This elections season, two independent government bodies, Election Commission of India and MyGov, have come up with innovative social media campaigns to cater to the young voters. And they are doing it in a way the youth relates to the best — Bollywood and memes. A quick scroll through their Instagram and Twitter accounts gives you an idea to the popularity of these visuals. From using famous dialogues and song references to running quizzes to create awareness among first time voters, they are doing it all.
A representative from the social media team of MyGov, on condition of anonymity, says, “The website is such a youthful platform in itself and the whole idea behind MyGov was to be an interface between citizens and the government. So we speak the language which our citizens understand. These graphics are very peppy and quirky, and do really well on platforms like Instagram. We wanted to do something different which changes the perception of how government communicates. We are planning to run it till May 19, the last phase of voting.” On how the response has been, she says, “The feedback has been positive and people have been surprised in a very pleasant way. They were surprised to find that it is really the official handles of government institutions.”
We speak to the youngsters to understand the impact of these visual aids. Aadita Saxena, 21, who is pursuing her Masters Degree in International Relations from Amity University, says, “It does connect with the voters. By the way of memes, they are connecting with the youth. The younger generation has a sense of idea and responsibility to go out and vote, but this just provides a fun element to it, which they are always looking for.”
Pranati Haldia, a final year student of political science at Lady Shri Ram College, says, “It is important to get the youth out to vote. It is fun and adds on it [the voting process], but I would also expect a little more from them. Ours is a social-media savy generation so a lot of things also end up being just a share or a like. I am skeptical when it comes to these things. The meme is not going to be my only incentive to vote.”
DC Tanisha, 18, a student of psychology at Kamla Nehru College, says, “Bollywood is something everybody connects with and this works in their favour. Something like this gets their attention and gets them involved.”
This is also the first time that such a strategy is being deployed. The reasons are two-pronged — there has been an increase in the count of young voters, and social media is more prevalent than ever. “When it comes to government bodies, we as social media specialists have to be careful that the message follows all the norms and doesn’t favour any particular party. Memes and humour cut across ages and connect people, irrespective of political affiliations. Humour is a very impactful tool and remains in the memory for long. And there has been a significant increase in the young citizen’s voter count, so it is very important to motivate the first time voter to vote,” says, Abu Sufiyan, a social media strategist who has worked with government organisations.
While these tools definitely end up generating a buzz and starting a conversation around exercising the franchise to vote, some fear it might be coloured. “It will be impactful to some extent. On one hand, this kind of propaganda is like dumbing down of the political message, and on the other hand we have a huge population which swayed away by Bollywood. They will connect with the voters. There is more to it than meets the eye. The impact is very far-reaching, because earlier I used to be dismissive of these strategies, but now I tend to take it more seriously,” says Ashok Acharya, professor of political science, University of Delhi.
Interact with Etti Bali @TheBalinian
May 01, 2019 12:15 IST
Have something to say? Leave a comment: