Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter account has been set up finally. I say ‘set up’ because to me (going by the two tweets thus far) it seems to be a medium to broadcast his activities, views (maybe). Nothing wrong in that – several politicians, national leaders and other celebrities are known to have a social media team who tweet on their behalf. Many Twitter folks commented on the handle (@OfficeofRG) as being too aloof & distant, while some saw nothing wrong in the approach. My views on that specific handle and celebrity tweets in general:
Many official posts and offices in Government have active Twitter handles and are used as update broadcasts. Many of them are effective, popular and achieve their objective splendidly. I think @PMOIndia and @WhiteHouse are good examples. No one expects conversations or engagements over there – though I find it baffling that people actually reply with inane comments and abuses in such timelines. I think this approach of ‘broadcasting updates’ or ‘day in the life of’ works best for official positions and offices. I personally feel it doesn’t work that well for individuals with no Govt or official position. There is another approach with official Govt handles – the one where there is engagement & conversation. @MEAIndia and @SushmaSwaraj come to mind – they (or their team) personally interact with followers and solve issues. That is a fantastic approach as it makes the person or the position endearing. It is fraught with risks too – expectations are high after few such interactions and trolls may pile on more (they do anyway otherwise too). In this context, I feel @OffcieofRG sounds pompous, aloof – similar to the ‘From the desk of’ memos of yesteryear.
Proxy tweeting is an art too – there has to be personal touch to it, even if the main objective is to see it as an ‘update broadcast’. I think the team behind @Narendramodi and @PMOIndia are excellent in that aspect. The tweets are a clever mix of meeting updates, personal observations, greetings and comments on global events. I especially loved the series of tweets after #ThankYouPM started trending – they were crafted well, had a personal touch and did not feel like proxy tweeting at all.
Of course, there are no hard and fast rules about how exactly should one approach Twitter updates – especially when it comes to celebrities. The one common trend about celebrity Twitter handles is that engagement or conversation is likely to be zero. I expect the same with the Rahul Gandhi handle too – which is fine. But affinity can be built, one’s personality can shine through even if it is a one-way, ‘here’s what I did, feel’ type updates from celebrity politicians. Not seeing signs of that with the Rahul Gandhi handle or the tweets.