Taking you for a Twitter ride
Anuya Jakatdar dissects the Twitter success of B-list stars and lays bare their strategies for all to see
Twitter 101 by Baba Sehgal — take the first controversial object that comes to your mind, find a rhyming word, and turn it into a “rap”. To illustrate, let’s start with ‘kisses’. What rhymes with ‘kisses’? Mrs! That’s right. So. Someone who kisses a lot must not be a Mrs, right? Perhaps we can use this rap to make a poignant statement on the state of affairs as they are, no pun intended.
Resulting tweet — @OnlyBabaSehgal itni karti ho tum kisses, kya prefix hai tumhara miss ya mrs ?? Welcome to the firebrand of Twitter marketing championed by the likes of Sehgal, Kamaal R Khan, Sherlyn Chopra and Poonam Pandey, characterised by risqué, over the top tweets that are so bad that they’re good.
The good, the bad, and the naughty
Take Sherlyn Chopra, for example. Known now as India’s first Playboy Playmate, Chopra’s claim to fame was minor roles in B-grade Bollywood movies, until Twitter allowed her the kind of fame otherwise denied to her. With 1,32,526 followers who either vilify her or praise her to the high heavens, Chopra has used Twitter to her benefit by saying, or showing, things that no one could’ve imagined. These include naked pictures of her from a Playboy photoshoot, and a recent tweet where she admitted to having sex for money.
Pandey, on the other hand, rose to notoriety when she announced that she would bare all if India won the World Cup — a promise she is yet to fulfil. In the meantime, as she makes up her mind on when she’d like to undo the string bikini, however, she has used Twitter to keep her audience just titillated enough. Pandey creates hashtags, like #bathlikePoonamPandey (which she claims trended worldwide) and releases one picture of her at a time, with foam strategically covering all that needs to be left to the imagination.
There’s no strategy behind it, she says. She does whatever feels right at the moment, even if it means setting up an elaborate photo shoot in
a bathroom. “When you love something a lot, when you think about something 24/7, you automatically know what to do,” she says. And it does seem like she knows what to do. Her Twitter account, created two years ago, has 2,93,883 followers, and her bio screams “THE MOST DOWNLOADED MODEL ON THE INTERNET”. “I release the pictures one at a time because you have to do it slowly,” she confesses. “Otherwise, how will it catch fire?”
She puts up at least 2 to 10 pictures in a day, depending on her work schedule, each accompanied by a blatantly suggestive tweet — @ipoonampandey: the only way to keep my b**bs this big is to stay the size I am ahahaha… Not yet 21, Poonam has understood Twitter and how to use it to her advantage at a very young age. Either that, or she’s got a damn good social media handler. “I click pics like that because my tweethearts like them,” she says. “After that I don’t have to do anything to get comments and retweets. They just happen.”
What brands can learn from them
The industry experts don’t find anything wrong with Chopra or Pandey’s antics. In fact, they respect them — it’s not easy for someone who is relatively unknown to have fans eating out of their hands like that. Saurabh Kanwar, founder and president of Flarepath Digital, believes that there are valuable lessons to be learnt from what they do. “They manage to stay in the news without looking processed or forced,” Kanwar says. “It looks like an individual is behind it, and it amazes me how they manage to get attention back to themselves.” Even though they’re using pornography, he argues, the fact remains that they’re using it well.
When it’s not borderline pornography
It’s the tweets that are so incredible, that you’re forced to Retweet them, just so that you can all join in a collective, “Can you believe this guy?”
Practised successfully by @KamaalRKhan aka KRK on Twitter, this formula is simple — say the most offensive thing you can, and hope that no one persecutes you for it (and buy a bulletproof suit, just in case). Take a tweet by the man early this week — “Shirish Kunder has been disappeared from Twitter like a girl disappears from a city after getting raped.”
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. KRK has tweeted 2,581 tweets, each one more controversial than the other. In the process, he has picked up 67,325 followers — not bad for a guy whose only real contribution to society is a forgettable film called “Deshdrohi”. “He was a nobody, and suddenly he’s on everybody’s quote list,” Kanwar says. “He’s a meme! He has a style that people emulate.” “He’s unafraid to say what’s on his mind, which is what social media is about,” he adds. And that, ladies and gents, are two very unconventional, yet sure-fire ways of getting followers on Twitter. The question is, do you have what it takes?
Some controversial tweets that got these people trending
1.“Premier in the evening my girlgand deciding what I should wear :)
—@ShahidKapoor referring to his gang of girls dressing him up for Mausam. The tweet was instantly jumped on by the Twitterati, so much so that #girlgand trended!
2. In September 2009, Shashi Tharoor famously tweeted that he’ll travel “cattle class in solidarity with all our holy cows,” referring to being herded into a plane by airlines.
3. In October 2011, @shirishkunder tweeted this “I just heard a 150 cr firecracker fizzle,” referring to Ra One. It earned him a famous slap from Shahrukh Khan, and now that Joker has failed at the box office, perhaps also the right to eat his words.