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Inside Indian Ruling Party’s Social Media Strategy To Curry Favor With Gen Z Voters


Inside Indian Ruling Party’s Social Media Strategy To Curry Favor With Gen Z Voters 

As India’s multi-phase national election begins on April 19, political parties will target the nation’s massive young voter base through creative social media campaigns. With 18 million first-time voters and 197 million citizens aged 20-29, capturing the attention and enthusiasm of Gen Z could provide a decisive advantage, Bloomberg reports.

India has over 700 million internet users who consume content voraciously, thanks to some of the world’s lowest data rates. According to Bloomberg, political parties are blitzing these young, tech-savvy voters with emotive video ads, memes, and music videos on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and X.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been an early adopter of these new media tactics. Professor Amit Dholakia of Maharaja Sayajirao University said the BJP began using social media “systematically and scientifically” in 2014 when Modi first won the premiership.

The strategy allows leaders like Modi to connect directly with citizens through “one-on-one” engagement without intermediaries like the traditional media. It mirrors tactics deployed successfully by other global figures, such as former U.S. President Donald Trump.

This cycle, the deep-pocketed BJP is doubling down. A recent Google Ads Transparency report shows the party has spent $434 million on digital ads since January 1, dwarfing the $35.1 million it spent over the same period in 2019.

One recent BJP video ad depicts an anxious couple awaiting their daughter’s arrival from Ukraine, highlighting the widespread belief that Modi personally intervened to evacuate Indian students during Russia’s invasion. The clip ends with Modi proclaiming, “My India, my family.”

BJP supporters have also embraced user-generated content like songs and memes to amplify the party’s messaging organically. Singer Kavi Singh has released over 100 bhajans (hymns) praising Modi, with lyrics like “the son of the soil Narendra Modi, does not turn away from his promises.”

On X, the official BJP account posted a meme depicting Modi as The Terminator: “2024! I’ll be back!”

According to Bloomberg, opposition parties are working to counter the BJP’s dominance of the airwaves. The Indian National Congress has run video ads highlighting voter concerns like unemployment and inflation. Regional parties have trolled Modi with memes mocking his track record.

While the BJP’s resource advantage is formidable, the omnipresence of handheld screens provides opportunities for viral disruption. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has done long-form interviews with influencers who are popular with younger audiences.

As Professor Dholakia notes, social media’s ability to eliminate intermediaries gives all sides potent new channels to reach voters directly with less manpower than traditional door-to-door campaigning requires.

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David Adler is an entrepreneur and freelance blog post writer who enjoys writing about business, entrepreneurship, travel and the influencer marketing space.

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