“Just setting up my twttr” – This was the first post put up on Twitter, the popular social media service, on 21, March 2006 by its co-founder Jack Dorsey. Twitter has now completed six years and has become a popular platform for people to ‘tweet’ about the latest happenings. Updated statistics released by the portal shows that it has 140 million active users and receives as many as 340 million tweets on an average, every day.
One of the most popular and active groups on Twitter, are politicians.
Politicians in India are not exactly comfortable when it comes to using technology, save for a handful of the urbane and suave, well-educated generation next leaders. Most of them know Twitter is a platform where they will get a ready audience 24X7 and that is what drives most of them to use Twitter.
Some of the distinct traits of Twitter usage by politicians are:
- Posting a Comment for Public Circulation and Garnering Opinion
Politics cannot run on a single opinion. Twitter offers the perfect platform for politicians to know the majority opinion of their constituency on matters of local interest.
- Understanding the Pulse of the People
Shashi Tharoor says that he received a lot of complaints on Twitter about inefficiency in passport offices. This could be because he is the politician of a state where almost every family has at least one member working in the Middle East. Here, Twitter helped him understand one of the biggest problems of his people and take faster steps to correct the inadequacy.
- Spreading the Word about Work Done
Politicians use Twitter to keep their constituency updated about the various development projects they have taken up. It is a good way to let people know they are working hard.
- Showing their ‘Other Side’
Politicians who tweet about things other than their daily political schedules and activities are popular because people perceive them as one of their own. It is also a great platform to show their lighter side to their followers.
- Transparency in Official Matters
People want the conduct of their leaders to be transparent and twitter offers elected representatives an opportunity to tell things as it is. It gives people the chance to judge the efficiency and honesty of their leaders.
- Create a 24X7 Communications Channel
People feel assured by the fact that they can take their issues to their leaders directly, anytime they want to, through twitter. It creates a 24X7 communication channel and gives easy access to your leaders, virtually.
- Making News Go Viral
Twitter offers politicians a great way of spreading news especially when it has to be done quickly and correctly. Getting news directly from ‘the source’ has its own advantages.
- To Project the Image of a Techie Politician
Twitter is the perfect way for politicians to connect with the youth of their constituencies. It helps them identify and mingle with them on a virtual platform and close the distance.
- Planning Well Developed Campaigns for Specific Tasks
Twitter helps politicians place their views on matters critical to their constituency before the general public as they would for an offline campaign. It is a fantastic way to canvass support for funds and votes as well.
- Remaining Connected with the Media
Media is on the lookout for quotes from popular politicians and latches on to the interesting ones pretty quickly to put on their channels. Twitter helps politicians remain connected directly with the media.
Twitter usage can be refined through use of various resources. Most politicians, however, have not yet tapped into its full potential. Hopefully, they will learn to use this incredible communication tool to improve the politician-voter disconnect.