It is election time and politicians want to keep their reputation intact, at least in the virtual world.
So, they are hiring various agencies for Online Reputation Management (ORM). These agencies, known as online marketing firms, manage the results of search engines such as Google and Bing in such a way that "all negative information" about a client is pushed down while positive ones are pushed up.
Not just that, these agencies work around the clock to "counter" negative comments/remarks against their clients on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter by posting "aggressive positive replies" to change the trend in favour of the client.
Services do not stop here. Politicians can pay to have more followers on Twitter, increase "likes" on Facebook pages, get more "views" to their YouTube videos and more people to visit their websites. A few firms provide additional services like writing speeches, handling public relations and media strategy.
Webeats, a leading firm in Mumbai, has been catering to several political clients across the state for close to a year now. "It is a recent trend that has picked up in the past one year. Handling 'online image' is an absolute necessary in this age of social media," Shockey Malik, director of Webeats, said.
Amardeep Bajpai, CEO of Webisdom, another leading online marketing firm, claimed to have handled several crucial political clients during the December assembly elections in four states.
He said ORM is particularly a necessity for candidates contesting in "urban belts". "You cannot expect voters living in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore to attend political rallies to know their candidates," he said. "Social media is the most effective way to catch up with a large number of urbane voters."
Ali Shaikh, co-founder of Jazzap Digital, online/digital marketing agency in Mumbai, said his political clients use the medium to monitor the general trend about themselves.