National Debate Floods Twitter as #RahulSpeaksToArnab

For the first time, after his political debut in 2004, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi opened up to an elaborate interview with TIMES NOW Editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, on Frankly Speaking with Arnab.

The biggest Television interview of 2014 was indeed a hot topic on Social Media as Times Now and numerous others were live tweeting the interview and expressing their opinions in 140 characters. Times Now had used the hashtag #RahulSpeaksToArnab to live tweet the entire show and the hashtag garnered about 101k Tweets.

Rahul speaks to Arnab Tweets Topsy

In the present digital age, no moment of a political occurence can remain un-evaluated as Twitter and live blogs offer a stream of real-time interpretation on the so-called second screen.

The use of second screens or companion devices is one of the most talked about topics in today’s broadcasting world, where new devices such as tablets and smartphones are changing the way users consume content. It allows the audience to interact with what they’re consuming whether it’s a television interview or a public speech.

Similarly, #RahulSpeaksToArnab was possibly the most popular trending hashtag on Twitter as Twitteratti continued to take a dig while the much-awaited programme was being aired.

Gone are the days when discussions would take place only around round tables in TV shows. They don’t interest people any more. Today, people want to discuss with their peers on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Let us see how Rahul Gandhi’s interview became the nation’s talking point on Twitter.


Times Now had extensively used social media to create a buzz around the much anticipated interview and show-specific tweets had begun pouring in much before the program was aired.

During the interview, the entire episode was being live tweeted by the @TimesNow Twitter handle, using their branded hashtag.

What more? The debate was extended hours after the show was concluded.

Now this was a really smart move by Times Now where it leveraged Twitter to fuel its viewership as well as kept people engaged long after the show got over.

Instant feedback, User Generated Content and Real-Time conversations

I’m sure that both Times Now as well as the Congress party would have received an immediate feedback from their viewers, in the form of live-tweets which could be used later while giving shape to their party’s long-term strategy.

Twitter can be used as a dipstick for the political parties, whereas news channels can also solicit feedback on how the programme was perceived by their viewers, what they liked and disliked about the program. In fact, these interviews could be made more relevant by considering what people really want to know, and not just by what the channel thinks is important.

Collaboration of Digital and Broadcast Teams

As an increasing number of viewers turn to digital media for news, it is imperative for news channels to adapt their content for the web. How do they craft an integrated digital strategy in tandem with their usual workflows? How do they enhance their traditional broadcast reporting with a social layer?

It is important for news channels to train their broadcast and productions teams and help them develop skills for digital media such as storytelling, choosing highlights from the interview and presenting it online through videos, tweets, Vines, etc.

So far, Times Now has done a great job in leveraging the potential of the medium with their official branded hashtag, real-time tweets, Vine tapes and Youtube Videos. These youtube videos have received millions of video views overnight.

After all, news channels are now content providers, rather than mere TV channels because content can be shown wherever there’s a screen, in a platform-agnostic manner.

TV Versus Digital

In the past, a lot of people were of the opinion that the internet would be the death of television. But in reality it is one of the factors that helps in drawing people towards the television. It helps people in discovering what’s popular by using trending topics!

A lot of folks belonging to the digital world would have switched on their televisions sets out of curiosity, after realizing that #RahulSpeakstoArnab is trending on Twitter.

The television will continue to override mass communication in India and there is still no substitute for its mass reach and collective viewing experience and Twitter will help in making the experience more enjoyable.


Advertisers presently isolate their TV and Digital spends. However, in the coming days, it will be just one budget: Content.

While watching Rahul’s interview on YouTube, I noticed that the video was monetized. The channel is amassing a revenue return from YouTube without investing a single penny. That’s the power of social media! There’s no denying that money generated through YouTube ads are lesser, as compared to that on TV, but it’s only going to go up as time progresses.

Times Now Oral B ad Youtube

Social Media’s Impact in the 2014 Elections:

Let’s revisit the 1984 general elections when Prannoy Roy had brought psephology to Indian television, which went on to become the hallmark of election analysis. Fast forward to the present day, and we witness Social Media becoming the game changer in the 2014 elections.

An important chunk of the Indian electorate will be those aged 25 years or younger, who have been empowered by Social Media, with a voice that was previously stifled.

Facebook has crossed 90 million active users in India and is likely to influence the next Lok Sabha elections. Whereas, Twitter has an active base of Indian users having strong political views. We all have witnessed Social media trends like Feku and Pappu being able to make TV and Newspaper headlines quite frequently.

Even the Indian politicians and their parties are making extensive use of social media for their election campaigning.

Live Election Tracker on Social Samosa

Soon, you won’t have to wait till the end of the month to see how politicians and political parties are performing on social media. As we are hurled towards the mega 2014 General Elections, we will be unveiling a dynamic live election tracker (powered by Konnect Social) that will give you real time stats on everything to do with politics on social media

From the latest buzz around Narendra Modi to AAP’s engagement with “aam aadmis” on social media, you will have everything at your fingertips in real time. Hold your breath for a few more days as we give finishing touches to what will soon redefine the way you view politics on social media.