Twitter enters new era in India

20 May 2014
NEW DELHI: The recent national elections in India have boosted the role of Twitter in the nation's media landscape, with PM-designate Narendra Modi even announcing his victory and thanking world leaders on the microblogging site.

Speaking to the Times of India, Twitter marketing director Rishi Jaitly claimed a "massive contribution" from people dual-screening with Twitter during the TV coverage of the election. He noted that leading news presenters had read out tweets on air, invited questions and hosted debates via the platform.

Candidates and parties had also made extensive use of the social networking site, with the INC (India National Congress) even going as far as using it for their manifesto. "It has been their first platform of choice," declared Jaitly.

A third factor was that "users have found resonance on Twitter", which had enabled them to connect to news organisations and candidates.

Jaitly observed that Twitter had seen several surges in use over the past six years, often around significant events such as elections or the debate on women's rights. "It doesn't come as a surprise how it is being used in these elections," he said. He further asserted: "We have been relevant, if not central."

Overall, there had been more than 58m tweets on the Indian election, surpassing the 40m during the Winter Olympics at the start of the year. But Jaitly did not expect people's attention to dissipate, saying "a country that is interested in politics (will remain) interested whether or not there is an election". Accordingly he had hired someone specifically to handle news and politics.

Sports and entertainment were other areas earmarked for growth, with a particular emphasis on reaching teenagers. "Young people want a mobile experience that is live, authentic, and interactive, and reflects them," he said. "With Twitter, it adds up to growth in that area."

Data sourced from The Times of India; additional content by Warc staff
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