Alternate mobilisation: PTI’s secret weapon - their social media team

Published: January 18, 2014
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PTI chairman Imran Khan. PHOTO: PPI

PTI chairman Imran Khan. PHOTO: PPI

PESHAWAR: The roots of what is now the most politically active party on the internet can be traced back to two people with a cell phone and a camera. Kamran Bangash and Asfandyar launched the official social media page for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in 2008 and now manage several interactive medium pages on the internet with their very own creative team.

In an interview with The Express Tribune, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Social Media Secretary Kamran Bangash claims they started mobilising people, especially the youth, by sending mobile text messages. Considered the pioneers of PTI’s social media network, a team of 15 young professionals now run the party’s various social media pages without a centralised office.

 photo KamranBangash_zpsd257f264.jpg

“The toughest thing was to make the party leadership understand the importance of social media,” said Bangash. He adds the team lacks female members owing to continuous journeys, law and order situation and the Pukhtun culture.

“This is something we do voluntarily. We do not need benefits and have never asked for them,” he said, adding all 15 members are working men or students who support their families at the same time.

“One of our team members, Asfandyar, and I had to skip our annual exams to give live coverage to “Parho aur Zindagi Badlo” – an enrolment drive that covered 356 public-sector schools,” Bangash said, adding 8,000 people around the globe visited the live page.

Bangash recalled that covering the Swabi political rally two years ago was his toughest assignment, since the national and international media was depending on the team to cover the event. He said the only thing they could do was to live stream the address of PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

“As we do not have top-notch resources at our disposal, after covering an event, we look for the nearest place to upload data and we have found internet cafés to be the best places,” said team member Asfandyar.

“The October 30, 2011 Lahore rally, which served as a springboard for PTI before the general elections, took four days to prepare, but in the end our hard work paid off,” said Asfandyar, adding it is difficult to take on such big events simultaneously with their private lives, but they are somehow able to manage. “We travel to far-flung areas for coverage where sometimes there is no electricity, let alone an internet connection, like when we marched to South Waziristan. But we make arrangements and are able to manage,” he said.

The team members claimed they were approached by a political party to run its internet pages on a handsome salary, but they refused the offer.

The party is infamous for its online presence and members are often criticised for online harassment of those who speak or write against the party. The party’s online footprint also misled analysts before the general elections who believed the same would translate into street power.

The team’s central secretary Imran Ghazali said the party follows an online code of conduct and the social media provides a forum to the party’s followers to express their feelings. Moreover, the party’s mammoth online presence was said to have forced the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz to follow suit with Maryam Nawaz Sharif making and actively operating a Twitter account to represent the party on social media.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • Fida Ahmed Advocate
    Jan 18, 2014 - 10:04AM

    PTI is a lovable party because its members, under the leadership of Imran Khan, love the country and its people. Hence these ‘unbelievable stories’ of unpaid volunteers. I would love to meet them and pay them rich tributes for their sincere services they have rendered for me, my fellow countrymen….Recommend

  • Moazzam Salim
    Jan 18, 2014 - 10:17AM

    In my opinion after their initial success the ‘Internet Team’ of PTI has actually brought a negative image to the Party. The trolling and abusive language that PTI members use against any person who is against the PTI ideology means that right now very few ‘genuine’ net users actually like the PTI net tactics.

    Recommend

  • Irfan
    Jan 18, 2014 - 10:43AM

    No wonder PTI is called an Internet party.

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  • m
    Jan 18, 2014 - 10:53AM

    If only this kind of dedication and mobilization of people was for countering extremism, Pakistan would be a better place today. What’s more important after all: countering extremism or publicity drives for PTI?

    Recommend

  • Hassan
    Jan 18, 2014 - 11:06AM

    PML(N) doesn’t know any thing beside copy paste. No genuine thinking what so ever

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  • Aysha M
    Jan 18, 2014 - 11:31AM

    @Hassan:
    But they have the most qualified leader, since last evening at least. He is now Dr. Nawaz Sharif

    Recommend

  • Jan 18, 2014 - 3:17PM

    Good luck PTI workers.PTI is proud of guys like you. Keep up the good work.Recommend

  • A Khan
    Jan 18, 2014 - 5:00PM

    What the PTI media team achieved in such a short time is truly amazing. It proves that with true dedication anything is possible. Its only a matter of time before other political parties catch up and take things to a new level. Hopefully more intellect and less dirt but i doubt it. The rest of the process of how to best utilize the social media presence, is going to take time and a lot of trial-and-error. If the leadership and the volunteers can understand the full potential and make a proper strategy, it will give PTI a major boost.Recommend

  • Saleem
    Jan 18, 2014 - 6:22PM

    So all style and no substance. Just like the leader who is always complaining and moaning about everything.Recommend

  • Nehmat
    Jan 18, 2014 - 6:49PM

    The social media may not have good conversion now but with time and higher penetration it will get more effective. I was amazed how social media was used by PTI specially IK, PTI and Usman Dar’s accounts. They were able to build solid base using proper teams instead of non preofessional help.

    Recommend

  • Jan 18, 2014 - 7:47PM

    I don’t think giving up Annual Exams for the Party is a good step to promote literacy.Recommend

  • Mirza
    Jan 19, 2014 - 2:06AM

    If one gauges the popularity of a party by their social media teams then Mush should have been the most popular leader and not fighting to save his skin. It were his social media friends and trolls that made him think he is going to be very popular in Pakistan. However, when the time came not even a few thousand people came on the street. This is a lesson for all those who depend upon and gauge their popularity from the Internet.
    Pakistan is a rural country with 70% farmers. They have nothing to do with social media but most of them do vote. This was evident in May 2013 election results.

    Recommend

  • AAV
    Jan 19, 2014 - 11:09AM

    PTI is present only on facebook and social media. They have lost their hold in even KPK. It is a failed party.

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Jan 19, 2014 - 4:47PM

    Creative team? They have only one statement and that is “Imran is the only hope”. They should know that hope is not a good strategy.

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  • Rehana
    Jan 20, 2014 - 10:27AM

    Media Cell of PTI is busy in hiding the failure of KPK government. Nothing truth is shown by this media team.

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  • MAQ
    Jan 20, 2014 - 11:15AM

    Though the scale on social media does not reflect the actual popularity but still the efforts of PTI social media team are recognizable and deserve applause.

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  • Hassan
    Jan 20, 2014 - 2:08PM

    @Ch. Allah Dad

    They made you, a PML(N) supporter, memorise at least one statement of PTI. I say a job well done. Recommend

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