There is a saying in Hindi, “When you are having bad times, good actions also fall apart.” Same is the story of our current arrogant government that went on a rampant blocking of social media accounts in the name of hate speech and then all of a sudden talks about democratization of information.
The government, that considers social media as another Pakistan, thought of doing something cool by organizing the ‘first ever government press meet’ on Twitter. The man chosen for the mission was Satyanarayan Gangaram Pitroda aka Sam Pitroda, advisory to Indian Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations. The sad part was that the man chosen to tweet and engage with the youth of India, had last tweeted in the month of June and this reflected in the chat.
On his maiden suicidal attempt, the poor guy was fumbling on Twitter and we know how within minutes you can become a butt of jokes on it. Some may say, it is a bold move and a positive move, but sorry to say this – it was a half-baked attempt without giving any thoughts on the execution. And in the attempt of doing the first ever cool thing, it turned out to be a flop show.
First rule: don’t ‘COPY’ trends
In social media, what works for me will never work for you. Similarly, you can’t reincarnate the magic of Obama on Reddit or you can’t be like Mamata Banerjee on Facebook and for that matter you can’t achieve what Narendra Modi has done with his social media activities. So the Government of India should stop the ongoing catching up on social media and think of doing things genuinely. Show some intent to the people for them to trust you.
Second rule: don’t make the mistakes again and again
Don’t think that I am not an Indian by heart. I was really excited when I saw the Indian PMO jumped onto social media last year. Not only that I was also aware about the Governments intent to create a social media policy in the later part of the year. I was hoping that with all this and the babus making foreign trips for getting trained in social media, will help them to be rock stars on social media.
But alas! the hiring of Mr. Pankaj Pachauri’s appointment, as PM’s Communication Adviser was not fruitful and the Governments social media presence was nothing much but an online journal of our dear PM’s activities. Interestingly, the parody accounts became a hit and created such a tension that strategies were being chalked as how to block them.
Third rule: choose the right social network
To be a hit on social media, along with clear objective and defined content, you should also choose the networks wisely. One can learn this from Narendra Modi, he smartly chose a medium where he can not only regulate the content but deliver too. In doing so, he not only had a one-to-one dialogue but also made a personal connect with common people who were based in India and internationally too.
When was the last time we saw an Indian politician talking to the common man on air, excluding the elections? There were voices that said he took only the positive questions but credit must be given to the fact that he had smartly chosen a network and the promotions about his Google+ Hangout were going on from a month before. So there has always been a clear strategy with Narendra Modi’s social media presence but our Government has always been caught on back foot.
Our Government chose Twitter for a chat but you can’t control the intensity of the discussions that happen on the network. Twitter is a one-to-one conversation network primarily and it was certain that people would ask some tough questions. A successful Twitter chat needs to have a structured format and a more streamlined approach. It was bad to see that Sam was dodging some of his questions.
— Karthik G.K. (@beingNOMAD) September 25, 2012
Result/ROI of the Twitter Chat
If we look at it from Sam’s eyes, then the set of tweets (in descending order) sums it all up.
But then the truth is also that he even dodged replying to tweeps that were in response to his tall statements made on Twitter.
No one doubted intention @pitrodasam but some answers showed a distinct disconnect between reality and policy – that’s disturbing!
— Devjyot Ghoshal (@DevjyotGhoshal) September 27, 2012
So for me, this was another wasted effort and after a year the Government is still in two minds of adopting or distancing itself from social media. It is really funny to see how social media has become a tough nut for the government to crack. I wished if they could have looked at social media as a medium of conversations with citizens then may be the result of this Twitter chat would have been different.
So dear Government, please don’t attempt your media interaction on Twitter again (If you plan to do so, then try using some Twitter apps like Hootsuite or TweetChat so that your life becomes easy while you answer questions). It is better to do it in a closed room where you invite your “yes men”. Twitter is a place for free-flowing opinions and here you only survive if you are genuine to yourself and your community.
There is no place to hide on Twitter!