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In connected Kerala, social media can sway results in half the seats: report

VINSON KURIAN THIRUVANANTHAPURAM | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on May 18, 2016

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:KERALA- 16/ 05/ 2016:: Women voters quee up at the poling booth at Karumom UPS in Nemom constituncy in the city......Photo: S. Gopakumar

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The 71 ‘high-impact’ constituencies could determine the eventual winner in the State

Social media users in Kerala are likely to influence the results of at least 71 ‘high-impact’ Assembly constituencies of the 140 that went to polls on Monday, a report of the Internet & Mobile Association of India has revealed.

There are four ‘medium-impact’ and 65 ‘low-impact’ constituencies. The remainder, classified as ‘high-impact’, could determine the eventual winner in the State, said the report titled Social Media Impact on the Kerala Elections 2016.

Three-way battle

Given the high level of urbanisation in Kerala, 70 per cent of the ‘high-impact’ constituencies are from outside the top 10 cities. And with a three-way battle for the first time in its history, it is likely that the actual percentage of ‘high-impact’ seats could be even higher.

Active users

Nationally, Kerala has about three per cent of the country’s electors; it is also home to nearly five per cent of social media users who are eligible to vote. More than 20 per cent of its voters have an account on Facebook. The survey confirms the fact that 90 per cent of those on social media are seriously following the election.

The margin of victories in Kerala has traditionally been rather low, which actually accentuates the importance of social media users in this election, the report says. Given its level of affluence and education, the State’s population has taken to social media quickly, and this will only increase significantly over the next few years, it explains.

The Election Commission’s engagement on digital media is extremely progressive, and very relevant in the context of Kerala. This engagement is only likely to increase, going forward.

Changing trends

Voter activity on the social media will further create pressure for political parties to engage more with them, the report says. Both the Election Commission and political parties could use the social media to get the young and affluent to turn up to vote.

The large incidence of ‘sharing’ makes it particularly important for parties to develop honest and favourable content.

A ‘sustained presence to engagement’ model will enable political parties and related stakeholders to establish quality relationships with voters which in turn would boost their overall electoral chances.

Published on May 18, 2016
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