MUMBAI: It is one of the first English news channels to have started in India with big names such as Prannoy Roy, Barkha Dutt, Vikram Chandra, among many others. Now, it also has the record of being the first Indian company to cross a million followers on Twitter, which was confirmed by Twitter India as well. At the time of writing this piece @ndtv had 1,027,616 followers. It has left its competitors far behind in the race for the presence on Twitter with Times Now having 136, 684; CNN-IBN having 434,152 and Headlines Today with 37,849 followers.
NDTV Group CEO Vikram Chandra believes it is the content that drives @ndtv
The first seeds of Twitter were sown in May 2009 and it was on 5 July 2013 that the million followers mark was crossed. That is just in a matter of four years; NDTV turned a Twitter-millionaire.
So what is the secret behind the successful twitter handle of NDTV? "Nothing technical or campaign-like", says NDTV Convergence CTO Kawaljit Singh Bedi. "There is no dedicated social media team that handles twitter for NDTV. Web editors make sure news goes out under 140 characters. During the day, the editors handle the handle while in the wee hours of the night a machine ensures that news flash items are also tweeted automatically."
An average of 100 tweets are sent out daily, which is significantly lower than other English news channels, according to Bedi. Without spamming walls they just tweet about significant happenings. This could be one reason for the rising graph of followers for NDTV‘s Twitter page. However, the main reason he attributes to it is their desire to ‘put news out first‘ and not look at increasing followers. "We are a news provider and we will hold information till we know that it is right," says Bedi.
"We have always believed that we are in the content business and we have to get the content to our viewers in any and every way," says NDTV Group CEO Vikram Chandra. According to Twitter Counter, an application to track Twitter growth of individual handles, in the last three months the followers of NDTV increased by 1441 per day on average. A sampling of 1.2 million twitter users placed NDTV at a 1325 rank worldwide.
According to NDTV Convergence CTO Kawaljit Singh Bedi the focus of the team is to be the first to tweet accurate news
Surprisingly, NDTV has stopped audience and viewer interaction on twitter drastically as compared to earlier. Now, questions on Twitter are restricted to situations when a reporter is unable to reach the an incident site on time. Opinion related questions have all been shifted to the second screen section on NDTV‘s mobile application. "People who come on Twitter need not necessarily interact, they may just be coming in search of information," says Bedi. Yet, it brings a great deal of traffic to its Twitter handle.
NDTV doesn‘t get into the fray of following trends and making a story out of these unless the story merits it or it has been missed out totally. Putting out news based on the merit of the news- as Bedi puts it. The kind of news tweeted is completely based on NDTV‘s editorial guidelines. When everyone is fervently trying to increase their followers‘ base, NDTV does it with ease.
Analytics regarding the performance on Twitter are restricted to get insights into where they might be failing rather than where they made a lot of buzz on the social media. "We go beyond targeting India and are also retweeted by many international accounts as well," adds and ecstatic Bedi. Being humble about the achievement, Bedi says "It is just a number for us to let people know we are a good account."