As is widely reported, the Gurjarat CM has set the bar for how politicians in India can use social media for their gain. In effectively reaching out to the younger generation who prefer to engage on social media rather than being passive receptors of conventional media, he has vindicated himself as a politician of the 21st century.
We’ll let the numbers do the talking. Set up in 2009, his Facebook and Twitter pages have a massive following of approximately 7,00,000 and 9,00,000 users respectively. With more than 11,000 subscribers and more than 1.5 million total video views, he’s also making the most of YouTube.
Earlier in August, he carried a black profile picture on Twitter to critique the #GOIBlocks episode. And bingo, it served as a double edged sword. He showed his disapproval to the UPA government, and simultaneously became a part of millions of protesting Indians, while receiving his due share of attention in headlines.
Joining the league of US President Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Modi made his debut as the first Indian politician to engage personally with the masses via Google+ Hangout. Such was the turnout on August 31 that Google+ reportedly crashed for 45 minutes and during the collapse, #ModiHangOut was trending top across India through all major cities.
Taking the public interaction further on Saturday, Modi web -chatted with NRIs from across 12 American cities, in favor of allowing NRIs to vote in Indian elections.
Given the sensitive nature of 2002 Godhra riots accusations on him, his initiative to appear on a direct interactive platform was quite courageous. While he has set the bar in terms of Indian leaders on social media, there is still room for improvement in his social media strategy.
4 social media tips for Narendra Modi to keep the youth engaged till 2014
- Increase transparency – The careful omission or “pre-selection” of controversial questions limited the perceived openness of the exercise. This is tricky territory, but ideally an AMA should translate to, literally, ask me ANYTHING. In future sessions, Modi should attempt to make the question submission and selection process more transparent.
- Use a wider net of internet platforms – Using Google+ was a good start, but to establish himself as a social media leader, Modi should look at other, emerging social media platforms that go beyond Facebook and Twitter. Much like Obama did by using Reddit, a new social network will not only help engage a wider audience, but will also help establish tech cred.
- Don’t whitewash comments – The basic point of a social media engagement like the hangout is interaction, and fluid two-way engagement. It is not to sit idle and read through the bunch of positive comments from people who have no disagreement with you. Yes, you want to use social media to fire up your base, but you also want to address criticism, argue your case, and come across as a mature leader who is confident in their own political positions.
- Increase frequency of sessions – The Google+ hangout is a good start, but Modi must maintain this engagement. Instead of resting on the laurels of one successful social media “event,” he should draw a concrete calendar of future sessions. Such recurring activities could help establish him as a leader of the masses, allowing him to implicitly contrast with the central government, who are widely perceived to be out of touch – both online and offline.
Have Google finally found the brand ambassador they were looking for?
Written by Chaahat Madaan for Image Management