The Sri Lankan Provincial Council Elections 2013 to elect members for the Northern, Central and North Western Provincial Councils is just few days away. Whilst the candidates and political parties are busy with their rallies, visits and meetings, we take a look at their campaigning on social media platforms, reviewing the participation, content and fan interaction.
Relatively few of the politicians and parties are found to be using social media for their propaganda activities. Dedicated social pages are being used to promote messages, increase popularity and invite more people to vote for the respective people and parties.
The Facebook page of President Mahinda Rajapakse is highly active with photographs, albums and video clips. The Twitter page and YouTube page carry posts related to election campaigning as well as other official events. All these three accounts are updated several times a day. Namal Rajapakse’s Facebook page posts photo albums of recent campaigning events while the YouTube Channel is updated regularly with rally videos. The Twitter account, which is updated by Namal Rajapakse himself, carries photographs of recent campaign events. It is also noteworthy that there is some level of fan interaction with the account’s followers.
Sajith Premadasa’s Facebook and Twitter pages are updated daily with photo albums of election campaigning and rallies. The YouTube page is updated occasionally with meeting videos and such videos attract a few-hundred views. Ranjan Ramanayake’s Facebook and Twitter pages carry photographs of the elections campaigning while some level of fan interaction is to be seen in the latter.
Dayasiri Jayasekara, who is a popular candidate for the upcoming elections maintains an active Facebook page, which contains photo albums, illustrations and messages. E Saravanapavan, a contester from the Northern District carries out his election propaganda through his Facebook page. The page contains photographs, illustrations and news items with regard to the election activities.
Harin Fernando’s Facebook page is updated with videos, photographs and news items of election rallies, while Sarath Fonseka’s Facebook page is regularly updated with photo albums and messages. Rosy Senanayake maintains a Facebook page that is updated with photographs and video clips. This account had not been updated since 2011, but has been used for election propaganda activities since the early half of this year.
Johann Fernando, who is another leading candidate for the elections, has a Facebook page that is mainly updated with photographs and video clips. The page has over 1000 Likes. A Facebook group has also been set up, to further widen the reach of the propaganda activities. The group is updated daily by supporters, who post photographs and illustrations related to the campaigning. The group has gathered over 350 members so far. When all other candidates resort to setting up Facebook pages, it is noteworthy that a Group has been set up for the propaganda activities. One could argue that setting up a Group, in addition to a page, allows the administrators to engage closely with their fans and supporters.
When considering political parties, only United National Party seems to have an active presence on social media platforms. Both Facebook and Twitter pages are updated daily with photographs and videos of recent rallies and other election related propaganda. The posts, which provide an overall view of the election campaign activities, attract high numbers of Likes and comments.
Overall, it is evident that not all politicians who have active social media pages are focused on campaigning on social media platforms. Only those who are contesting and are involved with the upcoming elections are using social media for propaganda activities. Other politicians were found to post occasional updates about their political activities on their pages.
The political campaigning on social media pages seem to attract a high level of fan feedback. Such signs would be an enormous encouragement for any political party or politician, enabling them to engage in social media even more. It also gives the message that all other parties and politicians should embrace social media marketing for their political activities. It could result in increased popularity, exposure and votes.