“In that sense Gandhi was pro-Modi”

By our correspondent, Ahmedabad, 30 June 2013

“They first ignore you, then mock you, then fight with you and finally you win, this is what Mahatma Gandhi had said. Now, these days Modi supporters on Twitter are described as abusive and idiots by a section of people. So first Modi supporters were ignored, now they are called abusive, the next step could be victory, and in that sense Gandhi was pro-Modi.”

Founder of Faking News, Rahul Roshan said this today in Ahmedabad while addressing Mashable Social Media Day event in Ahmedabad organized by Open hours in association with Simulations and webChanakya.

The logic of anti-NaMo brigade that NaMo friends are abusive is strange, Rahul said. He said the mainstream media shall need to adjust with social media, and it will not be other way round.

“I don’t blame people on social media like mainstream journalists. If there are abusive people, I have a button to block them. Why complain?”

He said, “there’s nothing like social media vs mainstream media, in fact the social media has become mainstream media for persons like me. The issue is new media vs old media.”

“The old school of journalism had no feedback mechanism. If there were letters to editors, they were about menace of street dogs barking, or lamp post not repaired or drainage pipe leakage. There was no letter to editor calling that your reporter is moron or the editor doesn’t make sense. It was a basketised version of feedback. But with twitter and blogs you can’t escape anymore. The journalism of editorial dictation shall not work,” he said.

He said, unlike the practice in mainstream journalism, on twitter platform, everyone is equal. “You are not looking down while conversing with somebody on twitter.”

However Anurag Batra, Editor in Chief , exchange4media had another opinion. He said the content on social media is not content. The social media is a distribution platform, it’s a pipeline. People will continue to rely on brands when it comes to news delivery.

When a chit was passed to Rahul Roshan to conclude his speech in next five minutes, Rahul in reaction said, “two out of rest five minutes should be spent for two minute silence for death of (old school of ) journalism.”

But contrary to this Mr. Batra said that old school of journalism shall also continue to exist.He gave an example of language newspapers that enjoy excellent hold with deep penetration. Mr. Batra accepted the power of social media, and showed a video of the song ‘ the day the media died’, but at the same time he was of opinion that people would continue to go to their choice of brand, because hones for information because honesty is in scarecity.

Dezin Brainz CEO Akshay Sethia in his presentation described Modi as the first politician who started taking advantage of social media penetration. Sethia praised Modi’s social media savviness. He said Obama’s presence is on much higher scale on social media compared to Modi, but Rahul is even far behind. “The difference between the level of Obama’s social media reach and Modi’s social media reach is equal to Modi’s social media reach and Rahul Gandhi’s social media reach.”

Reacting to Sethia’s this remark, Rahul Roshan pointed out that it was not Modi, but Mr. Shashi Tharoor who first took advantage of social media as a politician. Rahul recalled how his Faking News website got momentum on internet. ” I wrote a faking interview of Shashi Tharoor and passed it on to Tharoor’s then assistant. Tharoor tweeted it and I got a great boost through twitter. Then I tweeted that I would not write any faking piece on celebrity that follows me on twitter, and Shashi Tharoor followed me and tweeted that with this he qualifies as celebrity. Tharoor was following only 7-8 people, and when he followed me, I started getting many followers.”

While speaking to DeshGujarat on the sidelines of the event, Mr. Batra said that he was admirer of Shashi Tharoor as a politician available on social media. He said, “one would like to follow a person on social media, who has something interesting to say. You like to meet and talk to an interesting person after all, and same taste applies online. People follow Modi because he is interesting. I follow Shashi Tharoor because his life has been full of interesting things. It is one thing to get followers, but then for ultimate connection with them, you need to deliver interesting content.”

When asked about Rahul Gandhi’s absence on Twitter, Batra was of opinion that every leader should be on twitter including Rahul Gandhi. He said Modi is connecting himself directly to the people through social media which is good, but it seems he may peak too early, while Rahul is most probably waiting for proper period before the elections to come to social media.

Batra who was apparently an admirer of Shashi Tharoor, said that while Shashi tweets for himself, Modi has hired others to tweet for him, and it makes different.

In reference to Indian political scenario and social media’s role, Akshay Sethia said that social media would impact more than 150 Lok Sabha seats. He said these are the seats where more than 10% voters are available on social media, or number of people matching to the number of victory margin are located there. Sethia said there are more than 250 seats where social media has no impact at all on politics. Sethia said he asks politicians not to worry about negative feedback on their social media account. Any criticism should be treated as feedback on own weaknesses, he said. Sethia said it is an art to convert likes on Facebook into the votes in elections.

However Mr. Batra was of opinion that likes do convert into the votes. Mr. Batra said that the total advertising budget in India is around Rs. 30,000 crore, out of which the online media gets the share of only 4 per cent.

Rahul Roshan said he gets 60% traffic on his website through Twitter and Facebook. He said he had spent only 100 dollar on Facebook for his site’s promotion over there. Batra believed that online advertisement are clicked very less. However Pratik Shah of Greensmyles was of opinion that targeted local online ads offer results. Shah said there’s no overnight success on social media.