. As per The Guardian, Donald Trump has already spent more than $11.1m on Facebook and Google ads alone in the first six months of 2019 for the upcoming 2020 presidential elections. The 2020 elections are bound to see the neck-to-neck competition on the social media platform.
While looking at the two case studies of India and America, we can safely conclude that whoever has the edge in social media marketing will stand to win big in elections. With cheap internet services at the helm of each and every individual, social media has become the new ‘IT’ and social media marketing has become the new game-changer. And whoever taps that potential minefield of opportunities, is going to make it to the top.