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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

Digital diplomacy: Modi and the art of trending, garnering ‘likes’ and ‘followers’

Vishakha Saxena , Hindustan Times   September 02, 2014
First Published: 16:28 IST(2/9/2014) | Last Updated: 16:39 IST(2/9/2014)

If Narendra Modi wants, he has all the knowledge and inside view required to write a bestseller on how best to use the social media, a platform he made a priority long before hitting the Lok Sabha campaign trail.

His priority hasn't changed after his sweeping victory and prime ministership. In fact, his love for Twitter and Facebook only seems to be growing along with the band of people tracking him online.

With more than six million followers on Twitter and over 20 million 'likes' on Facebook, the PM’s social media presence is getting stronger by the day.

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And, at a time when digital diplomacy has become a new trend of sorts, Modi follows and is followed by heads of states across the world on Twitter.

Take a look at Modi's three most retweeted tweets since May 26:


From condolences to Ganesh Chaturthi greetings to posting details of his daily activities, the PM is at his expressive best on Twitter. He even used Twitter to invite suggestions from readers.

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Recently, PM Modi tweeted in Japanese and explained how "friends from Japan" asked him "to talk to the people of Japan directly in Japanese". Such tweets have played a major role in boosting his popularity across the world.

The PM also received a lot of appreciation for tweeting his condolence on the death of writer UR Ananthamurthy, one of his most vocal critics.

It is not, however, a one-way praise traffic online for the PM. He has been criticised for keeping mum on certain crucial developments such as the alleged rape and murder of two cousins in Badaun, the murder of a young techie from Pune over a derogatory but fake Facebook post and the abduction of Indian construction workers by ISIS militants in Iraq.

The PM’s social media drive is relentless. His statements are regularly posted on his official Facebook page, along with pictures and photo galleries from his foreign visits.


His Google Plus page is also quite popular, with more than 1.7 million followers and over 146 million views at last count.

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Interestingly, the PM's social media activities are not restricted to Twitter and Facebook. He has a dedicated YouTube account, as does PMO India.

The YouTube account has almost every speech given by the PM, short videos of him meeting various dignitaries and separate channels dedicated to separate events.

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PMO India has separate Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus accounts as well.

But Modi's social media strategy is not limited to just him and his office. He has pushed his ministers as well to open Twitter accounts to encourage interaction and transparency, which he promotes.

Various ministers have made their way to Twitter and set up accounts for their ministries as well.

This idea of digital diplomacy is so ingrained that even the board outside the deputy secretary at the ministry of external affairs reads #DigitalDiplomacy.

The picture went viral on Twitter and won the Modi government accolades.

However, Modi and his government’s buzzing social media life is not really good news for everyone.

As HT reported in August, journalists are having a tough time talking to officials in PMO India. When looking to confirm, counter or substantiate information, journalists are directed to the PM’s speeches, press statements and Twitter feed.


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