Pakistan is an intriguing case in political marketing. Its people respond to emotion, and politicians use this in their marketing campaigns, whether through their outdoor advertising billboards and banners, or through televised commercials and increasingly through social media as well. Some also go to the lengths of constructing roads or bridges or other similar infrastructure projects and then naming them after themselves, or the heads of their political parties, to serve as a constant reminder for the public as to who was responsible. Some parties even set up small teams of dedicated party workers and supporters who go from door to door, trying to convince community members to vote for a certain party or leader. As most of these committees contain members of the community being targeted, these campaigns can end up being quite effective. In this day and age, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the commercialisation of TV channels and newspapers has lead to a biased media, with reports being skewed in favor of the political party contributing most to their coffers. As a result, the public has been forced to look for alternate methods for news and information, and so they naturally turned to social media. While the PTI has been using social media to their advantage for quite sometime, the PML-N seemed to enter this market only recently. They have mainly highlighted their past experiences in power, the work that they have accomplished over the years, and their recent struggles The significance of social networking first came to light during the emergency declared by President Musharraf, back in 2007, when he banned all news stations in the country. People in turn took to social media to vent their frustrations and to rally against the doctorial regime ruling over Pakistan at the time. Today, there are 35 million active users of social media in the country, with four million on twitter alone. A quick comparison between the content posted by the two main political parties, the PML-N and the PTI, might give us an interesting insight into the political battle being waged between both sides, online. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf The PTI have used their social media presence quite intelligently and focused on the youth in the country specifically. As a result, they changed their slogan to ‘New Pakistan’, started calling youth volunteers ‘tabdeeli razakar’ (volunteers for change) and set up social media teams whose sole purpose was to promote the party and their mandate to millions of social media users online. On Twitter PTI leader Imran Khan, with his handle @ImranKhanPTI, has the largest number of followers amongst all the political leaders in the country. He usually uses it to update his supporters with his daily life, as well as prominent issues that he feels strongly about. However, he does not engage other people too much, with the PTI’s own official twitter page taking the responsibility to do this instead. Over the past few months both accounts have mainly focused on the upcoming election, as well as their various achievements, along with topics like their performance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the 100 days agenda, improved quality of education in K-P schools, cricket, international politics, national economy and sometimes even quotes from famous personalities. While the PTI has been using social media to their advantage for quite sometime, the PML-N seemed to have entered this market only recently. They have mainly highlighted their past experiences in power, the work that they have accomplished over the years and their recent struggles, painting themselves as the victims of an attack by the establishment. They have also continuously criticised the judiciary for its decision over the impeachment of Nawaz Sharif, as well as their pursuit of the numerous cases against his family. While Nawaz himself does not seem to have a twitter account, others have stepped up in his absence. Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz), Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) and PML-N (@pmln_org) party accounts have been quite active in interacting with the public and keeping them abreast of all the latest news related to the party. While Shahbaz focuses mainly on the Punjab government, and its performance, Maryam focuses on her father’s ongoing cases, as well as the instances of discrimination her family and followers have to allegedly face every day. The latter is in fact the most active member of the Sharif family online, and is constantly in touch with her followers, detractors or any organisations that contact her online. This is why many times she is considered the young new face of the party, instead of Hamza Shahbaz. PML-N’s own page is essentially used to provide updates on the various day to day functions of the party. Recently they have been posting updates on Ms Kulsoom Nawaz’s health, and the various activities taking place within the party in relation to the upcoming elections. It is also used to counter any allegations made by their opposition parties, or to level their own accusations at their many critics. It is evident that Twitter, and other such social media sites have a huge role to play in the upcoming elections. It enables political parties to stay abreast of all the news and developing stories coming out of the country, and to deal with these situations as soon as possible. It is a cheap and effective way to engage a large number of supporters or critics at the same time, and to promote your party ideals and agenda with the voting public. Social media also offers you detailed insights into the way that people react to specific stories or posts, giving you the chance to alter your campaign accordingly. While there is much more that politicians can still accomplish by using this medium, it is clear that Social media is no longer a tool, but a necessity for politics today. The writer is a lecturer at IMS, Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan and a research fellow at the University of Queensland Australia. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter: @Alluring_Will Published in Daily Times, June 28th 2018.