What else I learned from the CIA

Five things I learned from the CIA about tweeting

In an earlier article “What I learned from the CIA”, I talked about hearing Carolyn Reams from the Central Intelligence Agency speak. She and Preston Golson did a fabulous job of highlighting the CIA’s approach to Twitter during their lecture at PRSA ICON this year and offering a lot of insight into what works well on Twitter.

First, Know your brand. While obvious advice, I work with clients all the time who are looking to build a brand culture but haven’t figured out what truly makes their brand stand out. The CIA has a no-reply policy to social. Some of my peers found that to be a violation of the platform, accusing the CIA of missing out on the benefits of social’s two-way channel structure. True, social is about engaging audience members on a more personal level than unidirectional/broadcast platforms, however, I would argue that the CIA is genius in defying this paradigm.

Second, be relevant and interesting. This means that even the CIA will resort to cats if it has to. You don’t have to be a cat lover to find cat memes on the internet amusing. I personally prefer otters, chicken hugs, and llamas, but I’m an outlier.


CIA resorts to cats


Third, a sense of humor is required. (Maybe not shockingly new information, but it certainly explains how I ended up on stage as a paid stand-up comedian.) People like to laugh even if it’s just a little. It changes the brain chemistry releasing healing feel good chemicals into the system that can actually extend life according to my pal Brian King, PhD.  Not shocking that the CIA would also know this and use it to their advantage, that’s what I would do if it worked with my branding and made my social content more likable (*wink*wink*).

Fourth, daisy-chain your tweets. To daisy-chain something is to connect in a linear series. To daisy-chain a tweet thread you start with your parent thread, reply to it with your next line in the story, then reply to that post with the next piece, so on and so forth. This can significantly boost your signal. It allows for relevant discovery of your entire story, ensures that the pieces stay connected, and builds layers to a story in only 140-characters.

Fifth, don’t forget the hashtags (where applicable). Seriously, a well-placed hashtag gives context and creates a channel for discovery and conversation. <–––not that the CIA is going to have a conversation with you, that’s not their thing, but other people interested in the topic might.