May 16, 2014 3:57 pm

How social media helped shape the India election

Modi’s victorious “India has won!” tweet – sent as the results came out Friday – has now become the most retweeted tweet in India.

AP Photo/Ajit Solanki

TORONTO – Despite his humble beginnings, India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been portrayed in the media as a 21st-century administrator who will help drive economic growth and revive job creation in the country.

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READ MORE: Who is India’s next prime minister Narendra Modi?

But the election wasn’t just pivotal for politics – it had a huge impact socially.

In the months leading up to the vote, Facebook said it received its 100 millionth user in India – a big milestone for a country that is estimated to have 170 million Internet users.

The election also received a record turnout, with 66.38 per cent of India’s 814 million eligible voters casting ballots during the six-week contest, which began April 7 and was held in stages across the country.

Turnout in the 2009 general election was 58.13 per cent.

Though it’s hard to say just how much social media played into the increase in votes, social sites played a large role in Modi’s campaigning and fuelled conversation about politics in the country.

Modi has over four million followers on Twitter and over 14 million “Likes” on Facebook – making him the second-most-liked politician on Facebook, coming in second to U.S. President Barack Obama.

During the 2009 election there was only one Indian politician on Twitter, with only 6,000 active followers.

Modi’s team used an aggressive social media strategy while campaigning, tweeting and updating Facebook users multiple times per day. He even kept a detailed blog, used hashtags like #SelfieWithModi, and used viral stunts like 3D holograms to reach voters.

Modi’s victorious “India has won!” tweet – sent as the results came out Friday – has now become the most retweeted tweet in India.

According to Twitter, there were over 56 million election-related tweets sent between January 1st and May 12, when the polls closed. More than 26 million Indians discussed the election on Facebook.

GRAPHIC: #IndiaVotes: the vote in 30 seconds

Modi wasn’t the only politician gaining social traction either. Arvind Kejriwal, leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, now has 1.79 million followers on Twitter – a 79 per cent growth since the beginning of the year, according Twitter. Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi does not have an official Twitter account.

India’s social media users encouraged voting, using images of their ink-stained fingers on Twitter and Instagram to make a statement.

Former Indian cricket player – known as “The God of Cricket” by fans – received over 4,000 retweets after posting a selfie of his ink-stained finger writing:

© Shaw Media, 2014

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