The woman who awakened Congress' sleeping social media cell
Till a few months ago, the Congress was struggling to maintain a positive image. Amid a string of electoral defeats, it was far from easy. But a new lease of life seems to have been infused in it. Or at least in its virtual life. @OfficeOfRG is turning heads, this time for wit more than humor. It owes the turnaround to actor-turned-politician Divya Spandana.
Eight years ago, Congress' Shashi Tharoor was the only Indian politician to have a Twitter account. He now has the most followers (5.8mn) among Congress leaders. But somewhere in the race, PM Narendra Modi, with 35.3mn followers, left him far behind. Compared to @BJP4India's 6.96mn followers, @INCindia has only 2.7mn. Even the new @AamAadmiParty has 4mn.
Sometime around May, the Congress VP roped in Spandana aka Ramya. The star had gained eyeballs due to her fiery criticism of the ruling party and PM on social media. It was a feat: an outsider was brought into the innermost ring in a party known for its impermeable boundaries. Once she took over the social media team from Deepender Singh Hooda, things changed.
Ramya set about hiring new people; the team's size is now double. 85% are women; when Ramya entered, there were only three females. One of the most noticeable changes has been in Rahul Gandhi's virtual approach. Once he was wary of joining social media, now his posts were quick and direct. The BJP is feeling the heat, especially ahead of state elections.
We finally found the only beneficiary of Demonetisation. It's not the RBI, the poor or the farmers. It's the Shah-in-Shah of Demo. Jai Amit https://t.co/2zHlojgR2c— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) October 8, 2017
Ramya's team focuses on both form and content. There is a dedicated team for data analysis: every argument is now backed by numbers. The team has started posting highlights of Gandhi's public appearances in visual format. Surveys, memes and quizzes are the new order of the day. #KnowYourLegacy, #AintNoCinderella and "Vikas Gando Thayo Che" grabbed major attention. The strategy is customized for all states.
The biggest challenge for Ramya was to counter fake new and trolls. There have been gaffes: Digvijay Singh and Manish Tewari created controversy by using derogatory tweets against the PM. "We just have to deal with it," she says. Nevertheless, followers of Gandhi and other Congress leaders have increased. But Ramya takes no credit. "Whatever following has increased is only because of (Gandhi)."