Of political parties and competitive hashtag trending

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It is fairly well known that marketers and agencies consider hashtag trending (preferably No.1 in a geography) as a key success parameter of a Twitter campaign. It is also believed that such a trend can be engineered through deployment of a social media team who systematically tweets to ensure that a ‘trend’ is created. We see that happening during launch events of gadgets and services. I believe that on most days trending topics hardly reflect the pulse of the people or the issue of the day – it is sheer muscle power of a social media team at play. I think real sentiments show up as a trend mostly during live sporting or entertainment events.

Political parties in India bring in a new angle to hashtag trending: the one about agenda. A political party typically would engineer a trend, say #ABCDisGreat only to be matched by a rival party who would trend #ABCDislousy. This happens day in day out with boring predictability. Tamil film fans take it to another level with their rival affiliations, but that’s a topic for another day.

What exactly are the political party strategists trying to achieve by this competitive trending? Don’t they realise that people can see through this fakery? If it is about influencing public opinion to your point of view, especially among the fence sitters of political affiliation, one would imagine a dose of credibility would help. This blind praise or critique does not help much in winning over a ‘non-believer’ in my view. It only strengthens the views of someone who is already sold to an affiliation. Pretty much like what happened to Samsung when they ran a global campaign mocking the iPhone and its users. I thought it will not help switch hardcore users but will only make current Samsung owners happy about their choice. In this context, what the Indian political parties and their social media teams are doing with competitive hashtag trending is like talking to themselves. Maybe the strategy is keep at it till the next elections and hope that a sufficient number from the other side of the fence are convinced with the name calling that they believe they were wrong about their choice. What say?

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