Sources across the political spectrum told ET that parties may step up social media campaigns as compared to the recent assembly polls in Karnataka. While leaders may collaborate with influencers, the latter are not strictly on the party payrolls, they added.
“Whoever posts content in our favour is doing it voluntarily, we are not paying them,” sources in the BJP said. The saffron party said its social media handles would be used to promote all the development works the BJP did while in power and “amplify awareness.”
Congress party sources said party leaders’ social media handles were still the best medium to influence and take messages to the last mile amongst voters. “YouTubers show another side of political leaders with their unique interviews. It is, however, difficult to quantify its impact in terms of votes exactly,” they said. The Congress, which has come together with Opposition parties across the country to form the INDIA alliance for the Lok Sabha polls, will pool together its social media resources with the other members to come up with the best strategy, they added.
Sources in the Janata Dal Secular (JDS) told ET that while the Lok Sabha campaign was still in the planning stages, state leaders may consider interviewing with popular YouTubers and influencers to connect with younger voters.
The Congress, the JDS and the BJP spent around Rs 2.6 crore combined on Facebook and Instagram ads in 90 days before the assembly polls, according to Meta’s ad library report. Parties had spent slightly more on google ads from January till May. The BJP spent Rs 7.1 crore on 3,949 advertisements, while the Congress spent Rs 4.7 crores on 41 ads, according to Google’s transparency report. While using influencers is not a new phenomenon, there has been an unprecedented rise in high-profile politicians choosing to interview with famous YouTubers. AICC leader Rahul Gandhi interviewed with YouTuber Kamiya Jani on her channel Curly Tales with 25.1 lakh subscribers this January. Ranveer Allahabadia, who runs the channel BeerBiceps with 59.6 lakh subscribers, has interviewed several leaders like Commerce minister Piyush Goyal, External Affairs minister S Jaishankar and Minister of state for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrashekhar.In June this year, the Congress regime in Rajasthan created a payscale from Rs 10,000 to Rs 500,000 per month to pay influencers to promote government ads on their pages, based on their follower count. The Ashok Gehlot-led state goes to polls at the end of this year.
This May, the BJP held a meetup of 500 influencers in Mumbai to commemorate Prime Minister Narendra Modi completing nine years in office.
While national leaders are courting follower counts, Karnataka politicians are yet to jump on the influencer bandwagon in a major way. However, with Lok Sabha and Bengaluru civic body polls looming on the horizon, experts believe social media may be a significant asset in turning fence votes to either side, especially among young voters.