No matter how hard we argue, but for many of the westerners, India is still a land of the Ganges, Taj Mahal, and mystic men. They have always seen India as a land of spirituality. Many of them visit India to quench their spiritual thirst and find their inner self. But little they know that the mystics they are fascinated about have a long list of followers on Twitter and their Facebook pages have tens of thousands of likes. Social media marketing is in vogue for Indian spirituality.
Welcome to Digital India where Social Media marketing is a new Mantra for the Holy Men!
Gone are the days when the only way to know about the holy men was word of mouth. A problem was finding their abode. Most of the times it used to be far away from the civilisation – in a jungle or a cave. The idea was to be away from the social & emotional attachment to find the inner peace. Obviously, we’re not saying that all the mystic men were in the search of self-realisation.
People are getting more materialistic and brand conscious, and in return, the self-proclaimed gurus too, started developing themselves as a brand. Now when we take a quick look around us (or a quick scroll on a newsfeed) we see so many godmen with their carefully designed social media profiles and online marketing techniques.
Right from the times of Sri Aurobindo, the western world has widely accepted and celebrated Indian spirituality. Till date, a majority of the visitors in Auroville are non-Indians. Osho Rajneesh enjoyed the ‘western-following’ legacy later on, infamously known as the ‘Sex Guru’ of India. Now The Osho International foundation has 2,388,112 likes on Facebook and offers stress management seminars for huge corporate brands like BMW and IBM. Not just social media services & platforms, they have also created an app for body- mind wellness.
Let’s take a look how holy men of India are using social media marketing to stay connected with their devotees around the world.
The famous Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the guru of Dera Sacha Sauda sect is also a famous movie star and credits 3 Hindi movies to his name. His Facebook profile has around 123,246 likes and also has a fully functional website. His fan following made the movie a super hit; even though it was banned in Jharkhand & Chattisgarh. The overall collection of the movie was around 300 Crore. He used social media marketing perfectly to promote his movie.
Known for his bizarre solutions to the problems of his followers, Nirmal Baba’s official FB page has 426,500 Likes. His page and website announce the monthly gatherings and prayer meetings. His videos are published on YouTube channel that has more than 7,000 subscribers. It is assumed that his videos gain more popularity because of the high content of ridiculous solutions he offers to the devotees in the meeting. More people have subscribed to his channel for humour rather than devotion. However, in spite of the weirdness, his followers have a deep-rooted faith in him.
Social court of justice
For godmen, social media is not just branding and connecting with their devotees. When in a problem, these platforms allow them to present their argument / opinions. Their followers take it to the social platforms to voice their opinion in support of their guru.
Since Asaram Bapu was accused of rape and arrested in 2013, his 69.7K followers on twitter are constantly trending hashtags in his support. He too has a Facebook page with 201,394 Likes and Youtube videos.
Radhe Maa is probably the only woman to have a strong presence in this male-dominated field. She was in a fix when a lady filed complaint against her for provoking her in-laws for asking dowry. A lot of people criticised when a video of her dancing on a film song wearing a skimpy red dress went viral. Her website matches her gaudy persona. Social media and other social media marketing techniques keep her followers updated about her whereabouts.
The Power of “LIVE’
The Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar earns a brownie point for his use of going live. His orgnization webcasts his various prayer meetings and events. Thousands of his devotees around the world attended the recent webcast of Navratri Puja. Actively involved in a political and social commentary, he uses Twitter extensively along with Facebook (3,493,614 likes). He enjoys popularity among young urban people with high paying jobs who believe in spirituality, but not religion.
Another Godman, Aniruddha Bapu based in western suburbs of Mumbai is famous mostly in Maharashtrian upper middle class is . His website gives details of his teachings, video / audio recordings, future prayer meetings etc. It is fully-equipped with payment options for events and occasions. They also carry out disaster management classes and you can enroll for them online. E-version of his newspaper is popular just like his Facebook page and online videos.
Along with the official presence on various digital media platforms, their followers also create various pages, profiles, groups on social media that make it tough to escape them on the digital front. They create Instagram profiles; create hashtags and pins on Pinterest. Whatsapp groups propagate the teachings of these Gurus. They also facilitate planning the gatherings / celebrations – city and locality wise.
Still think Social Media not for you?
When the term Digital India started trending, we’re sure above examples were not something you had in mind, did you? But well, now social media is no more an option, but a mandatory part of your digital marketing efforts. No matter what your business is, you can’t escape the necessity of social media. To know more about social media marketing services and how they can benefit your brand,