Twitter has become one of the biggest social media platforms and its prominence continues to grow by the minute. From international news to Bollywood gossip and more, Twitter is the ultimate place to be. Pratiksha Rao, Head of TV & Entertainment, Twitter and an expert in the field, who was at Film Bazaar 2015 shares her insights on Twitter as the go-to medium, how films and filmmakers can associate with it and why it’s such a great marketing platform.

Pratiksha Rao

Pratiksha Rao

The Indian film industry has sort of driven Twitter in India. Tell us about your experience with the film industry?

We say that “Twitter is where you connect with your interest,” and movies are especially a big interest for Indians. So, you do see a lot of conversation about movies and in fact, some of the most followed people in India are film actors. There is definitely a lot of use for Twitter in that space from movie marketing to building their audience space. Even if the actors are vacationing or just going about their life they can share that with the audience. And, in today’s day and age, you have to be connected to your audience, no matter what you are doing and you have no excuses because now online platforms like Twitter are out there. We have especially seen that a lot of conversation about movies happens on Twitter. Whether people love that movie or hate it, whatever they think about it, they tweet about it. Therefore, it is wise to be on the platform and try and join the conversation or own that conversation because people are going to talk about your movie irrespectively.

And, I think you can actually connect with public figures, which you can’t really do anywhere else. People would tweet to Mira Nair (Film Director) saying, “Hey, I am a young filmmaker and how can I get in touch with you,” and she would reply to them. You can’t really have that kind of a conversation on any other platform and I think that is what makes it unique, especially in the context of cinema. Twitter makes these celebrities you see on screen, human. It’s a platform where celebrities are humans and that is why it works very well and in context with cinema.

Twitter is a platform and not content creator. India is a place where you have to feed a lot of content so how does Twitter create engagement?

The way we actually function is that we advise our partners on how they can use Twitter in the best way possible. Whether you are a director or a production studio or an actor we would advise you on how best to reach out to people. We, ourselves, don’t create content, but we enable content creation. Twitter is in itself a free marketing platform. You have to pay a lot of money to get a TV spot or to put up hoardings, but this is a free platform. And unlike some other platforms whatever you tweet goes to all your followers. So we advise people as to how they can use it better.

Talking in terms of the Indian context, Twitter as a brand has enough marketing already. Be it any newspaper you open, any TV screen you turn on, you will see tweets there. That is the nature of the platform, tweets travel.

Do you see yourself patterning with films and film events in the future, maybe not as media partners, but otherwise?

We actually work with a lot of production studios like Yash Raj Films, Red Chillies and so on. In fact, we worked a lot with Red Chillies during Happy New Year. We are an equal opportunity platform and so, we work with pretty much everyone. We may not be an official, corporate media partner, but we do co-create and give more visibility to whatever the brand is doing, that is why we use the word ‘partner’.

If a small filmmaker has to approach Twitter as a marketing tool, what are the few things that they could do in terms of exploring the medium?

I would say, build your audience. Start early and don’t think of it as a regular marketing platform. This is a platform where you can engage, where you can make your characters come alive. You should create a Twitter account when you come up with a name for your movie or start production or even before that and keep sharing whatever is happening on the set. People on Twitter like the behind-the-scenes aspect which they may not see elsewhere. Use videos and images. People on Twitter are very forgiving about the video quality, so even if you put up mobile videos they will actually like it because it feels more real. So start building your audience early so that by the time your movie is actually ready for release you have this audience base to reach out to.

-Transcribed by Aarti Sukhija