Failed Social Media Campaigns in India

India, the battleground of one of the last few decades’ most divisive national elections, and the first one where Social media is arguably playing a big part. Political parties have hired specialist agencies and established large volunteer teams for a wide range of roles: to support their agendas, malign opponents with both propaganda and lies, and to act as trolls and converts as the day turns.

While I try to be nonchalant about their shenanigans, it is near impossible to ignore their efforts from a marketer’s perspective. And so far, I think most politicians, whether in India or other regions of the world, fail miserably on social media. Here’s why:

  1. Can’t be firm on policy:Depending on the way the wind is blowing on a given day, a politician needs to change tack immediately. With multiple stakeholders, and a diverse set of audiences to satisfy, they end up making promises to everyone. With conventional media and one way dialogue, they could take a misstep on a given day and course correct in due time, or simply, say they were misquoted. With social media, the audience hears from the proverbial horse’s mouth, and they have to be firm- which simply isn’t the way politics is played.
  2. Spend half their time dissing competition: When in doubt, blame the other party- with such rules of engagement, politicians don’t have the wherewithal to sustain campaigns by the strength of their manifestos. They necessarily try to malign opponents, and try to convert fence sitters. On social media, name calling and other such activities are frowned upon by people engaging with you, even as your supporters rejoice in your pot shots. With conventional media, one could think of responses and reply with wit, derision or amity in due course. With social media’s instant pressure, they can’t mostly keep up.
  3. Too serious for their own good:Try to remember the last time you heard a politician bring their personality to the table, Obama’s House of Cards tweet notwithstanding. Politicians, often to add respectability to their ‘image’, become split personalities, reserving interesting aspects of their personalities for family and close associates. One of India’s Prime Ministerial candidates, Rahul Gandhi, has been constantly criticized for being dour and unforthcoming, despite being collegial with groups closer to him. This isn’t just about him- Politicians from every country strip their personality of candour and become a wee bit ‘stuffy’, which isn’t something that wins you admirers on social media, who later convert to votes, hopefully.
  4. Engage with social in the same way as traditional media: While comparing these two forms would take another blog post, suffice it to say Politicians don’t want to appear ill at ease. With social media, their response is to create the same support teams and structures. God help you if you are a politician and not naturally ‘media savvy’. Next to your publicist, your social media team will have the toughest task.
  5. Fearful of social media: Above, I cited examples from countries where social media is mainstream enough to congregate voters, and thus politicians. Let’s however, not forget a wide swathe of countries, from Turkey banning Twitter to Russia restricting social media usage at the Sochi Olympics. Totalitarian regimes realise the losing battle they fight if they participate on social media. This is perhaps the most important reasons for many politicians’ failure on social- they just can’t stand to scrutiny.


Ad-vani’s Political Campaign:

Indian politician Lalchand Kishan Advani, tried to position himself in lines of Obama as a ‘change agent’.  He spent an average of Rs. 250 crores for his genuinely pathetic ad campaigns. He literally targeted all the Indian sites with his aggressive Adwords. Perhaps, while promoting himself insanely he forgot that ‘Advani is not a new product on the market’ which needs crazy branding!

Instead of connecting to the people online in a non-intrusive manner or mobilizing the bloggers to write about him, he preferred spamming the sites of the whole wide India.  His blog also didn’t seem to appeal to the audience much and he failed both in the elections, and on social media.

One of the famous Indian blogger writes about Advani’s campaign as follows:

“We saw Advani becoming Ad -Vani with his aggressive adwords campaign targeting every indian site. At one point there were only his ads on every site we browsed.  The first and foremost reason it failed – We hate Ads.”


Many businesses have their social media accounts nowadays. But not all business can generate leads through social media marketing campaigns. There are many reasons why social media campaigns fail. Here we have discussed about five important reasons of social media marketing campaign failure.

No Defined Goals : A social media marketing campaign must have a definite goal. It should have something to endeavor for-something which will give a return on investment to the company. However, increasing the number of likes on your Facebook page isn’t a tangible goal; likes are basically arbitrary. People may like a page and then take the page out of their newsfeed, paying no attention to all the sales messages. Rather, emphasize on goals such as connecting with industry analysts, product reviewers, journalists as well as other people who can help spread the name of your brand. People will automatically follow you on Twitter or like your Facebook page along the way.

Not Considering Social Media as a Two-Way System: A lot of social media campaigns do not become successful because they take ‘social’ out of the campaign. Rather than engaging with the people and creating messages that get responses, companies push out content, which their target audience is not interested to look at. You should be social in your campaign. That is the main point. You post something, people comment on your post and then you comment in response to those comments-this is the process. But make sure your posts/messages are based on what your target audience is interested in or talking about. Great conversation takes place when you talk about something that’s relevant, happening and interesting.

Making Assumptions about Social Media Culture: Social media marketing strategies will work great if you understand the different cultures of different social media channels. Don’t think that you know the culture of all the social media sites. Spend some time listening at first. The Facebook users do not like to be talked to like they are Twitter users. You should connect with people based on emotional perceptions.

Product Pushing or/and Excessive Advertising: Do you know why people follow a corporate social media account? May be they are looking for online deals or want to be the first one to know about your services or products. However, these people never follow a social media account  to be inundated with the company ads. When it’s social media, you should go for the relationship first and not sale. No one would want to see posts, which always talks about ‘buy our products, shop from us.’ It is annoying. Advertising is fine, but excessive advertising is not good.



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