Why Deepika Padukone needs to have a chat with her PR and social media team

On World Mental Health day, yesterday, Deepika Padukone tweeted,

“To each and every one of you,
This #WorldMentalHealthDay I am delighted to announce the launch of The Deepika Padukone Closet™ where you can shop and own some of my most favourite pieces from my wardrobe!”

Minor detail: the first tweet also had a video that ran for 43 seconds where she mentions that the sale proceeds would go towards supporting those struggling with mental illness through the LiveLoveLaugh foundation.

Now, anyone with reasonable experience in any kind of professional communications, like journalism, corporate communication, video scripting etc. would know how to evaluate the material in hand, prioritize the information based on what may be most critical for the audience to know and most importantly, how to frame it.

But, it clearly looks like that kind of rigor wasn’t part of framing these 2 tweets.

Let me take you through the process.

What are the elements of Deepika’s announcement?

  1. Launch of an online store called The Deepika Padukone Closet™
  2. What does The Deepika Padukone Closet™ offer?
  3. Why was The Deepika Padukone Closet™ launched?
  4. The URL to The Deepika Padukone Closet™ store
  5. Why should people buy from The Deepika Padukone Closet™??

This is a very well-known and old construct in communications, called Five Ws of storytelling – Who, What, Why, Where and When. I’ve taken elements from that to build my list of what are the points worth mentioning in this announcement. Most professional communicators wouldn’t need to make such an explicit list to arrive at this thought-process – they’d be doing it almost intuitively, in their mind, due to the experience.

But, because it is being shared on social media platforms, the team also needs to evaluate how to structure the content differently, depending on each platform’s specific nuances.

It clearly looks like the team wrote one script and used it across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as-is, with no change whatsoever.

Observe the badly placed comma: “Visit DeepikaPadukone.com/closet ,shop till you”. It is exactly the same in all three platforms. This is just lazy work by Deepika’s PR/social media team.

And it also looks like the team was Instagram-first, without taking into account the changes needed for other text-first platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

On Instagram, which is visual-first/video-first, people notice the visual first, or see the video auto-playing by default (on mute). And then see the text. That’s the nature of the platform.

On Twitter and Facebook, however, the nature of content consumption, however fleeting, is different, since they started as text-first platforms. The likelihood of people skimming through the text without watching the video (which may not be auto-playing on either Facebook or Twitter) is far higher than on Instagram.

Without watching the video, the tweet and the Facebook post look horribly awkward and terribly framed. Only upon viewing the video would you realize that the launch is rightly intended and in line with the Foundation’s vision.

And here’s another problem: in a world where 15-second videos are the norm (on TikTok) and where even Facebook is launching a contest for 10-second videos, a 43-second video to explain the whole construct may seem like overkill. No, in the overall scheme of things, 43 seconds is hardly anything, but in order to not be misunderstood, it was imperative that the team think through this thoroughly.

In the 5 items I listed as key points, here is the way I would prioritize them to make an announcement on Twitter and Facebook:

  1. Launch of an online store called The Deepika Padukone Closet™
  2. The URL to The Deepika Padukone Closet™ store
  3. Why was The Deepika Padukone Closet™ launched?
  4. What does The Deepika Padukone Closet™ offer?
  5. Why should people buy from The Deepika Padukone Closet™?

Now, I’d mention, in text, the first 3, in-tweet, while 4 and 5 are perfectly appropriate for the video, however long it is. The URL, in the first tweet, is critical because that is the call-to-action. The reason behind the store is critical because that explains why this store exists and what it aims to achieve. To hide that reason and the URL inside the video and expect people to see the video and then arrive at their conclusion is not misplaced, but misjudged. That is the nature of specific social media platforms and it is prudent to be cognizant of such differences.

As a result, many, many people were seen seemingly flabbergasted by Deepika’s tweet, yesterday. This was simply because, in a fast timeline like that of Twitter, people see the text first and not the video. The video is an after-thought, after it being sold really well by the text (a pitch to watch the video has to be compelling). The team should fully expect people not to watch the video and get the idea from the tweet alone. If they also watch the video, then that is a bonus. The reverse is the problem – expecting everyone to read the tweet and watch the video. Even Deepika’s own team may not behave like that on social media platforms.

Is this behavior wrong? Not really. But it is the reality. We are bombarded with content from many sources. We have our own ways of skimming and deciding what to spend more time on. This is simply an evolution of our coping mechanism with content overdose. Smart and sensible communicators would figure ways to work around it, instead of presuming that the audience is waiting to consume anything and everything they write.

And as usual, rabid fans of the star were seen shouting at those people calling them impatient and not willing to watch even a 43-second video to get the full context.

I wouldn’t blame only the audience – communication is a 2-way process. The speaker needs to think about what she is communicating, to whom and how, as much the listener needs to think about getting the context right.

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