The poorly timed Petrol Price hike by the Government of India is a good case study in Social Media Monitoring to effect Political DecisionsJust a day after India's incumbent UPA - 2 Government completed three years in office, the oil marketing companies went berserk with a 10% + increase in petrol prices.This hike is the highest ever, both in absolute and percentage terms. @sardesairajdeep of CNN IBN rightly termed this Government move as deceit. While we could debate the politics, this post focuses on the Social Media Monitoring lessons that the UPA - 2 Government can learn from the fallout of the Petrol Price Hike.Social Media Monitoring - How did Social Media respond to the Petrol Price Hike ?For the sake of this post, we assume that the UPA - 2 Government is savvy, smart and sensitive; sensitive to the daily hardships faced by India's common citizens. Therefore, it would have attempted to find out what the People of India are saying about the Petrol Price Hike.It is logistically impossible to measure the reaction in the traditional media of Print, TV and Radio. It can be at best qualitative and not quantitative. For a quantitative and credible assessment of the Public Response to the Petrol Price Hike, the Government could take a look at Social Media Monitoring. A number of available Social Media Monitoring Tools can help the Government see what the common man is saying with respect to the Petrol Price Hike. After all, Social Media is the only tool with the common man to air his happiness and displeasure.To support the Government of India in this endeavour, we are happy to present a brief snapshot of what happened in Social Media post the announcement of the Petrol Price Hike. We used Topsy as the Social Media Monitoring Tool to track the keyword "Petrol". And this is what we found.

Analysis from Topsy on the Keyword "Petrol" and "Petrol Hike"

Topsy is a Social Media Monitoring Tool that tracks the requested keyword across Twitter and Google Plus. We found that the keyword "Petrol" saw

  • 14,000 tweets in the last one day [23rd and 24th May, 2012] (approximately 600 tweets per hour)
  • 3,000 tweets in the last four hours
  • 700 tweets in the last hour as we write this post

Keyword "Petrol" on Twitter - 17th to 23rd May 2012

Social Media Monitoring Mentions from Petrol Price Hike

Twitter Mentions on 23rd (from 5 PM ) and 24th (till 5 PM) May 2012

The above graphs suggest that though the drama has peaked out, the momentum and velocity on Petrol Price Hike continues to be intact. But the real question is whether the UPA - 2 Government understands this ?

Government : The Lesson and the Response

As a smart and savvy Government, UPA - 2 could take the following lessons from this event:-

  • Active participation by "People of India" - The credible outburst on the numerous Social Media Marketing Services channels is testimony to the fact that People of India can speak and speak out LOUD. It is a great opportunity for the Government to learn from the feedback, so that it can take sensitive decisions rather than unnecessary populous ones.
  • Pilot Tests on Sensitive Matters - Price rise has become a chronic problem. Indians across economic strata have been struggling with it for the last three to four years. Any Government decision that fuels price rise further like the Petrol Price Hike, has to be approached sensitively rather than abruptly. The Government could use Social Media as a test bed for such sensitive decisions. e.g. In the Petrol Price Hike case, the Government could have tested the mood of the people to arrive at the proper quantum of hike. Social Media with its hundreds of influencers and journalists would have happily played a role in preparing the Country for the Petrol Price Hike.

But, rightly puncturing our assumption of a smart Government, the Ministry of Petroleum is nowhere to be found on Social Media. Even worse, the Minister In Charge was not even in India, when this hike was effected. Now coming to the Prime Minister whose office made a grand entry into Twitter few months ago. As you can see from one of the graphs above, unsurprisingly @PMOIndia has been silent on this matter. Funnily, the last tweet from @PMOIndia is the UPA Report Card to the People. Seems, it is now time for a Summer Vacation !

We welcome strong views on this subject matter. Jai Hind !This blog post is brought to you by Inbound Mantra - a Data Driven Inbound Marketing Agency.