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Sunday, 16 October 2011

Anna protests took the virtual world by storm

NEW DELHI: Without social media, Anna Hazare's anti-corruption temblor in August could have lost some of its intensity on the political Richter scale. Social media trends for the protest duration - August 14-31 - reveal that the popularity of Anna's campaign touched a record high on, the biggest social networking site.

Altogether, the fortnight generated 304 million page impressions (views) on Facebook for news feeds related to the protest. Of these, 1.9 million news feeds were endorsed by users with 'likes' while 0.33 million comments were logged on the page of Indian Against Corruption (IAC), the organization leading the campaign. These overwhelming numbers indicate the support for the campaign among the Net-savvy middle class.

Based on the data for IAC's Facebook page, , when Anna Hazare was arrested on August 16, 17.8 million page impressions were registered for news feeds with 209,194 active users, 159,053 'likes' of the feeds and 35,041 comments.

As per, which monitors Facebook trends, the campaign-related page was amongst the most visited in August . For the whole month, the IndiACor page got 3.3 million Booshaka points. This made it the leader among almost all the Facebook pages in the world. IndiACor was ahead of Facebook pages for Manchester United, WWE, Joyce Meyer ministries, Cristiano Ronaldo and Barack Obama .

Explaining Booshaka's significance , Himanshu Tripathi, a senior Internet professional, said, "It is a social media monitoring tool which analyses and gives points based on engagements on brand pages" .

Another good measure of the campaign's popularity on Facebook is provided by EdgeRank, a weighting system that determines which updates figure prominently on news feeds. The EdgeRank score for IndiACor was 23 for entire August and 21 for September, which was excellent . "The EdgeRank score looks into the logic of why a story is on top of Facebook, and any score above 20 is considered excellent ," said Cyril Gupta, IT entrepreneur .

But a section of social media experts is of the opinion that the high fan following of a page does not always translate into ground-level activism. Also, data for 'likes' can be inflated. "Such numbers are hard to believe and the number of likes can be manipulated. But even then the fan following of the IAC page is significant and this definitely shows the impact of the movement on social media. At the same time, the role of traditional print and electronic media cannot be ruled out. Facebook has a high penetration in India as it is available on mobile phones," said social media expert Vikram Singh, who works with the consultancy Grey Matters.

According to a study on IAC's Facebook page, around 4.8 million 'non-unique' (repeat visitors to the website counted each time) users participated in the movement at the ground level at some point of time during the fortnight.


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