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Social Media Is a Great Tool for Creating Social Impact, Says Ankit Lal

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Social media activist Ankit Lal is an inspiration for the youngsters of the country, he volunteered with India Against Corruption (IAC) and later Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), where he was the Social Media Head.

Ankit Lal authored India Social, which was a unique effort in itself to capture the pulse of social media in India. He is a social media evangelist, a coach, an advisor, a campaign evangelist, a speaker and an author. He worked with AAP for three back to back elections from 2013 to 2015. Ankit has also written a research paper titled Social Media as a Tool for Socio-Political Empowerment of Rural Masses. He is currently working on the book Social Media Basics and Its Evolution in India. He now owns his own social media firm that deals with Social Media related services and training. He has penned articles for NDTV, The Telegraph, The Hindu, Huffington Post India, The Quint, BBC and others.

 

Covid-19 and Social Media

Ankit Lal emphasized on how the user has become an engaged user through social media. He said, “It is the biggest takeaway. If I say it in a one-liner as to what the social media has changed, it would be the fact that it has made the user into an engaged user”.  He talked about how Covid-19 has made the lives of people holistic. According to him, Covid-19 has not only pushed us towards technology, it has also helped us contemplate education and other activities on social media and other digital platforms. He emphasised on how Covid-19 has kept a check and balance on human activities when he said, “Nature always keeps a check on how human civilization grows and this pandemic is proving the same.”

Lal shared his journey from being an engineer to a social media buff. He also spoke about his book India Social that was published in 2017. He also talked about the Mumbai attacks and how it has proved the importance of Social Media.

 

His Book India Social

Lal then referred to his book India Social: How Social Media Is Leading the Charge and Changing the Country. He said, “I have divided the book into five segments – first is politics, second is social change – because the way social media has impacted social movement is beautiful, third is how technology has impacted social media and vice versa, fourth is how social media has been used in the cases of natural disasters and fifth is how social media has been used in popular culture.” He then explained as to how he approached the topics and drew inferences from 200 interviews.

His Observations

Regarding natural disasters, he referred to the Chennai floods and talked about how social media made people aware digitally and helped in raising funds without any Government help. He also spoke about the Nirbhaya case on the issue of social change. Lal said, “The legacy has been sustained even when the CAA and NRC issues were raging. Earlier, the Government took time to respond but now a single tweet is enough to reach them.”

Speaking about popular culture, he mentioned, “AIB roasts”, and said, “It generated a debate about the right content in Indian public domain.” He also cited the song Kolaveri Di and the film ‘Ship of Theseus’ (2012), which got noticed only on the digital platforms. He also talked about the Aadhaar Card campaign and Stop Acid Attack movement. He informed, “The flaws of the Aadhaar campaign were brought to notice through social media.” He reminded the learners of the movie ‘Chhapaak’ (2020) saying, “Stop Acid Attack campaign brought a huge change through a dedicated social media campaign.”

Ankit Lal is one of the top 100 influencers. His work and journey are more appropriately painted in the book The Big Connect, penned by Shaili Chopra.

Speaking about how he started his career in political strategy in social media, Lal explained, “I volunteered with India Against Corruption (IAC) and used to handle its Social Media. When it evolved into the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), I became part of the political organization heading the Social Media strategy for the organization.”

Sharing his opinions on if development issues will get prominence in Post-Covid-19 era, he said, “Development issues have gained more importance in the past few years and I believe that Covid-19 will accelerate the pace of that conversation.”

Commenting on whether social media is playing an instrumental role during the pandemic terror and if it helping the people or otherwise, Lal said, “Social Media has had a huge role in the Covid-19 situation. Right from asking help for food to Covid-19 tests to hospitalization to travelling, Social Media has been used by those in need of help. Sonu Sood helping migrants is a great live example of this.”

Talking about how effective social media or digital platform would be for CSR communication in Post-Covid-19 era, he explained, “Social Media is a great tool for anything that has a real-world presence. It is always easier to gain traction on something that has an on-ground presence. Thus, any CSR activity that has footprints in the real world can easily utilize Social Media for greater reach.”

Explaining how and why the corporations should communicate CSR concerns through the Internet and will the physical intimacy go non-existent with Post-Covid-19 era, he remarked, “As the audience is online, it is imperative that CSR communication also happens online. However, it requires consistency and many corporations will shy away from it. Though, it is an eventuality for those who want to thrive in a post-Covid-19 era. The physical intimacy will have its place but so will have digital outreach. Both should be seen as complementary to each other.”

The author, Shatakshi Ganguly is associated with Adamas University Media School.

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