The Rise of Mobile Apps in Political Campaigns

It’s all in the power of an icon. A single tap gives access to the politician’s name, earnings, education, religion, affiliated groups, magazines purchased, past e-mails and statements that have been made on previous as well as current political issues. Politics has changed its strategies from the bygone era of reaching out to masses through TV, Radio and Print to a new tool which is here to stay that is the Mobile App.

A mobile app, (a shorter form of mobile application) is application software specifically designed for running on Smartphone’s, tablet computers as well as other mobile devices. Originally offered for general productivity and information, apps were built for basic e-mail, calendar, contacts, stock markets and weather status. With booming popularity, apps rapidly expanded into mobile games, GPS, banking, ticket purchasing, blogs, magazines and much more.

It is available on various Smartphone devices on different platforms such as the Amazon Appstore, Apple’s App Store for iOS, BlackBerry World, Google Play, Nokia Store, Windows Phone Store as well as the Samsung Apps Store.

According to a Gartner survey, there are currently 345 million mobile devices in the United States of America out of which 61% of these use Smartphone’s; and what better way would it be for politicians to gain access to the ones that shape their future – the voters. Politics has now moved to the digital space too with the help of apps.

Social Media has played an important role for this transitioning to have taken place. In the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama’s digital team left no stone unturned. Early voting reminders were sent through text messages, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. In 2012, digital advertising moved a step ahead with the Obama 2012 mobile app.

Powerful sloganeering and campaigning has made its way to social media through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube but a rising number of political parties have started launching apps to enhance open communication and engagement within the political community.

App makers in India, the largest democracy in the world have also latched onto the election bandwagon during the currently ongoing Lok Sabha Elections 2014.

Apps have been developed to help users register for voting, to inform them about the current state of elections and provide them with accurate real time news about the same such as Voter Pulse. An app specifically developed for contesting candidates to connect with their constituents and voters and engage with them to discover what they are thinking about on virtually any issue, at any time, and at any location simply via their mobile devices all in real time. Along with social networking and community engagement, Voter Pulse has a systematic donation feature with a built-in online payment system integration that tracks all live contribution updates. (Click here to know more)

Politicians, first-time voters, citizens, professors, digital media strategists on both the national as well as international level completely support the present and future of political apps. A few reasons as to why:

  • Most importantly, these apps help in generating massive media coverage for the contesting political parties. They are built for attracting media attention as journalists are constantly on the move about their whereabouts and latest developments; on the personal as well as technological front.
  • It’s about being where the voters are. Apps are the latest technological medium where users interact and get their information. Thus reaching out to voters, volunteers as well as donors through apps is the most convenient and reliable form. Also, it powers activism.
  • Political party websites, social media pages and QR Codes have been the latest efforts for publicity and marketing but compared to them, Apps are a more reliable source as they load in seconds as compared to a website, Apps function offline whereas websites don’t, Apps are always visible on the Smartphone’s home screen, they enable push notifications for direct contact with customers, Apps appear in App stores, thus being a better performer than a website.
  • The basis of developing a Political App is to connect, inform, build loyalty, develop a brand image and lastly generate results! (or in other words Return on Investment) Politicians bank upon voters for ensuring their longevity with their support. Thus, Apps that bring supporters on one platform and energize the base of supporters are vital to the politicians for helping them win elections.

Older voters in any nation will still rely on the traditional ways of voting information such as television, newspapers and other mass messaging techniques. But this current digital revolution that has taken place which has evolved to keep up with younger mindsets is here to stay as today’s generation are opinion-makers and these are the people who help in generating a public opinion for the nation.