At 1 pm on a warm Friday afternoon June 23, exactly 600 people in the USA got a lunchtime ping on their phones - a personalised email from India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi which went out mostly to folks in the tristate area of Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland or on their way here for Modi's Sunday afternoon June 25 speech to Indians in America.
This is what it says:
“I would be coming to Washington DC for a visit starting 24th June.
During my visit I would be holding talks with President Trump on ways to boost India-USA ties.
On 25th I would be addressing a community programme in Washington DC, where I look forward to interacting with you.
Before we meet in Washington DC, I want to hear from you. Share your ideas and inputs with me on the Narendra Modi Mobile App. I would refer to them during my speech at the community programme on 25th.
You can share your ideas on the specially created Open Forum on the Narendra Modi Mobile App.
This Sunday, in Trump’s backyard, when Modi speaks to an invitation-only gaggle of Indian diaspora in the ultra chic McLean location in Virginia, we’ll see many of those responses on the NM App woven into Modi’s speech.
Not everyone may respond, not everyone has downloaded the app yet, some have posted it on their social pages for eyeballs and so on but the effort from the PMO side is not just qualitative, it’s also to simultaneously streamline outside-in content into one bucket rather than multiple sub handles on Facebook and Twitter which has already spun out of control.
Modi's 40 million fans on Facebook (and 30 million follows on Twitter) are force multipliers to the NaMo app.
Even in India, Modi is known to make changes to speeches right until the last minutes before he takes the lectern. What the Indian PM is seeking to do at the diaspora speech takes not just his social media outreach to a new place, it drives home a crucial message on the nature of content itself - 2017 is the year of the user. Find a way to let your user reach you and reward them with social recognition - that’s a first baby step to not just ‘talking at’ communities but reaching them.
User generated content (UGC) in practice is what we’ll see Modi demonstrate from a power pulpit in the USA this weekened.
“We’ll see the coming together of two most followed leaders on social media” a top White House official said and slipped in the angle of how “Trump’s follows are slightly higher”.
Modi’s social media methods in Trump’s backyard will not just prove that ‘follow’ metrics in isolation are barely relevant anymore ( just as egg accounts don't count for much ), it will showcase that those with the power to gather data can put it to great use in modern day politics (or anywhere else) only if they know how much to scrub, what to use, when to make it personal and reach the audience where they are at the time they’re most likely to see your message in a tidal wave of information that comes at us in a hyper-connected age of 4G and 5G mobile connectivity.
This is certainly not the first time India’s PM has used social media for inputs - his Mann ki Baat radio address has been doing that for many months now. In recent times, Modi has asked his followers on the NM app for responses on issues that range from how to reduce food wastage to how we can promote Indian art and crafts.
In various formats ranging from the big bang Madison Square address to more intimate settings like the USIBC huddle, Modi has always addressed the Indian diaspora on his US trips but this is the first time that it’ll be UGC-led.
It doesn’t stop there.
Modi’s energetic social media team has stitched together a multi course offering - Modi’s radio address Mann Ki Baat will also feature this weekend so that’s the India point of view playing on loop in multiple formats - audio, video and text during both the morning and evening hours of the Sunday before Modi meets Trump.
Mann Ki Baat first airs at 11 am IST on June 26 IST and Modi’s Indian diaspora address will be at 11:30 pm IST.
So who came up with the UGC idea? “PM did. He said he wants to know what Indians in America are thinking, he wanted to hear directly from them. It’s not so much about Indo-US…he just wants to know how they feel about our country”, a source told Firstpost.
Updated Date: Jun 24, 2017 17:31 PM