Communicating for Governance: Raheel Khursheed

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Raheel Khursheed, Head of News, Government and Politics, Twitter India

From a generic communications platform to a series of specialised adaptations like Make in India emoji and Twitter Samvad, Twitter is evolving both in technology and usage. Raheel Khursheed, Head of News, Government and Politics, Twitter India, talks about this ensuing Twitter transformation

In what all ways Twitter is being adapted for effective Communications for Governance

It is interesting to note that the governments are among the first to have understood the impact of social media. With primary focus on a digitally connected India, our country’s government is very well connected with the people through Twitter today. Realising its potential, majority of the governments have integrated the social media platform in their governance plans. Digital Governance has been high on the agenda of the Modi Government since the start of his campaigning for the general elections. PM Modi launched his visionary Digital India programme on Twitter using Periscope. His ambitious campaigns like #MakeInIndia, #SwachBharat, #MannKiBaat and #SefieWithDaughter are some examples of how the Prime Minister has used Twitter to reach and connect with the citizens for development and progress.

Available in more than 35 languages, Twitter has more than 320 million monthly active users. India was the fastest growing market for us in 2014. In the last one year, we have seen a number of interesting engagements and moments on Twitter, for instance PM Modi’s (@narendramodi) ‘Selfie with Daughter campaign’, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) when during the Yemen crisis used Twitter to help a mother and her 8-month-old son.

These are some examples of how the platform is connecting communities across the world and how the power of social media is being utilised to its best.

What all new features has Twitter introduced for Government of India initiatives?

Twitter continues to play the role of central conversation platform when it comes to politics and elections in India. Governments increasing engagement on Twitter is very evident from the recent Bihar election campaigns on the platform (#BiharElections, #BiharResults). These elections showcased how Twitter provides front row access to unfolding conversations. With 1.2 million Tweets over the election month, Twitter proved to be the place to see the breaking news, to discuss a diverse range of topics, and to watch the political heat wave rise as the campaigns unfolded.

Recently, PM Narendra Modi’s umbrella initiative #MakeInIndia, one of the largest economic development initiatives planned by the government, became the first non-US brand to launch its own Twitter emoji to a worldwide audience. The #MakeInIndia emoji symbolises the success of the brand campaign on Twitter with nearly 500 million impressions this year to promote India as a great place for foreign direct investment to transform the country into a global manufacturing hub.

In March last year, we started working with the government’s Digital India initiative through a service we call Twitter Samvad that enables any Indian with a mobile device to receive real-time information from their political leaders and government organisations. A simple missed call to an assigned phone number for each government partner means you will be able to receive each Tweet from the partner as an SMS, even if you are offline.

What differentiates Twitter from other Social Media Platforms?

At Twitter, our mission is to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers. We’ve seen growing momentum from brands and agencies to use Twitter to connect with their audiences in real- time for major events as well as everyday moments in India. By including ‘Twitter for Business’, the platform has enabled brands to leverage both its strategic limits and new features to drive campaigns and regular conversations.

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