Congress’s social media team is on the loose with rapid political developments inside and outside the party, as well as catering to digital outreach needs with physical rallies postponed due to Covid. The plans for managing the digital perception of all political parties, which have a footprint on online platforms, had to adapt very quickly to the Omicron wave that imposed severe restrictions on traditional methods of election campaigns and the social media team in Congress is no different.
Headquartered in Mohali with presence in all districts and assembly constituencies, a robust social media campaign has been launched by the Congress Digital Warriors led by their National Digital Coordinator in charge of Punjab, Gaurav Pandey.
We set up a war room in October in Sector 70 of Mohali. We have a core team of 25 members and many volunteers working remotely. We’ve also announced a team that includes administrators of the Social Media Division offices at the state, county, and each constituency levels,” says Pandey.
10000 groups WHATSAPP
Pandey explains the work the digital campaign headquarters is doing, and says here that the team creates content in political strategy. “This content is spread across social media. We have 10000 active Whatsapp groups at the moment in Punjab. These groups have people from constituencies. For our party workers, we have existing groups of about 7,000,” he says.
Pandey claims that the Congress campaign on social media in Punjab has gained momentum and reached its climax with the dawn of the new year. “We also have a Facebook page. We are doing number one in Punjab on traffic. Today the number of posts is more than 8 million. Until a few days ago, AAP was occupying this space so this shows that Congress acceptance is increasing all over Punjab. ,” he says.
The digital campaign should be implemented in consultation with the political leadership. And in a torn state Congress, it can be a daunting task. However, the digital team was able to start coordinating. “Our focus is more on coordination with the leadership. We were able to coordinate with the leaders as per our requirements. We did the “Lokaan di sarkar” campaign on December 31 which was a huge success. These campaigns were launched on Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram. These platforms have greater capacity On access,” Pandey argues.
The focus was also on creating a network where congressional messages would reach the people who would actually vote. “Pushing content is one thing. But we also get feedback from them. We want people to participate in the campaign, so that feedback is important,” he says. The party’s digital team also created a broadcast network of about 10,000 people. “We have a list of broadcasters who have signed up with us. There is a certain number these people have saved and they are receiving our messages directly,” says Pandey.
Much of the focus is on Prime Minister Charangit Singh Chani’s government and the work it has been doing since they took office a few months ago. However, the campaigns also highlight some of the work that has been done in the past five years as well. “We ran a ‘Hath Punjab da’ campaign and now we’ve campaigned on Sonu Sood with Congress. Gaurav says ‘111 Congress Dubara’ was also a successful campaign.
Every week the digital team launches three to four campaigns on social media, and this includes one big one that has the most impact. “We release songs too. We got 15 lakh views on ‘Channi Karda Masle hal’ while the ‘70,000 kursi 700 bande’ campaign after Modi failed in Ferozepur made a big lottery as well. People already started using these phrases in their social media exchanges. When You publish a campaign, the idea is to get it into people’s minds,” he says.
Pandey says that the general public started using these lines on Facebook and this showed the success of the campaign.
Curtains on physical gatherings
“Because the elections are going digital, I don’t see any physical rallies happening right now. We need to digitally reach the maximum number of people. This needs to start now. Our focus is on live digital rallies that should be seen by the greatest number of people. Commission guidance is Europe is a boon because it will provide an experience for political parties to go digital. Large rallies will eventually stop even after Covid, in my view. This is the way forward politically. Just as governance has become digital, so the political process that takes you to government also needs to transform. to digital,” says Pandey.
“This happened in Bihar state elections also after the first Covid wave and all of a sudden everyone started exploring digital means. Now we are using this experience,” he adds.
In terms of ways and means to make digital gatherings work, Pandey says this has to happen at different levels. “Our central leadership will address the people of Punjab. The idea is to reach the people on their phones directly at that time. Same goes for the state leadership. The biggest challenge is how to get the local leadership in the assembly circles to deal with this. Individually to the voters, “They will have to adapt to the changes,” he said.
The party set up additional digital control rooms at the district level. These control rooms are used to deliver local messages and are staffed by an average of four to five people, all of whom are congressional staff.
This is the first time Congress has taken over a social media campaign and it has not been outsourced. No agency is involved,” he says.
There’s also a huge effort social media teams from all parties have put in to outsmart opponents but just as expected, the head of congressional digital media doesn’t want to talk about those. Reasonable deniability is included in such campaigns to prevent backlash should it occur.
Commenting on one of the recent successes of the Punjab Digital Congress team, the fallout from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security breach Ferozepur tops Pandey’s list. “In the Modi incident, as it happened, we were already running the ‘Punjab virodhi Modi’ campaign. We put together excerpts from CM Channi’s press conference on the same day. Then we analyzed Modi’s bridge footage and started putting things in SPG loopholes. Then we took people’s opinions. On the street about the incident.Our focus was that people didn’t attend the rally, and as a face saver, the BJP created this hingama.We created a lot of content that worked,” says Pandey.