Discussion on emergence of Twitter in storytelling

01 Jul,2015

By Dyanne Coelho


Popular microblogging platform Twitter hosted an interactive and informative conference entitled #RiseWithTwitter highlighting the future of mobile storytelling in India and the emerging uses of the platform. Held in Mumbai on Tuesday (June 30), the event saw a cross-section of mediapersons and well-known personalities talking on the rise of the platform.


For instance, Meghna Pant, Indian literary fiction writer and financial journalist shared an inspiring tale of how she tweeted the Mahabharata in just 100 tweets.


Times Now Editor-in-Chief, Arnab Goswami  joined Rishi Jaitley, Market Director, India and South East Asia in an engaging session to discuss the applications of Twitter in the world of journalism. The Lalitgate hashtag (#Lalitgate) coined by Times Now after the recent expose, has earned 43.2 million tweets in a six-day period, Twitter revealed. “Television gets me an audience five times bigger than digital,” Goswami said but added that both mediums are now working in a complementary fashion. “We’re six years away from a digital explosion,” he said of research and he advised that if you are working in the field of digital, hang in there, things are going to explode with change.


Balu Nair, the creator of the Twitter handle @BloodDonorsIn explained how Twitter as a medium is being used for a cause. If any patient is in dire need of a blood transfusion, the family or friends can tweet at the handle with the requirement. Nair explained that kind souls have even travelled cross city to donate blood to those in need thanks to the handle.


MN Reddi, Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru in the session ‘The Mobile Microphone’ moderated by Mid-Day Editor Sachin Kalbag pointed out the advantages of Twitter for himself as a person of authority and responsibility. People feel safer because they feel connected to the Commissioner and they get immediate responses to their queries and/or complaints, however rumours are still a huge issue in the world of social media, he said. Henry Jenkins, American media scholar and professor of communication and journalism at USC, brought to note that many scandals would not have hit as hard as they did if it depended only on the media. It is the people who have created the buzz on social media and brought issues to light he said. He cited the example of the hashtag #CNNFail a few years back that trended on Twitter, and which was created by the public to express their disappointment of CNN’s coverage of the aftermath of the Iranian election coverage. Sunil Chhetri of the Bengaluru FC football team highlighted the negativity a platform like Twitter brings to him as a player and to sportspersons in general. “When we lose a match, I dread looking at my phone, because the fans tweets are further depressing. So I check them only a day after once I have calmed down,” he explained.


While people like sportspersons or celebrities can afford to wait a day to respond to tweets, brands don’t have that luxury, Deepali Naair, CMO, Mahindra Holidays said. For brands what is important to engage in conversations that matter to people, she said.Abu Mathen George of the Ministry of External Affairs discussed how his team handles multiple Twitter handles to cater to various needs of Indian citizens. Twitter was used extensively to carry out the evacuations of Indians from Yemen, he explained. People could tweet at the handle about their whereabouts and the Ministry would respond with nearest ports or planes for them to get to. A similar strategy was used during the Nepal earthquake. The importance of engaging the audience on a mobile global platform is key, the panelists Manan Mehta, VP, Yash Raj Films, Abu Mathen George of the Ministry of External Affairs and business journalist Shaili Chopra discussed in a session moderated by Anant Goenka, Director of the Indian Express group.


Nitish Tipnis, Director Sales and Marketing, Hover Automotive India, Deepali Naair, and Shivnath Thukral, Group president, Corporate Branding and Strategic Initiatives at Essar engaged in audience  in an interesting discussion on humanising brands on social media. Whether you are a relatively formal brand like Essar, or a fun brand like Mahindra Holidays, it’s all about keeping the conversation casual on a social media platform, yet getting your word across to the right target audience.


“India is one of the leading markets in terms of user base,” Taranjeet Singh, Country Business Head, Twitter India, said. “Growth in India has been phenomenal. We work with over 600 brands and we have recently launched TV targeting as well because we realised that many people tweet about the content they are watching. Twitter India is way ahead of the business plan in terms of revenue,” Singh revealed.


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