Home >Opinion >Columns >Digital Content Platforms and the Indian Elections 2019

Elections in India are a grand affair. And with today’s digital India, they have gone to a different level. We all know about the extent of smartphone penetration in India. It is estimated that this year, we have more than 1.1 billion smartphone users. Moreover, during election season, content is in high demand. This year’s Lok Sabha elections will see 900 million voters exercise their fundamental right and decide which political party will form the government. There is a need to address this vast electorate across different geographies and cultures. During the last elections, almost 300 million voters did not cast their vote. This time, the aim is to not only encourage those who did not vote last time but also draw in first-time voters. Political parties will need to develop new communication strategies for a modern digital India. Also, the more information that the electorate wants and the party shares, the more opportunities for digital platforms to meet this need and increase their customer base.

Breaking news today

Most media organisations today have launched their apps, social media pages and YouTube channels. Youngsters prefer personalised content feeds created as per their content consumption pattern. The immediacy of the engagement leads to posts going viral. Added to that, the anonymous nature of the engagement has played an important role in making social media a large albeit controversial medium. It is something the major political parties have capitalised on. A fair share of their resources has been spent on social media and Bollywood-style music videos. The primary target audience is those who will be voting for the first time. Multiple types/formats of content are being used to reach users. Interactive content, such as graphics, videos, articles, infographics and polls are among popular content formats. Users also prefer content that is in their native language. These platforms are fast reaching Tier 2, 3 and 4 cities and towns and offering hyper-local news and updates from various verified news sources. They employ deep-level targeting that includes variables like gender, location (zip code-level targeting), language and interest groups. By using vernacular content, platforms can reach out to a wider audience.

Role of authenticity in a digital world

It would not be inaccurate to say that the battle for 2019 is being fought on smartphones; hence, the role of aggregator platforms becomes all the more crucial. However, as these news platforms share news, they have an additional responsibility of separating real news from fake news. In the lead up to the elections, there have been many reports of social conflict due to rumours, which have made tensions run high.

New digital platforms need to be careful in selecting their content partners and should vet them. Video is a popular format and needs to be included in the narrative to make the stories stronger and more authentic. As content providers, we need to ensure that the electorate is given access to every detail of every party standing for the elections and what their agenda is. The information should be sourced from trusted, unbiased and reliable sources of content during the election season. We can also design the content based on live interactivity, online and offline sharing, original news content across formats via stringers and artificial intelligence-powered personalisation. It will help the user get a balanced perspective. And as the Dailyhunt campaign would say it…Iss Election season…Kiska tota mat bano.

In doing all this, you can crack the formula on not only covering the elections well but also creating a long-term relationship with the end user.

Umang Bedi is President, Dailyhunt

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