Narendra Modi US visit: Monitoring Donald Trump's super thumb

Nope. Nothing yet.

It’s the unavoidable beat in the #ModiTrump backroom - constant vigil of the the super thumb’s Twitter handle, especially in the early morning hours. Trump is known not to touch alcohol, he wakes up bright and early, and tweets many of his headline-grabbing opinions well before 6 am local time.

Insults, praise, typos and even drollery fired from @realDonaldTrump handle can cause havoc, leave deep gashes or carve new heroes overnight - the US president’s favourite pastime and foreign policy tool that can ping wildly across the political internet before and after bilateral meetings.

On the other side, the Indian prime minister’s social media team staffed by an energetic, young team in New Delhi has also sharpened its game ahead of the Modi-Trump meeting.

With insights drawn from 2016’s June visit, the PMO’s social media war room has made changes to its content strategy and staffing pattern this time to ensure round the clock coverage on key handles of the Narendra Modi SM ecosystem.

Meanwhile, here in the US, what’s the master of suspense, distraction and counter attack tweeting on the last working day ahead of meeting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi?

Trump seems pleased with himself. “Nice!”, “massive”, “enjoy” — he’s congratulating himself for all that’s getting done despite the Washington “swamp” he dislikes.

After having his worst week in Washington, where Trump was said to be yelling at TV screens in the White House, the cloud is lifting — the Republicans have won an important election in Georgia 6th district (which pundits said was too close to call), the Comey tapes saga has ended (with Trump tweeting its demise) and now the Republicans are hoping to push through their blockbuster piece of legislation written behind closed doors by an elite gang.

Local politics is dominating the news cycle in the US. Time is running out for Trump to get US Congress to pass the healthcare bill that replaces Obamacare; there’s only 4 days left before the Congress breaks for summer recess. None of the big bang legislations Trump promised have moved forward.

Trump's Twitter handle - the unavoidable news beat ahead of #ModiTrump/ Reuters

Trump's Twitter handle - the unavoidable news beat ahead of #ModiTrump/ Reuters

The hysterics inside America’s cable news bubble is all about Obamacare repeal and Trump’s domestic troubles so far.

White House press briefings are being done far less frequently of late compared with the four or five times a week during Obama’s time. Whether there will be a press briefing after the Modi-Trump meeting will be known only on the day of the meeting, given the way the administration operates now.

The State Department social handles are all about Rex Tillerson on engaging China to deal with North Korea -

So, this is what is consuming Washington DC before the weekend Modi arrives — it's not India. And that's not a negative, it's a plus. Wonks are united in the thought process that India is not a 'problem', it's where stuff is chugging along nicely, the country growing at 7 percent or thereabouts while the rest of the world is lurching towards a 3 percent mark. What's up in the air is Trump's (often) temperamental tweeting.

When Modi and Trump meet, it will be more than a first face-to-face between leaders of the world's two largest democracies, it marks the coming together of the world’s 2 leading social media champs with a combined Twitter base of 63 million follows; two men who have smashed political campaigning (and victory) dogmas riding on the heady network effects of free media.

The Indian PM has 30.7 million followers on his @narendramodi handle, started 2009; he follows a little over 1700 people. Modi has a sub-handle for his personal website @narendramodi_in which has a 1.17 m base as of 14 June. There's also @PMOIndia and a sub-handle for the Narendra Modi app which crowdsources inputs for Modi's radio address, provides an infographics blast with with an official seal and offers content in more languages than any newspaper does.

Trump is at 32.2 million on his personal handle @realDonaldTrump and like Modi, Trump’s handle is also 2009 vintage. Trump follows 45 people, mostly family, White House coterie and many of his own gold plated properties. He has a running list of people he keeps blocking. Add to that, his @POTUS Twitter account (18.8 million followers), Facebook pages (22.4 million likes and 1.7 million followers), YouTube subscribers (103,000 and 4.3 million), and Instagram (7 million followers) - it totals ~86.7 million followers.


Published Date: Jun 23, 2017 07:54 pm | Updated Date: Jun 23, 2017 08:13 pm


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