Narendra Modi and India’s social media dividend

As world leaders (or even State leaders) go, Narendra Modi perhaps has the distinction of being an ‘early adopter’.

Social media, in terms of general acceptability as well in terms of the impact it has on things ranging from politics to entertainment to matters of policy, has had an fascinating journey in India. In the beginning, when blogging was just coming to the fore as a significant online trend during the Bush vs Gore Presidential battle, there was little mention of it in India’s mainstream media, probably because nobody saw Internet penetration in India becoming anything worth talking about any time in the near future.

That was more than a decade ago. Since 2000, the entire blogging revolution has not only come and gone, the much bigger (and more influential) social media revolution – powered for the most part by Twitter and Facebook – has come and stayed. This revolution has gone from being a surprise to the mainstream media to being an integral part of the mainstream very quickly. No small part of the BJP’s victory in the 2014 general election was its efforts on social media. No other factor defines the disconnect between a future-focused BJP and a stuck Congress more singularly than the way the two parties handled social media.

The result: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the fourth most followed world leader on Twitter with 5 million followers, and has 18.8 million Likes on Facebook. Needless to say, these numbers indicate only a beginning point, as influence on social networks is usually amplified several hundred (or even thousand) times by way of shares, retweets and mentions.


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