Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are likely to influence at least 160 Lok Sabha constituencies out of 543 during the next general elections, according to a study carried out by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IRIS Knowledge Foundation.

The study identified 67 constituencies as Medium Impact ones, while the rest have been identified as Low Impact or No Impact constituencies.

Maharashtra has the most High Impact Constituencies (21), followed by Gujarat (17).

“High Impact Constituencies are those where the number of Facebook users is more than the margin of victory of the winner in the last Lok Sabha election, or where Facebook users account for over 10 per cent of the voting population,” the report said.

The corresponding numbers are 60 out of 543 in the Low Impact category and the remaining 256 out of 543 in the No Impact Category.

According to the report, the Medium Impact constituencies are those where it has been assumed that a Facebook user can influence one other voter, who may not be on Facebook.

Medium Impact Constituencies have the total number of Facebook users in excess of 5 per cent of the voting population.

According to Social Media in India-2012, another report by IAMAI, the number of social media users in urban India reached 62 million by December 2012.

Essentially, about 74 per cent of all active Internet users in urban India use social media. The estimated number of social media users by June 2013 is expected to reach 66 million.

The growth in the number of social networking users can be attributed to the rising Internet penetration in India, through increasing affordability of smart phones and consequent mobile Internet use.

Social media usage ranks only after email (80 per cent) in terms of usage. Essentially, social networking often serves to be among the “First Internet Users” of Internet in India, that is, besides the usual reasons like email, music and gaming, the report stated.

While evaluating social media usage by different devices, it was found that there are about 39.7 million active mobile Internet users in urban India.