Of celebrities and official handles on Twitter

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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.

Narendra Modi Twitter


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.

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