Setting the Twitter Agenda for India

The media landscape that we inhabit is not the same in which McCombs & Shaw first developed  Agenda Setting Theory. In the original article, McCombs & Shaw point out that voters do not have an alternative means of attaining up to date information from the political arena apart from the mass media.

With the growth of social media, we can see that is not true anymore. In the case of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has successfully garnered public attention and support through active engagement on Twitter. In contrast his primary political opponent, Rahul Gandhi, joined the platform only in 2015. His social media strategy on Twitter has been extremely reactive and rarely goes beyond criticizing the government.

This has resulted in people not taking him seriously as a source of information or as a contributor to the national agenda. He lags behind considerably in number of followers. Currently his account stands at 5.79 million, while Modi has 40.1 million and Arvind Kejriwal (President, Aam Aadmi Party) has 13.3 million. Despite a recent spike in popularity, news media are still skeptical of any actual influence  he may have on national politics.

I would encourage Gandhi to go beyond this reactive use of Twitter, to actually put forward his own party’s alternative to government policies. Although he does this indirectly through retweets of other political parties and figures, he hardly interacts with average twitter users. This is a strategy that Modi uses well to signal that he has public support.

This is a rare and charming example of Gandhi using it.

He should also embed his video speeches into tweets, rather than merely posting pictures. This is a strategy that Modi has used often and worked well for Gandhi in this case (+1 for the meme format).





One thought on “Setting the Twitter Agenda for India

  1. Alyssa, I love how you challenged the theory and it’s application to today’s society. I agree that many communication theories never imagined how disruptive the internet and social media would be. I also agree with your critiques and suggestions for how RG could improve his Twitter usage.

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