Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the most popular politician on Twitter after US President Barack Obama, has successfully used social media to shape his public image as a tech savvy leader, according to new study. Also Read - No, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram will not stop working in India (Not right now)
Modi uses social media as a personal signal than for issues, per se, US-based scholar Joyojeet Pal has said after doing an extensive research of the prime ministers postings on social media websites. Also Read - Pakistan blocks Facebook, Twitter and other social media apps until 3 pm
“Modi has used social media successfully to shape his public image as a tech savvy leader, aligning himself with the aspirations of a younger generation in India,” said Pal, assistant professor at University of Michigan’s School of Information, whose paper has been published in the latest issue of the Television and New Media journal. Also Read - Her Circle content and social media platform launched on the occasion of International Women’s Day
With 12.3 million followers on Twitter, Modi is the world’s No 2 most popular politician in the Twittersphere after Obama. Pal said during his campaign, Modi’s account was more about his political vision. He mentioned national events and festivals and asked celebrities to support causes that appeared larger than his own. In the months leading up to the general elections, he tweeted to a list of some of the most widely followed celebrities, including film stars, cricketers and spiritual figures, urging them to get young voters to register.
According to Pal, Modi has also been quick to adopt the latest tech updates. “For instance, he took advantage of the video feature on Twitter almost as soon as it was available. During his tenure as prime minister, Modi’s tweets have changed. He posts fewer political statements and more casual messages, such as greetings, condolences and updates of his addresses, he added.
“Modi uses Twitter as a personal signal than for issues, per se. For instance, he goes between ‘karyakarta’ to a ‘mai baap style’ (worker to a benign ruler). This is different from say Obama who has kept up with agenda-based tweeting,” Pal said. When comparing to Modi’s popularity with other Indian politicians, the one who comes closest is Shashi Tharoor MP, who has three million followers.
Tharoor’s tweets are different because they are mostly about himself, his daily activities and views on issues. This is not very different from how most people, including celebrities, use Twitter,” Pal said, adding that Modi’s use of social media is part of a broader policy of using technology very visibly. Modi maintains a Facebook page which has 28 million likes, and he also has a ‘Chai pe Charcha,” or “discussion over tea,” campaign in which he chats about national issues over tea with citizens via online video.