The Billion Dollar Tweet

Posted by Saahil on Tuesday May 7, 2013

It was 10:30 pm in Bangalore. I distinctly remember the rumble of the thunder and the silver spark amidst the orange sky.

I decided to hit the bed early, for the fear of thunder raising its decibels and the love of silver in the sky. The rain in the air was moistening the eyes and making it heavy and droopy. I decided to go on twitter one last time for the daily dose of news. Then at 10:38 pm I read a tweet from the Associated Press about bomb blasts at White House and that Barack Obama is injured. This particular tweet pumped unquantifiable adrenaline in my blood stream. I raced to the television only to see the towering sixes of Chris Gayle, repeatedly; a bombing outside the French embassy in Tripoli and an interview of a gay activist who was speaking in a heavy French accented English on his triumph in Paris. There was zilch news on the ‘purported’ blasts at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Then I realized that the Associated twitter handle has been hacked by the pro-Assad Syrian ‘electronic’ army. Then amidst all the rain and thunder I started reading investigating more only to realize that the High Frequency Trading (HFT) algorithm had picked up the tweet and started a mass exodus from the various bourses. Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 1%. In just two minutes it fell from 14700 points to 14554, a drop of 146 points.

This ‘short-lived hoax on twitter briefly erased $200 billion of value from US stock markets. This hoax opened a Pandora box of vulnerabilities of financial markets apropos Twitter. We should also view it the other way, the vulnerabilities of computerized trading programs that buy and sell shares without human interventions apropos social media.

The two-minute selling spree left many traders stunned and dismayed, even though the market quickly recovered the losses afterward.

“It’s frustrating and scary that a tweet can erase hundreds of billions from the market in a short time, but that’s the world we live in,” said R.J. Grant, associate director of equity trading at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) officials, I have read, are looking into trading activity that took place in response to the AP tweet, according to a spokesman, who said the agency routinely looks into irregular market action. Regulators looking into the activity said it was too early to tell if the tweet was intended to disrupt the market. Jenny Shearer, an FBI spokeswoman in Washington, said the bureau is also investigating the incident.

This thunderous night was proving to be, at least for those two minutes, a-la the famous ‘flash crash’ of 6th May 2010 when the Dow plummeted 1000 points.

The Syrian Electronic Army, which describes itself as “a group of enthusiastic Syrian youths”, a group devoted to President Bashar-al-Assad, the anti anti-incumbency group. Was this hack an upshot of just a youthful escapade? Or was it part of a much bigger conspiracy by the Assad lenient groups to bring in cash to repay for the Kalashnikovs and Molotov Cocktails? Was Assad rejoicing in the Russian submarine? Should the SEC be more careful with the social media guidelines that it outlined a month back, should it add that…. that…. that je ne sais quoi.

Meanwhile the rain has stopped. The thunder is at a distant. Rumbling, waiting to strike again.

 

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What is Vine and why is everyone talking about it?

 

It wasn’t that long ago when video capture and editing was the purview of a select group. The camera equipment was expensive and bulky; it was in the league of designing a spacecraft! It also needed a lot of training and special editing software. Back in our parents’ day, they had to carry 20lb VHS recorders just to shoot a few minutes of film!

And we have it so easy! A video recorder that fits in our pocket and snippets of video in a super-digestible format. It is truly an evolution of social media apps. Voila!

 

In January 2013, Twitter released Vine video, its free video-sharing application that enables brands, businesses and consumers to shoot and upload six-second snippets to blogs, presentations, e-mails and social media sites. Vine is Twitter’s six-second video. The idea is to create quick, easy and interesting short films to share with friends and network on Facebook and Twitter. It is an app, currently only for iOS, that records six seconds of video and posts it on an endless loop to your Twitter account.

 

We have put together a bunch of reasons why Vine should be a part of your marketing mix?

We have already noticed how more marketers are using images and videos in their marketing mix; visual content is a marketer’s survival guide today. Capture quick video snippets and post them to YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter.

It’s testimony to the fact that media soothsayers have been crowing for years about how video is the future.

It is also a great App to drive Social Media ROI. One can drive more traffic by using tags, social buttons and share buttons.

 

1) It is a perfect app for brand-new user generated content

In my previous blog, we discussed how companies would make the most of User Generated Content. And Vine is the best way to create short, beautiful, looping videos in a simple and fun way. Sometimes, clients have problems gathering up-to-date seasonal content for their websites, however user generated content is a great source of recent information and Vine is a perfect platform to leverage that.

Vinepeek is a website that enables one to drive more traffic to all social media platforms. It aggregates videos in real time showcasing an endless stream of six-second snippets of everyday lives.

 

 

2) It is a brand new and exciting way to reach out

Vine has managed to garner mass followings despite of it being a micro-video site. It is a great way to reach out to followers, and customers by broadcasting a 6 second video. One can also shoot a short loop; post a video with a minimum of 3 seconds. A brand or a company can share the best moments with the new hero of video sharing app. Its brevity is the (potential) source of its creativity. Small Tip– Pick a shot that’s mostly still but has just one or two elements that move.

 

3) It is the combination of the best!

Vine is a video sharing app, a combination of photo and video sharing with sounds. You can think of Vine as Instagram meets YouTube with a dash of Twitter!

Social networks, Facebook and Twitter are aware of this and have already started to get their hands on it.  We saw a couple months ago how Facebook is betting on improving the way content is consumed on its platform. Two of the latest improvements are the Social Graph and the Newsfeed update. The latest development in the social video area is Twitter’s Vine Social Video App.

 

4) Vine is great for Social SEO

Vine is a true representation of the times as far as how and where communication between brands and the individual is going. Social video apps are how people want to engage and communicate with each other. Twitter’s inclusion of video content will prove to be a pivotal asset in the process of strengthening brands’ relationships with their consumers, as they develop their social SEO and search marketing strategies.

 

5) Vine is simple to use

Vine is simple to use, the app’s stripped-down interface attempts to remove every point of friction. It offers users the opportunities to actively edit their creation. It is content that is easily made and easily consumed.

Vine videos are already starting to clog my Twitter feed and here’s a link one such interesting video. Let us know how you would use this cool video-sharing app both personally and professionally.

You can connect with us on Twitter @futurontweets or you can follow us on Facebook. 
Disclaimer: All links/image posted are on third party websites. Copyrights as applicable.

 

 

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Facebook, Video and Marketing.

Posted by Saahil on Monday Apr 22, 2013

I was taken by surprise when Twitter went ahead to procure Vine videos. To me it didn’t made sense then, but then this Vine did intoxicate me.

This resulted in me doing a little research on understanding the Business Intelligence (BI) behind video marketing on a social media, which is predominantly used for posts and stills.

Lets stack the two giants against each other.

Facebook Vs. YouTube

If you’re only going by video alone, I could probably mention 50 reasons why YouTube is a more robust and valuable platform for video than Facebook. However, as an overall marketing platform, Facebook is arguably more valuable than YouTube for many businesses. So while I would not treat Facebook video as an equivalent business value to YouTube – I completely agree that it should be a place for businesses to upload videos.

Some of the facts that work towards the favour of Facebook-

  1. Audience- Facebook is the 2nd largest trafficked website, with over 600 million active users
  2. Referrals- Facebook is the 2nd largest referral source for video
  3. Mobile- 175+ million active users take Facebook with them wherever they go
  4. Time- According to a Nielsen study, an average Facebook user spends about 7 hours on Facebook per month
  5. Versatility- Facebook supports multiple video formats
  6. Length- Facebook allows up to 20 minutes, 5 minutes more than YouTube
  7. Connectivity- a wide range of sharing features and engagement opportunities. While Facebook doesn’t let you share it’s content onto other social networks (like YouTube and Twitter), because of its large member base, you will certainly have many more connections from the onset that may lead to better sharing potential.
  8. Search Engine Visibility- Facebook videos are visible within Google Search
  9. Social Media Optimization (SMO)- Excellent keyword encoding or tagging capabilities
  10. Conversions- Hot triggers around the video for taking an intended action

These facts in isolation would appear ordinary and mediocre but when seen together they appear impressive and formidable.

An insightful tip on video marketing on Facebook-

If you have a Facebook page you can set up what’s called a landing page on Facebook. What I’ve seen a lot of businesses do is record a welcome video, where it’s usually a talking head of the company welcoming them to the actual fan page, and sometimes pointing up and saying, “if you like our page please click the like button.” So the Facebook landing page is actually encouraging the viewer to act through the spoken talking heads in the video telling them what to do.

 

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V. Sundaram Sampath, the chief election officer is losing sleep over the use of social media by political parties. Karnataka is going to elections on 5th May 2013, as this ‘D-day’ approaches, fierce battles are being fought on social media, especially Twitter. The Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress and the newly formed Karnataka Janata Paksha have all taken to Twitter and have divided the Indian Twitterati into various camps. Each camp tries to spew venom on the other and confetti on themselves.

Taking a cue from Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s successful social media campaign in Gujarat, the BJP wing of Karnataka is tweeting away. With a little over 6000 followers so far, the party is surely hoping that the actual number would be at least a 3-digit multiple of that.

Even the regional political parties, like the Janata Dal (S) have joined the bandwagon primarily in the attempt to breakaway from their rural image.

While words like ‘troll’, ‘fiend’ and ‘fanboi’ make a visit on social media, Election Commission is brainstorming on how to implement the 48-hour deadline in the virtual media.

The Election Commission has put in place a ban on any kind campaign 48 hours prior to the elections. But with a flood of Twitter and Facebook messages already on cyberspace, how effectively would the election watchdogs look beyond the façade of the Twitter handle and Facebook bio? Will they be able to discern the ‘associative silhouette’ by reading the tweets and posts? Will the election watchdog be able to curb the social media campaign wars?

Only time will tell.

In the meantime I would urge and appeal to all the ‘trolls’, ‘fiend’ and ‘fanbois’ to come out and vote bereft of your ‘official’ loyalties. Please come out of this ‘prison-of-a-box’ and vote.

 

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Best Practices for Instagram!

Posted by Archita on Wednesday Apr 10, 2013

 

A picture speaks a thousand words. Then why not use the power of pictures to market your brand? Research shows that human brain has a higher recall value for Graphic/Pictorial things.  I’m talking about the hottest and most lucrative social media platform that people and brands have been flocking – Instagram! It has transformed not just the way people took pictures but also the way people use social media to communicate. Check out this funny video to know what we are talking about.

Although still a young social network, it was launched in 2010, compared to deep-rooted platforms like Facebook and Twitter, the mobile social network may provide a good opportunity for marketers interested in visual content marketing.

Being lighter and easier to use, Instagram,  does away with all the extra add-ons like the obligatory status updates, sponsored stories etc. and allows you to see only the thing your customers are interested in- The Pictures. Whether the pictures are of your products, or if they are the behind the scene shots of their favorite celebrities, it definitely gives a far more interesting option of seeing everything as opposed to reading about it. They seem to work on the simple principle- A picture is worth a thousand words- and given Instagram’s amazing options to ‘filter’ and ‘customise’ images, every picture becomes ten folds richer and lovelier.

Taco Bell made this wreath entirely out of Taco Bell sauce packets and put it on their Instagram to wish people ‘Merry Christmas’
This is exactly why we are seeing a rising number of companies rushing to Instagram. After having milked the Facebook and Twitter to its last drop, they had to find a new way to market and increase their brand appeal and Instagram has come into picture at the right time!

Currently many brands seem to be trying to be more involved and proficient on Instagram, but a few brands like Burberry, American Express, Red Bull and Adidas have already hit the peak with more than 100,000 Instagram followers.

Burberry successfully leveraged ‘behind-the-scenes’ shot from the filming of Romeo Beckham’s commercial to increase curiosity among their fans that pushed the engagement to another level.

American Express is known to post artsier pictures of fashion shows and concerts sponsored by them which obviously make up for an amazing visual treat –both for men and women.

If you notice the above examples, Instagram is not only common with retail and FMCG businesses like Burberry and Red Bull- who rely on images of its product to market themselves, but finance businesses like American Express have also managed to leverage this platform and run sustained marketing campaigns on Instagram.

If you are planning to start using Instagram for your brands then read further. The do’s and don’ts tips given below will help you give your marketing strategy an extra mileage to run your business effectively.

Do’s

  1. Be regular with your updates; share at least 1 photo on Instagram per week. Although the top Instagram brands have varying strategies and objectives on the platform, they share some common metrics and sharing habits and sharing one picture a week is one of them!
  2. Establish your motif and stick with it, whether it is a collection of shots from your daily life or your city. Followers will come to expect a certain quality to your photos, and while it can be fun to stray occasionally, too much deviation might bug them. MTV, for example, is less interested in using filters on Instagram and is known to post candid shots of musicians and celebrities on the sets of MTV programs
  3. Match your Twitter, Facebook usernames with your Instagram username. Those who follow you on Instagram will likely want to follow you on Twitter and Facebook as well.
  4. Make sure your take interesting and creative pictures. Understand that anybody with an android or an iPhone can take a picture and make it look beautiful on Instagram; Hence remember to take creative pictures that will also help to build your brand reputation.
  5. Write captions or tag locations that explain the photo. Let your photo speak your story and let your followers know the thought behind it.
  6. Use hash tags tastefully, like on Twitter, using hash tags can increase the visibility of your post.

Don’ts

  1. Do not treat your brand like an online catalogue on Instagram. Instagram gives brands a chance to be creative and connect with younger fans at a relatively low cost. So, make use of this opportunity and click pictures of something that will resonate with your target audience and build your brand image as well.
  2. Do not flood the feed by posting pictures every hour and do not post bad quality pictures. You will lose followers in no time.
  3. Do not post DSLR pictures. Instagram is meant to celebrate the beauty of mobile and spontaneous photography. You do not want followers to protest and blacklist your brand.
  4. Instagram does not work on ‘you scratch my back and i’ll scratch yours’ principle. So, do not like every photo just to increase likes on your photos.

futurON would love to hear your thoughts about marketing on Instagram. Please leave a comment below.

 

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Facebook Home: A bid to increase ad revenue?

Posted by Saahil on Friday Apr 5, 2013

The much awaited launch of a Facebook phone has met with mixed responses from both industry veterans and avid facebookers.  Facebook did not unveil a phone, but a bespoke Android overlay called ‘Facebook Home’. It also revealed that the Taiwanese electronic giant, HTC Corporation, will debut a phone called ‘HTC First’ which would run the overlay as standard. This debut is touted to happen a week from now.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and chief executive, explained that the firm is looking to put ‘people, not apps’ at the centre of the phone in a bid to revolutionize the smartphone experience and to further grow its mobile experience.

“We’re not building a phone and we’re not building an operating system. What we’re building is something that goes much deeper than just an ordinary app.” he said.

‘Facebook home’ app shows off capabilities such as a slideshow of recent images on your front screen or putting updated from friends at the top of the screen. “The home screen is the soul of your phone. You check it a hundred times a day, so we want to build the best experience for every person on their Android phone.” he said.

Another key tool built into the platform is the ability to receive messages – called Chat Heads – without having to exit the app you’re currently using while still being able to reply to the messages you’re getting, as either texts or Facebook messages.

‘Facebook home’ is intended to work across platforms, so iOS and Windows Phone messages will appear in the similar manner.

This app will be made available to the public on 12th April in the US only. Some of the devices to run on the platform will be HTC One, HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung Galaxy S3, Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and Samsung Galaxy S4.

Zuckerberg was joined by Peter Chou, CEO HTC, to show off ‘HTC-First’ the first smartphone to run on this overlay. The device will be available from 12th April in the US on AT&T for $99.99.

Facebook confirmed that they are working with EE, Samsung and a host of other vendors on delivering the overlay when it is made available.

Industry analyst have underlined that this move, by Facebook, is to boost the firm’s desire to get its users more active on the site in order to help boost the appeal to advertisers.

It appears that analysts have given an overwhelming verdict in the negative. Perhaps this diffidence stems from the level of excitement and expectation they had developed prior to the event. To me 12th April is the ‘D’ Day.

Please let us know what you feel about this new ‘game-changer’ strategy?

 

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Video marketing strategy on social media

Posted by Saahil on Tuesday Apr 2, 2013

The fast evolving world of social media is one of the best tools you can use to market your videos. With the advent of sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest; sharing of information is not only easy and convenient but also fun. If you are creating something of value, well – people will share it. In spite of this fact it is not enough to just create the content, send it into the universe, and hope somebody picks up on it.

If you want your content to reach the desired eyeballs in the shortest span of time possible, you need to understand your audience and their requirements. Your strategies should be based on the recced demography.

Recce

It is vital to understand and outline the target audience and more importantly the brand influencers. By using programs like FollowerWonk, Klout etc. you will be able to outline the brand influencers (followers with a higher social clout). These programs also provide information on social media users following brands similar to yours. Chances are, the common audiences of big brands in your industry will be interested in your company too.

Tweet to the clout

After identifying authority users and influencers in your industry that tend to retweet useful information. You must look at tagging them with the tweet containing your video link or in-twitter Vine. If you create truly interesting content, it’s likely to be retweeted by these power users – therefore getting your content in front of an audience previously inaccessible to you.

Listening to the clout

This can be your secret weapon.  It is paramount to have your ears open to the influencers. If you actually pay attention, you may hit upon something they’re specifically looking for – which is a potential gold mine for you. If you can create a video that solves a problem or answers a question the influencers are specifically looking for, it’s very likely that they will share it, again giving you access to their own, bigger audiences.

Build thy network

‘Networking’ or ‘making friends’ within the industry domain is important. This importance gets magnified if he or she has a wide social media network. These nodes would happily share your videos – so long you create something worth sharing, of course.

Geo-map your network

Share videos only during the time your networks would most likely be online.  There is no point in sharing the videos at odd hours, for they will vanish in the depths of the Internet.

Water the trend

Creating content that is trending or is in fad would help garner more followers. So if people are sharing your content there is no reason not to create more of it. Your followers are obviously finding value in your content. It is the best way to boost your brand reputation and followers.

Talk!!

If you only go on sharing videos on various social rostrums, your impact would be limited to the usefulness of your videos. However, if you respond to comments and questions people leave on your social media accounts, and you share content besides your own videos, you’ll be able to build a much more loyal following – which can only be good for business.

Magi has no formula, Quality does

You should always look at creating quality video. If you think you’ve hit on a magic video formula that people will automatically share, and so decide to start churning out more and more of it, don’t be surprised if the quality of your work suffers – and your followers stop following you. Creating good quality, useful videos should always be the top of your agenda.

These are some of the techniques that we, at futurON, have used successfully  for our  clients. What are your thoughts? Please feel free to share your video marketing techniques.

 

 

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Should a social media priest poke at the pizza or Was the new Dominos strategy, a crocodile Dundee in the making!

Social Media can be one of the most powerful news weapon in a company’s arsenal and is easily one of the fastest growing benefits of technology today. For companies that consistently provide reliable products and services to consumers, the use of social media to promote brand loyalty and recognition is a positive influence in online marketing. As social media use advances, so does the frequency in which brands are reaching out to their audiences to engage them through these channels. And of course, there are a bunch of other reasons why companies and brands should actively pursue social media.

Social Media must be handled with care or it can backfire just like that. Especially for companies with less than stellar reputations concerning customer service, social media becomes a backfiring weapon of mass destruction.

The fallout can be devastating, as evident  by the campaign of Dominos called the ‘game changer’ which completely backfired on social media. It promised to make a ‘game changing’ announcement, ‘the biggest in 20 years’.

#Australia

”Get ready for our biggest announcement in 20 years #gamechanger,” a banner on Domino’s Facebook page stated.

When the announcement ended up being a new range of pizza with different toppings Domino’s Australian customers lashed out at the pizza chain on Facebook and Twitter.

“Making square pizzas with nicer toppings certainly isn’t worth the hype. I can’t believe that Domino’s think this advertising is going to win them any new customers!!! Dumb Dumb Dumb!!!,” one user posted on the pizza chain’s Facebook page.

While on Twitter, one user wrote, “Thanks Domino’s. You just blue balls’d an entire country.”

To top it all, Dominos had hidden negative feedback from fans and customers.

There was a groundswell of criticism and negative feedback from ardent fans who were waiting eagerly for the big announcement.

Here are a few things Dominos could have done differently:

1.Listen first and never stop listening. -Social networks provide the opportunity for consumers to say whatever they want about the brand in question — but by the same token, they also provide companies with the chance to discover precisely what is being said about them. So it is imperative for brands to listen actively to what fans, customers, consumers and competitors are saying. If Domino’s could have sensed the anticipatory posts and discussions across various platforms, they would have understood that launching a square pizza with unique toppings is not a game changer. The customer’s wants more.

Tip: At the bare minimum, companies should have Google news alerts set up to help monitor their reputation, but it’s also a good idea to be vigilant in checking the buzz on Facebook and Twitter.

2. Be smart when handling a crisis- With negative online reviews and up-to-the-minute online news coverage both posing potential threats to business, immediate-response capacity of social networking is utterly paramount which Dominos, as evident from this incident, missed out on. It was important for Dominos to take blame and respond to the messages.

Tip: It can be extremely difficult for smaller teams to respond to messages individually. In those situations, it is important to alert all the fans and followers — not direct messages but regular status updates — letting them know what’s happening, and that they will receive more information as it becomes available.

It is important to keep customers in the loop as they are the true voice of the brand and they are social media savvy, which can help spread positive press about the brand.

3.Transparency- Consumers today demand greater transparency than ever before. When brands scrub criticism from their Facebook walls, customers are pretty quick to sniff it out, and they’re not afraid to point it out when you whitewash them. Was Dominos afraid of criticism and deleted all the negative updates, which proved to be catastrophic?. Fans reposted on social networks with renewed venom and vigour plus they told friends who started posting similar experiences.

Tip: On the other hand, brands that embrace all feedback earn points for their receptiveness to criticism.

4. Customer Service Opportunity- Whether it’s a single negative review or a heap of criticism, negative feedback is a golden opportunity to show that one is listening, responsive, and one cares. Considering Dominos did not do any of this, people resorted to ‘Public Shaming’ via social media.

Customers think that by  jumping straight to shameful public exposure one applies pressure to quickly resolve the problem.

Tip: It is imperative to train customer service teams to be hypersensitive to online negativity, possibly alienating and discouraging online positivity.

In conclusion, social networking can be an invaluable asset for any company and has proven to be an important and integral part of modern day business operations. But, one should also keep in mind that it takes some strategizing and approach to ensure that social networks are helping more than they are hindering.You can connect with us on Twitter @futurontweets or you can follow us on Facebook Disclaimer: All links/image posted are on third party websites. Copyrights as applicable.

 

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Do’s and Dont’s of social media

Posted by Archita on Wednesday Mar 20, 2013

As we increasingly get bulldozed on the information highway, the need to follow certain guidelines, certain parameters are required to understand both the direction and path.

This infographic contains all the essentials that one needs to survive whilst the chaos.

A ready reckoner for every social media enthusiasts.

 

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I was following the Italian general elections with interest, this time around. This interest was partly due to the vested interest (of my blogs) in the European economy and the fact that this election was being mulled by many as the return-election of Silvio Berlusconi and his centrist-right political group.

As the entire world waited for the results, trends began to emerge. The trends were clear and relieved many; Silvio was not touted as a winner in any of them. The results were in lines with the trends and opinion polls; the Common Good-Left coalition won the election making Pier Luigi Bersani as the next in line to the coveted office of the Prime Minister of Italy.

Did Bersani emerge as the gladiator? Many might answer in affirmation but a closer look at the election result  would paint a different picture.

On the night of 25th February, Rome witnessed the rise of a new gladiator. A new type of  gladiator. A gladiator so powerful and just that it compelled Rome to speak. Beppe Grillo and his five star movement party emerged as the second largest party, and third after factoring in the various coalitions. His votes have thrown the Italian election into a tizzy. He has emerged as the king-maker.

His success was not predicted by the Roman Clergy nor guided by the Pretorian prefects but by the vast support from the masses especially towards his anti-corruption movement. His prominence and his appeal reached the masses through, perhaps the most important arm of social media, blog. His Blog reached both Romans and Roma.

His uniqueness is what has clicked with the masses. His awkwardness became his strength. His comic sense (for he is professionally a comedian) and funny tirades at other candidates (Berlusconi- a psycho-dwarf) were the highlights of his election campaigns. His refusal to entertain mainstream media had earned him ire and fire from all corners of the media. His idiosyncrasies reached a completely new level of the stratosphere when he decided not to stand for election himself. Ordinarily this would probably mean that his support is overestimated by the polls. Yet normal rules do not apply! Grillo has, by an enormous margin, the largest social media following in Italy – in fact, in Europe.

He has over one million Facebook friends and a similar number of Twitter followers (Bersani has about a quarter of that). He uses this huge social media profile to make things happen offline. Grillo has constantly encouraged his supporters to discuss the issues he raises on his blog as they relate to local questions in their cities and towns. For example, as of 8th November 2012, there were officially 532 Grillo meet-up groups, containing 87,895 members spanning over 400 cities. This sort of local organization used to take years to build. His supporters show that they are motivated and mobilized – which means ready to get out and vote, and encourage their friends to vote as well. This can make a huge difference if apathy is high for other parties. In 2011 the Internet-based Pirate Party were expected to receive five per cent of the vote for the Berlin House of Representatives: they managed nine.

For an examiner this election will be something of an acid test; would the litmus paper turn red or purple is anyone’s guess. The rise of this gladiator has shunned all the doubts of the orthodoxy; Social media support and campaigns do translate to actual votes. Some old seminarians might term this as a shenanigan and would attempt to link Grillo’s largesse to Silvio’s libido or Monti’s failed attempt to revive the economy. His enormous social media following has weighed in its favour and any politician with a looming election should take a serious note of it.

Let us know whether you bless the marriage of Social Media and elections.

 

 

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