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Global Knowledge Network On Voter Education - learning from each other

The role of Social media
The role of Social media
Goa is among the most literate states having better network connectivity. The use of social media is quite common in Goa especially Facebook and Whatsapp. Observing this trend, the CEO office started facebook page (http://facebook.com/CEOGoa) and twitter handle (http://twitter.com/CEO_Goa) to engage and educate citizens on various aspects of election during the Special Summary Revision 2017.

The creatives used during initial days were sourced from Election Commission of India advertisements, local creations and from students of Goa College of Arts. The office used services of students of Goa College of Engineering as Interns to connect with youth on social media. EPIC Selfie competition was launched targeting new voters and youth to post their selfie with new Voter ID Card (EPIC) or enrolment form. Winners were decided on basis of likes and shares. The EPIC selfie contest saw good participation and high user interaction in view of nature of competition. It got the CEO Goa facebook page noticed and the traffic on these platforms increased drastically.

The experience during the Special Summary Revision gave useful insight into potential of social media in citizen engagement and education. Social media management requires constant updation of content and audience management strategies. The contents posted on facebook page was lacking uniformity, design and appeal. Considering the General Election to be in process immediately after Special Summary Revision, the CEO office chose Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) which has a vibrant and professionally managed facebook page and twitter handle to implement digital marketing under supervision of CEO Office.

The Digital Marketing was focussed towards three objectives:

ADAPT Model for Digital Marketing was used with following features

The potential reach of Facebook was analysed. In 18+ age group, the potential reach was found to be 4,20,000, nearly 35 per cent of voters. In (18-25) age group, the potential reach was 2,00,000.

The direction of entire campaign was focussed on three goals of VVPAT usage, Ethical Voting and Maximum participation. The creative development and messaging was done in these particular direction.

Considering the preponderance of youth in the social media platform, the creatives were made to look modern, youthful, trendy and contemporary.

Social media and webpage was redesigned using bootstrapping and a mobile version was created to give an app like look with smooth transition from webpage to mobile look. Tools:
Carousel strategy was used to reduce visual fatigue. Separate locations in Goa were targeted with 10 mile radius and six creatives were rotated in that particular radius. So when a visitor was moving from one area to another, he was watching a different content (advertisement). This also gave an idea of which advertisements were getting more hits and accordingly, that creative was separately boosted to get wider reach in the public.

Responding to this growing challenge, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) works across the globe and in partnership with election management bodies, academia, media and civil society to strengthen the critical thinking and media literacy skills of youth. These areas of support represent key components of IFES' broader civic education programming, which is designed to strengthen the skills, values and knowledge that are key for mindful, democratic citizenship in the digital age.

Social Media in use

Social Media especially facebook with large presence in Goa became the preferred medium of communication with citizens and voters. ADPAT model provided a framework within which the campaign has to move. Election has various stakeholders and proper communication from Election Machinery to citizens is essential to ensure that they get right information on various rules and procedures, activities of election machinery and the events leading to culmination of election process.

Logo Rebranding: In modern advertising world logo becomes the symbol or organisation and its most visible feature. It creates a easy recall for the brand and helps in making a lasting impact in education of audience. A new trendy, colourful logo was created which emphasised vibrancy of Goa with focus on importance of voting with indelible ink mark as a most visible form of participation and voting date was put in which constantly reminded the voters about voting day. It was used in all creatives and communication from Election Machinery. Creatives: Standard format was created for brand building and same was used in all mediums, Facebook, banners, hoardings, ads etc. Regular update was provided to audience on activities of Election Machinery, provisions of elections, VVPAT usage through witty and creative messages. The language was kept simple and easy to understand. The audio-visual messages of Election Icons were widely used. In the last week of campaign period, immediately before voting day, a targeting campaign started to remind viewers about voting day to ensure that they remained focussed to exercise their franchise. On voting day messaging was done with features on "Come Out and Vote" with witty graphics. Major Focus areas of creatives were:

Messaging by Icons:
Goa had 6 State icons and 23 District Icons. The icons were selected from people having rich social, cultural, sports contribution to Goa and having good standing in Goan society so that their messages are easily conveyed to people. Creates were made with motivational message of icons for posting on social media. Icons also create very catchy video songs which went viral with wide reach.

Information sharing with voters: on important activities concerning their voting especially EPIC distribution and grievance redressal mechanism

VVPAT usage:: Goa was witnessing VVPAT for the first time. Voters were having confusion about secrecy and efficacy of VVPAT. VVPAT Demo was conducted in every nook and corner of State despite rumours were noticed and the features of VVPAT was repeatedly emphasised through infographics and videos

Regular update of onground activites was made to ensure that voters feel constantly connected with Election Machinery

Promotion of Ethical Voting

Significant Days were celebrated through Social Media to keep citizens engaged
Music Videos and Clips : Clips convey messgaes quite emphatically and with current trend of avg attention span being less than a minute, clips and small music video of very short durations were made and posted on social media. These created a good interaction of citizens with facebook page.
Reminder Posts on voting: Preceding week from voting day was devoted to subtle message containing voting to be most important thing to do on 4th Feb, 2017 (Voting Day). A barrage of creatives were constantly posted.
Targetted Campaign on Voting Day: Come out and Vote.
Engagement Strategy: One sided posting can lead to fatigue among audience and posting should be two way. One important aspect of Digital Marketing campaign was social media competition. It was organised with help of election interns who were college students. EPIC Selfie contest, Slogan Contest were organised on facebook wherein the winners were decided through number of likes and shares. It helped in spreading the page catchment and also kept youth engaged with electoral processes. The Slogan contest helped the office in getting good content for future creatives which were converted into catchy creatives with good graphics.
Boosting Strategy:
Care was taken to identify posts having good footprints. Facebook discourages boosting of heavy text items, so pictorial creatives were boosted and heavy text items were used for awareness building of existing users. The facebook insights and statistics were used to target the different user groups in different geographies. For every ad campaign, facebook provides detailed statistics and expected reach which ensured effective use of boosting.

Two-way communication through facebook:
Social Media platforms are useful tool for citizen interaction. Citizens can give comments on posts as well as send private messages. It gives a direct feedback on on-ground activities as in understanding issues of voters and solving specific problems like not getting Voter ID card or getting report on violations. This was directly monitored by CEO. Prompt replies to citizen's queries were given from CEO Office and prompt action was taken on specific complaints. Facebook "live" is an interesting feature by which with help of a mobile phone with good network connectivity, a direct live video broadcast can be made with audiences. This feature was used in different programs and press conferences. The questions posed by viewers were also answered during the facebook live session. Facebook live witnessed a large number of footprints.

Key Analytics
The audience continued growing gradually each day in form of participation, page likes, views etc. Small clips and songs on ethical voting and participation became viral with large number of audiences. In a small period of time the page likes increased to 35,000 which corresponds to 3% of voters.
Key Learnings:
  • Misinformation spreads fast, so effective monitoring and countering needed
  • ECI's pre-eminence position and reputation helps in conveying message
  • Education of public important to win trust followed by action
  • With social media, citizen-government dialogue has changed, passivity in citizen interaction make the system dependent on other media platforms, with social media, a cost effective real time interaction medium exist.
  • Social media creates a unique platform for citizen-government dialogue and it is live
  • Relevant, catchy messages help gain audience and attention resulting in traction and coverage
  • Professional agency support is required. We started with Goa Arts College, poster competition but messages lacked penetration and professionalism
  • Features like facebook live enables administrator to directly communicate to users with a simple smartphone
  • Attention span is low so songs, clips should not be more than a minute
  • On social media when posts becomes viral in no time, constant inflow of fresh content is required