How is Modi Government using Facebook?

Modi Government's Facebook Strategy

Modi Government's Facebook Strategy

The power of Facebook as a highly effective medium to connect with the masses has been amply demonstrated by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the last two years since taking office. He was one of the early politicians to recognize the power of social media for connecting instantly with people. He has been using both Twitter and Facebook to very good effect and what’s pleasing to note is that his ministers have taken cue from him and have been actively using social media, especially Facebook, to inform, educate and create general awareness of various programmes and initiatives of the government. Facebook has several features and tools that can be effectively used for a variety of ‘engaging’ content and people interaction. Tools like ‘Live’ and ‘Q&A’ offer instant connect with masses and based on feedback received, these can then be used to make ‘informed’ opinion, decision or action by the government. To spread awareness of government initiatives, tools like ‘Instant Articles and Notes’ can be effectively leveraged. And, going by figures released by Facebook, it seems to be having its targeted impact in India.

Response on PM Modi’s Post

Take a look at the response received by the PM’s post on his mother’s first visit to his official residence, 7 Race Course Road. PM Modi uploaded a picture of him taking his mother around the garden and captioned the picture “My mother returns from Gujarat. Spent quality time with her after a long time & that too on her visit to RCR”. The post received an overwhelming 34,047,024 likes. Another post with reference to his meeting with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg thanking him for his support to the ‘Digital India’ initiative, received 34,047,070 likes. But that’s not all. In the run up to almost all elections, the central government, and especially BJP, has been very active in creating engaging content to establish a ‘personal’ connect with the masses. Success of these initiatives can be gauged by the number of responses in the form of ‘comments’ or ‘likes’ received. The best part is, ‘negative’ feedback can also be turned into an opportunity by correcting a decision, a statement, or even issuing a timely regret, if need arises, only to gain more acceptance from followers.

Modi’s Popularity on Social Media

PM Modi can take credit for leading the way in adopting and adapting technology to his personal and his government’s advantage. Today, Narendra Modi stands second only to President Obama in popularity on social media, and ahead of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Modi’s Ministers Warming up to the idea of Social Media

While he has taken the lead in leveraging social media, he has ensured that his team at the PMO, too, is actively using Facebook and Twitter. He has been exhorting his ministers to increase their social media presence and interaction, with the PMO closely involved in monitoring which ministers are active and which are not. The PMO has taken upon itself to educate and encourage all ministers to use social media to the fullest. In fact, it even arranged for a workshop at the India Habitat Centre, which was followed up with another one earlier this month. PMO has compiled its own list of ministers who have been most active on social media between January and March this year and shared this data with all ministers. The purpose was to recognize those who were most active and encourage those who were laggards in using Facebook and Twitter to connect with people. ‘MyGov’ is the platform through which the government is connecting with people and has been actively used for creating awareness of government’s several initiatives and also to collect feedback from the people. Its success is best seen when it directly connected with over 1.5 lakh village panchayats and took their feedback before drafting the New Education Policy. An exercise of this scale undertaken in real time was a first and has encouraged the government to increase usage of this medium for other similar initiatives. The PMO has since been pushing its ministers to increase their social media interaction in connecting with people for their respective ministries.

Ministers Most Active on Facebook

In fact, Facebook analytics, too, has compiled a list of 10 most active ministers in the NDA government, based on the number of posts, their size, likes received, comments shared, etc. The list is headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, closely followed by the HRD Minister Smriti Irani and FM Arun Jaitley. But the surprise is in finding Minister for Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s name among the leaders, ahead of the likes of Piyush Goyal and Ravi Shankar Prasad. Ministries, too, have shed their reticence and are now actively uploading announcements, developments, actions and events, on a daily basis, and the list is headed by the Ministry of External Affairs which has been most active. As per Facebook, MEA has recorded a total of 5,706,891 interactions and is followed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Increasing Response from Public

People are increasingly following and responding to what ministers are saying and they are quick to reject or endorse such statements. Take the case of Minister of Fertilizers Ananth Kumar, when he extended his support to ‘Digital India’. While all he did was endorse it, he received 581,727 likes! This only confirms the presence and acceptability of social media as a powerful tool to connect and one that is being fully adopted by the existing government. PM Modi and BJP were the first off the blocks in effectively using social media for electoral gains in 2014 General Elections. Almost all political parties have since woken up to its potential but none have come close to emulating Narendra Modi and his party. India is on the cusp of rapid development and social media is set to play an important role in that process. Let’s wait and watch how innovative the government can be in coming time, beyond what it has already achieved.


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