Imagine you have Shah Rukh Khan’s phone number. Landline number of his office or home, or his mobile number.
You call him excitedly and you hit a voicemail. It’d say, “You have reached the voicemail of Shah Rukh Khan. I’m not able to take your call right now. Please leave a message. Meanwhile, why don’t you search YouTube and watch the trailer of my latest film, Dilwale?”.
Now, if this was through the mobile phone, imagine Shah Rukh was an Android user and used Truecaller to identify callers. In that case, the voicemail would be a bit more personalised – “Hi <name>, You have reached the voicemail of Shah Rukh Khan. I’m not able to take your call right now. Please leave a message. Meanwhile, why don’t you search YouTube and watch the trailer of my latest film, Dilwale?”.
Imagine, you have Shah Rukh Khan’s email ID. You write to him excitedly, about how you loved even his dud like Chaahat (1996).
And you get a vacation autoresponder (the Out of Office equivalent). Imagine it picks the sender’s name from the mail and customizes the autoresponder: “Hi <name>, I’m out on vacation now. Will revert to you when I’m back. Meanwhile, why don’t you watch the trailer of my latest film, Dilwale: <link>?”.
Will you, as a big Shah Rukh fan go, on Twitter or Facebook…
“OMG, the best day of my life!!! Can’t believe I got an autoresponder message from Shah Rukh!”
“Woohoo, my day is made!!! Got a vacation autoresponder from SRK”.
Now, remember, in both cases, the messages do not mention that it is a ‘voicemail’ or a ‘vacation autoresponder’. But, people know when it is an autoresponse… or, we’re conditioned to know this.
Not so, on Twitter. And Shah Rukh Khan exploited that like a master, yesterday.
For people who wished him on his birthday, he sent an auto-response?what is usually massively derided when brands do it on Twitter?plugging the trailer of his latest film, Dilwale.
Like the voicemail and autoresponder, it did not mention that it is an auto-tweet.
And then, using a bot, programmed to blast tweets based on some parameter (could be anything – people who have tweeted to SRK, people who mentioned the film’s name… could be just about any parameter/criteria), he blasted the trailer of the film as a tweet to even more?a LOT of people.
And India went nuts!
And then, there was this.
There is a LOT more from where it came – check Shah Rukh Khan’s Twitter page, the ‘tweets and replies‘ tab.
Now, it doesn’t even make sense to deride the fans’ joy when they assume that SRK replied to them – they are just happy their God replied to them. The intriguing fact is that while we, as people, are conditioned to not react this jubilantly for a phone voicemail or vacation autoresponder mail, we haven’t evolved enough?or become smart enough?to realise an auto-tweet.
The clever part on Shah Rukh Khan’s side is that he knows that there is a demand for the trailer of his latest film. He doesn’t know who is interested or who isn’t – he just knows that a LOT of people may be interested. So, he uses Twitter in a faux-personal way?personalisation at scale, or mass-personalisation, if you may?to create an illusion that people are getting personalised responses.
That’s not very different from the make-believe world of movies!
Trust Shah Rukh Khan to push the boundaries of belief and believability. He did it a few months ago too, when he used his Twitter handle to feed a staged gimmick and made it seem like it was real. In other words, he was acting on Twitter – now, that’s the hallmark of a great actor… you don’t know when he is acting and when he’s being himself.