“Time to unfollow the PMO on Twitter.” proclaims Anant Rangaswami on Firstpost
@PMOIndia, the Official Twitter account of the Indian Prime Minister’s office, has been live all of 24 hours on Twitter.
“…few days on Twitter, do you think the Government’s been effective?” asks Sunetra Choudhry on NDTV
It’s just been a few ‘hours’ more since @PMOIndia went live…
We are living in trigger-happy times, and comments like above aren’t making life easier for the newly appointed ‘Communications Adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office’, Pankaj Pachauri , who is now managing engagement strategy for one of India’s least vocal Prime Ministers.
To begin with, there were a total of 3924 mentions of @PMOIndia on twitter between 23-25 January tells me our internal study (using Radian6). Many of the comments, as expected, were jocular and humorous in nature (the jokes and parody have been around for a while now), but it wasn’t a bad start at all as they helped get the word out, and as I write this post, the account has in excess of 30,000 followers (and growing).
But the task has only just begun.
Announcements and pictures of PM’s engagement in 3rd person might have worked for charismatic leaders of the 80s and 90s in the TV age, they doesn’t cut ice with the Twitterati, already used to having one-on-one conversations with the elite – no star dust here, certainly not where politicians are concerned (in fact, to the contrary – ask Omar Abdullah).
Some people argue that it may not be feasible for the PM to be using a real-time tool like Twitter himself (at least just yet), and that even US President Obama has a team managing his Twitter account for him (when he does tweet himself, they are signed BO). But engagements like Twitter chats Townhall @ White House have allowed him to engage the nation and understand key issues on people’s mind and it is ‘these’ periodic, timed, high-impact interventions that the Indian PMO should be looking at to drive the initiative.
While one could argue that the decision to launch the @PMOIndia Twitter handle could have been thought through better; context and purpose established through some introductory communication, it’s only a start and it could still be done. Authentic listening and choice of correct ‘tone’ might make all the difference.
What is clear though is the irreverence and candidness with which people are dealing with their PM is a sign of times to come for Indian politics and governance – Days or ‘rule’ are gone. It’s now ‘management’ and pro-active ‘engagement’. Amen to that.
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