Handle-ing it well

Updated: May 25, 2019, 07:51 IST | Suman Mahfuz Quazi

After hearing the news that the Queen of England is looking for a social media manager, we speak to strategists behind the profiles of famous Mumbai personalities to find out what makes them tick

Handle-ing it well
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Recently, the royal family issued an open call for interested candidates to apply for the position of Digital Communication Officer aka Queen Elizabeth's very own social media (SM) manager. Of course, the Internet has exploded. But we're sure the excitement around this mysterious royal employee will fizzle out soon. Chances are, in a few months, we'll be talking about how engaging the Queen's handles are without ever finding out who makes it possible. But there are people working tirelessly to ensure just that. So, we roped in SM managers and strategists from across the board, who're handling the multifarious accounts of the politician you voted for, the actor you love, the chef you rely on for cooking tips and the humorous account that makes you laugh. Here's what they have to say.

Fanning the stardom
Originally from Mangalore, Priyanka Pereira used to be a journalist before she became a social media manager, and now, is the founder of the SM agency, Phantom Words. She handles an eclectic mix of clients that include actors, sportsmen and chefs. Outlining the importance of an SM manager today, she says, "It will be difficult for a public figure, start-up or brand to survive without social media. However, an actor's job is to prepare for his character. So, you cannot expect him to leave his work and focus on peripheral things like, Instagram posts, regular tweets and FB live sessions. That's where we come in."

Priyanka Periera
Priyanka Periera

She adds, "Amit Sadh [my client] has two big web-series coming up. He has been shooting for them continuously. But whenever he gets a break, he likes to travel or workout, etc. So, to mix things up, we did posts of him working out, too. For actor Daisy Shah, we concentrate on her dance, fitness, shoots and her love for animals. Whereas for Kunal Kapoor, we focus on his life as an actor, pilot and racer." But Pereira's job is not without its challenges.

Kunal Kapoor
Kunal Kapoor

It requires mental stamina and keeping an ear to the ground. "You need to be patient when sometimes certain posts don't work out or the follower count doesn't go up. Handling a plethora of clients is an additional challenge because their demands are different. A chef will need more hands on videos, but with a cricketer, it's a different ball game. For example, we have to ensure that we are not posting or tweeting on their behalf when a match is going on," she shares.

The logic behind the joke
Cancels on interviews since he/she got called into a meeting with Kunal Kamra," is the funny response we get from Aakash Shah, head of social media at AIB, who we have asked what a day in his life looks like, but to which his reply gets delayed. Shah's role in the comedy collective is arguably a significant one, considering a large chunk of their work is online.

Aakash Shah
Aakash Shah

"I had created some stuff on the Internet, when Tanmay [Bhat] suggested I join AIB as a writer or to manage their social media. I opted for the latter. And for the past three years, I have been waking up to news that's funny. The best thing about [being an SM manager] in India is that you don't have to try too hard to look for content," he shares.

AIB
AIB

When asked how he navigated SM in the aftermath of the #MeToo allegations against two of AIB's founders, he says, "I wasn't involved as the administration took over, so I can't comment on this."

Cooking strategies
Bengaluru-based Krithika Chandrasekaran's journey as celebrity chef Ranveer Brar's SM manager started with a fan page she made for him in 2014.

#HealthMantra, a trend on Brar's Twitter
#HealthMantra, a trend on Brar's Twitter

The two first met online and then in person in 2015, when the IT professional by day started managing his accounts. Her day begins with scanning through the news and Brar's SM channels to see if any interaction has transpired apart from identifying noteworthy F&B news that can be leveraged.

Krithika Chandrasekaran
Krithika Chandrasekaran

That apart, she works with the chef to create trending hashtags, fun fact series and videos, which she then uploads through the day. And as someone who has learnt on the job, Chandrasekaran's approach is highly organic. For example, to ensure that her strategies work, she employees new features, like FB premiere or fresh filters on Instagram, on her personal accounts first.

Ranveer Brar
Ranveer Brar

And if they work, she suggests them to Brar. "Chef loves to travel and research and has a unique approach to food. I appreciated that and wanted to help him extend that to his social media, too. He knows exactly what he wants, what kind of posts need to go up and what's trending. So, when I present an idea, and I am met with silence, it means, pasand nahi aaya," she shares, explaining how his involvement has helped her grow.

The making of a winner
If content is king, distribution is god," quips Madhukeshwar Desai, all-India Vice President of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha and ex-Prime Minister Morarji Desai's great grandson, who played a significant role in strategising BJP minister Poonam Mahajan's social media campaign for the elections.

IGTV videos were created to garner reach among first time voters
IGTV videos were created to garner reach among first time voters

Mahajan ultimately won the seat in the Mumbai North Central constituency this year, and so, it's safe to say that Desai and his team have surely done something right. For the past one and a half months or so, Desai has lived a gruelling life, considering he was helming media-related deliverables, karyakarta management and voter outreach, over and above her SM campaign.

Poonam Mahajan
Poonam Mahajan

"Every day, we would get a brief on what the English, Hindi and Marathi newspapers have covered about us. Our team would go through all our videos and the content that's going up, as well as what the Congress party is putting up, at the Mumbai, state and national levels. Then, we'd make a note of the comments on those posts and it would be presented to Poonam Ji around mid-day.

Madhukeshwar Desai
Madhukeshwar Desai

My job was to identify what was politically relevant, what to respond to and what could be leveraged from our campaign's perspective. We would churn out videos, tweets and posts and content that would either go up as a reaction to what has happened on the previous day, or to set the agenda for the next or the same day," he reveals, adding that this task involved culling out snippets from Mahajan's rallies for distributional videos and monitoring coordinates through the day.

"At around 7.30 pm, I would leave my prachar to meet with party workers and voters in various parts of the constituency to understand what the issues are at different levels. This would go on till 1.30 am or so," he adds. But the big win has been worth all the hard work as a large part of Mahajan's campaign was designed to attract first-time voters. "Most individuals between the ages 18 and 23 interact with the world through Instagram. They are very important to us. And the best way to reach out to them is in a way they understand," he explains.

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