October 17, 2016

The journey of adoption of Twitter by leaders: Shashi Tharoor's take

Shashi Tharoor is a well-known name on social media. An Under secretary General in the UN who lost against ban ki Moon in the race for Secretary General, Shashi adopted social media when thought leaders worldwide were highly skeptical about it. Later he turned into a politician and became a minister in the Indian government - here too, he was among the few who used social media for communication with his audience. Politicians in India, at that time, ridiculed the idea of using Twitter or Ted Talks for airing one's ideas.

It was Modi, the present Indian Prime Minister, who dethroned Shashi from the top Twitter followed politicians' list in India. He still is one of the top politicians on Twitter, with an awesome following of 8.6 million people.

In an article on Outlook, Shashi takes us through his journey on Twitter - which brilliantly captures the path of social media's rise as the medium of choice among opinion leaders anywhere, especially in India. 
He shares how things tend to go extremely wrong when a small indiscretion takes place on the social media; he should know it well as he had to eat a humble pie thanks to one tweet.

Shashi is not oblivious to the reality that though Twitter and other social platforms are being adopted by the masses, aided by fast adoption of smartphones worldwide, social media would not influence elections in a big way in the near future, at least in a country like India. 

Shashi Tharoor also knows that a large following on Twitter does not necessarily mean those many people endorse you: Having ‘followers’ doesn’t mean they are all fans, friends or supporters—many follow you just out of curiosity, some just to attack you. But they are an audience.

Twitter, to Shashi, is a great medium of information and networking and its role as purveyor of knowledge can be much more than a traditional newspaper. He says, Like other social media, Twitter can help you create knowledge networks, disseminate information and keep track of the world around you well ­beyond what is available in our daily newspapers. The links posted by people I follow on Twitter give me a wider range of information and ­insight than any single newspaper can. His tweets are a testimony to what he says: they are full of links to thoughtful reading material elsewhere.

Shashi's article has been used in this post with permission from Outlook magazine.