Aaj Tak has been claiming the spot of number one channel in Hindi News category from the past many years. With the arrival of social media, it also has laid claim to a successful social media strategy as well. Its Facebook page claims in the cover photo that it has been bestowed with various awards for being the portal of the year, ‘Best Integrated Campaign’ and ‘Social Media Network of the Year’. Curious to know the reason for such phenomenal success, I undertook a small study of Aaj Tak’s Facebook campaign. Here is what I found:
# Aaj Tak has 5004232 likes or 5 million likes on Facebook. Around 553378 people are talking about their page on Facebook.
#A typical post on their page which is hard core news invites close to 200 likes, around 50 comments and hardly two or three shares.
#Now cracking down on what is it that Aaj Tak shares which makes it so popular?
# As a feminist, it was appalling to find that Aaj Tak has a brisk social media campaign, all powered by commodification of women. It claims to be the fastest news channel and has been winning the right awards to prove that but then why every second post is not news but gossip? Not just gossip but pictures of scantily-clad women desperate for clicks and shares from people who like their news served for eyes not mind.
#Following image is of the famous singer Rihanna who is celebrating her 26th Birthday. The newsy part is that a popular singer has birthday.
Aaj Tak being a Hindi news channel may not have people who listen to Rihanna, but even if we do not get judgemental about the target audience of Aaj Tak, nothing justifies this picture. Except may be the fact that in the current competitive media scene, it is very difficult to stand out and in the race to the bottom to present most sleazy stuff, Aaj Tak cannot help but use such images to bring traffic. (ABP News does it too although sparingly. While to our surprise, IBN7 does not. IBN7 has the most clean news feed of all the popular Hindi news channels.)
# Besides sticking images of women in a manner which commodifies them to their posts, what is worse is that Aaj Tak has smartly used the crime ‘rape’ to its advantage. Rapes are the grotesque reality of our society but thanks to channels like Aaj Tak that they are seen as events to be excited about than an act of crime. In order to see how Aaj Tak uses rapes to drive mileage for itself, look at the following screenshot of a post shared on its Facebook page.
The headline is descriptive, thus Aaj Tak is doing much more than just breaking the news! The use of the word, ‘Sansanikhej’ which translates to ‘sensational’ in English seems to be suggesting that rapes are not unfortunate events in people’s lives but something which has shock value that can be capitalized.
As Blogger Saurabh Shishodia writes in his ‘Facebook Strategy Review of Aaj Tak’, “They post Gossip material too on film industry in India but sometimes this content cross limits. For ex they post a news section where they posted about a girl in Abroad caught having sex with a cat. Sounds shocking right.”
What is more ironical is that Aaj Tak is also mulling over monetizing its Facebook page, as their digital marketing chief mentions to this correspondent in a news piece. With such content, it is no surprise that they have reached 5 million likes and growing. The fact that there is a supply of a sleaze points towards the fact that there is a market for sleaze as well, for such posts on an average get 400 likes and more than 30 shares.