Budget 2019: Does your mother know?

As Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman takes us through her proposals to propel India into a USD 5 trillion dollar economy by 2024 from the current USD 2.7 trillion, with a number of game-changing ideas, I am reminded of another Budget in 2014, when Digiqom changed the digital game.

The key question we asked ourselves then, and something we ask ourselves each day at work is, ‘what do you tell your mom about what you do?’ So when we proposed to do live social media updates on Twitter and Facebook, for the country’s largest credit rating agency in a language that social media would understand, they sort of said yes!

This was before Facebook Live, Twitter Periscope, Instagram stories, IGTV powered by ‘all you can eat’ 4G bandwidth. We had been doing live tweets at events, but poor bandwidth almost never allowed for videos. 

The question was and still is, when the Finance Minister says, for eg INR 40,000 crores for roads and railways, does that easily translate to saying you can now visit your mom more frequently because you can now buy cheaper rail tickets, and more trains will run on time, because of better tracks and better paid staff?  

We brainstormed this with the economists from the credit rating client, and they sort of said yes and no, as most economists usually do with caveats and pauses thrown in. What they did say is that they did have a view and each budget proposal could be rated as positive, negative and neutral in terms of impact on current account deficit, foreign exchange reserves and other such terms that our moms would never be interested in. 

But when we went to Facebook asking if we could live post on their India page, they not only jumped at it, but also connected us with the TV channel of the day- Times Now. Suddenly we found the specs had changed from 140 characters or less for Twitter to 90 characters for Aston banners. The ticker and banners that run across the TV screen. 

Come Budget Day, and we were sitting with the chief economists and C-level execs at the client’s cafeteria staring at a very large screen, with teams working on what data to share in the posts. Typically, what allocation went up or down or remained unchanged and the impact – ALL IN REAL TIME! 

As I watch the TV on the net today, using a 4G connection, and see the 140- character text posts streaming next to the LIVE transmission, with a blue bird and ‘like’ symbols, I am reminded of how asking a fairly basic question on the annual ritual of the Union Budget opened up an entire gamut of possibilities and now best practices for news curation and digital amplification.     


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