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#FutureProof: Whither @PMOIndia handle on Twitter in May?

05-March-2014
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#FutureProof: Whither @PMOIndia handle on Twitter in May?

“If you’re famous, I don’t – for the life of me – understand why any famous person would ever be on Twitter,” George Clooney had said recently. “Because first of all, the worst thing you can do is make yourself more available, right? Because you’re going to be available to everybody.”

Clooney also felt that it’s just too easy for celebrities to tweet 140 characters and end up regretting it.

I think the Hollywood legend is 100 per cent right – and it doesn’t matter to me that Amitabh Bachchan or Aamir Khan, his counterparts in our own entertainment industry, are on the social media micro blogging site.

Most celebrities forget that each tweet is archived. Or the fact that engaging a professional handler is just as hazardous.

For them, Clooney has the following sage counsel, “One drunken night, you come home and you’ve had two too many drinks and you’re watching TV and somebody p****s you off, and you go ‘Ehhhhh’ and fight back. And you go to sleep, and you wake up in the morning and your career is over. Or you’re an a**hole. Or all the things you might think in the quiet of your drunken, unconvinced evening are suddenly blasted around the entire world before you wake up.”

Still? Think Bill Murray and Brad Pitt. They’ve done better keeping themselves unavailable.

As Clooney put it, “For a long time now, Brad has been the biggest movie star in the world. He’s bigger than me, bigger than (Leonardo) DiCaprio. And I really admire how he deals with that. It’s not easy for him. But he tries to be the most honest version of Brad Pitt that he can be. And he also remains unavailable.”

Which brings me to another famous Twitter handle who probably shouldn’t have been there at all, this time in the political sphere.

I refer to @PMOIndia.

I have often wondered if the minders ever got a chance to discuss their editorial strategy with the man on whose behalf they were tapping their fingers.

The result? Wasted effort pushing Press Information Bureau press releases – and no sense of the man behind the mask.

There’s also a branding goof up in the offing – and you heard it here.

What would happen when a new PM takes over in May?

It isn’t simple enough to replace Manmohan Singh’s DP shot with his successor’s.

A tougher call will have to be taken. For example, will @PMOIndia retain all the tweets that have been made in Manmohan Singh’s name?

Surely not, considering there’s one rather avoidable one, where the official Twitter handle of the Prime Minister of India actually said that he’s ready to serve under Rahul Gandhi!

On hindsight, wouldn’t it have been better to think through this and have two handles, like the way they do in the US: a verified one called @BarackObama and a separate one is called @WhiteHouse. This, it’s easy to guess, keeps the next White House incumbent in mind – a reality we didn’t.

So, if Rahul Gandhi wins, he’ll have to inherit the dull and dry 4,000+ tweets that have gone from the @PMOIndia handle so far. Or would he even shut it down?

If Narendra Modi wins, will he retain his popular @NarendraModi handle (NB: unlike Manmohan Singh, he didn’t set up an official handle for ‘Chief Minister of Gujarat’). If so, will NaMo also retain @PMOIndia – and, therefore, embrace the 4,000+ tweets that have been sent out on behalf of Manmohan Singh?

And if it is Arvind Kejriwal, we can only guess!

The columnist has been an editor in print and television. He is an alumnus of Harvard Business School and will write every week at the intersect of media, regulation, law and strategy. Rohit Bansal writes exclusively for exchange4media. Follow him: @therohitbansal.
 

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