Blaring music, supporters dressed in green and red bearing the heat, women and children waving flags with their faces painted, screaming anchors and politicians are some visuals which we have been seeing for over a week now. There have been mixed opinions on whose right, who’s wrong and who is just not bothered with the chaos. One of the many strings pulled by the captain (Imran Khan) is awakening the upper middle and elitist groups of the educated society in Pakistan. Now hear me on this, this is not a politically motivated article but I’m here to share some workings behind the political movement. Distantly or closely, it will be talking about PTI and some other online political campaigns which has mobilized the strata from their homes to streets.
When Khan brought the tsunami prior to the elections in 2013, the effect was felt right where PTI non voters existed. Many of the onlookers were amazed to see the bourgeois class coming out of the comforts of their homes to vote. This movement is much to be blamed on the untiring social media team lead by captain. Inquisitive onlookers (who are not very twitter/facebook savvy) joined the brigade, drawing the attention of politicians to the not so new medium the social network.
Social networks are not a new concept internationally. People have been using it for different purposes other than just communicating with family abroad. The US elections were one of the best examples of positive use of the social media. Barrack Obama and Mitt Romney, initiated their online campaigns, and proactively took part in generating tweets and updates on facebook pages. The two parties contested over social networks and indulged in a healthy dialogue. The Obama for America (OFA) campaign hired analytics engineers and scientists to work on text analytics, social network/media analysis, web personalization, computational advertising to work on a strategy to cover the world wide web. As a result, they had 2 million Facebook friends, 14.5 million hours of YouTube views and raised $500 million dollar online for the campaign.
They hired many technical staff to monitor their Amazon Web service technology for many reasons. It provided reliability, scalability to fuel the election campaign. But the success of PTI’s social media depends entirely on volunteers who have limited resources at their hand. Their first facebook page went live in 2008. This marked the beginning of their journey to capture youngsters by sending them text message. Their social media teams works without an office and has been termed as one of the most active parties on the internet.
While many other parties such PML (N) has followed suit but their presence remains considerable lower than the penetration of PTI supporters online. Maryam Nawaz Sharif is the sole representation of the party on twitter who is constantly being bombarded with tweets by agitated voters and non voters.
The use of social media is in politics is quite common in many parts of the world but our Pakistani population is having hiccups about actually acknowledging the fact that it the movement of people. The term Internet Revolution has been proved fruitful in birth of the Arab spring and will someday be soaring in Pakistan in the name of true democracy.