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Street plays hold ground in the age of social media

They focus on child trafficking, sanitation, nutrition and several other problems in the city

Street plays that were once associated only with rural areas of our country made its entry in urban neighbourhoods a long time ago. In its urban avatar, street plays that are synonymous with socially relevant messages have now turned into branding platforms for corporates.

For instance, Aircel has been staging street plays for a fortnight targeting workers from outside Tamil Nadu to promote their call and data plans. “This is one of the easiest modes of communication. We are staging the plays in various parts of the expanded areas of Chennai in Hindi, Bhojpuri and Oriya since most of the workers engaged in construction industry come from there. The response has been great so far,” an official of Aircel says.

They plan to continue for a few more days in other parts too. Sriram Iyer of Nalanda Way Foundation says street plays that are an effective way to engage a community is now being seen even in urban set ups like malls. “There is quite a bit of clutter in advertisements, so they think street plays are much more exciting and promotes their brand well,” he adds.

From child trafficking issues to sanitation and nutrition, several problems are dealt with street plays in the city, he says. But the challenge with street plays in an urban set up is to reach out to the targeted audience in the right way, he adds.

Social media a stage for accountability

The social media is too powerful to be ignored. Corporates take social media platforms very seriously and have a special team handling the grievances on public forums. Even the public service agencies have taken note of it and are optimally using it.

Remember Delhi Police’s comeback after Delhi CM used a derogatory word against them.

Looking at the social media presence of city and traffic police, Metro Rail and Chennai Corporation, traffic police win hands down. “Chennai Traffic Police have some unique combination of activities. The page has been successful in hearing public grievances. They take the concerns, act on the same and report it back to the page with images before and after complaints. It shows the credibility of the page and also of the traffic police. They have smart ways of doing campaigns by collaboration. They had earlier collaborated with Zara Tapas Bar to create a video campaign on drunken driving using Yamraj,” says  Sorav Jain, Thinker in Chief, EchoVME Digital Marketing Agency and Education.

On the other hand, the Facebook Pages of Chennai City Police and Chennai Metro is updated and is used as a platform for announcements and to share their achievements, though it is not interactive.

There is an Facebook page of Chennai Corporation, but social media users are not sure if it is verified. “Chennai Corporation is not at all active compared to the two other government agencies. They need to claim the page and set some engagement goals every month,” says Sorav.

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