What I learned from the CIA

The Central Intelligence Agency knows a lot about creating content for social media.

While at PRSA ICON in Indy, I was able to hear Carolyn Reams presentation on the communication secrets of the CIA. Carolyn Reams, the social media lead and outreach for Office of Public Affairs at the Central Intelligence Agency, has a  background in museum curation that has significantly influenced how she approaches social media for the CIA. While a wealth of quality content is available through the CIA’s website, yet those most interested in the relevant subject matter fail to access it without prompting.  Reams and her associates are tasked with driving visitors to that content, keeping the CIA relevant in media, and furthering the recruitment of future agents. So the CIA curates it’s wealth of content and then drip feeds those stories out over Twitter in a daisy-chain format.

There are several advantages to releasing tweets this way.

  • It ensures that the story stays connected.
  • It allows for relevant discovery. Someone can start with any tweet in the daisy-chain and still get the whole story.
  • It builds layers to the story.
  • It amplifies the impact of curation (positive social signals are inherent).

NOTE: Hashtags are crucial to ensuring that things in the story are kept in context! It’s still Twitter and you can’t guarantee when (or where in the thread) audience members will tune in. Reams detailed for Buzzfeed how her lack of focus due to a dental appointment lead to missing hashtags and a perceived international incident, “When the anniversary of North Korea invading South Korea, we did some tweets on that; and it was a very busy day and I just really hadn’t focused quite frankly, that much on it, which again a huge lesson learned, please do; focus before you send things out, to 850,000 people. I wasn’t thinking and I forgot to hashtag everything…If you read it in context, it all made perfect sense. But because I hadn’t put it in context and if you’re just logging on to Twitter, and that’s the first thing you see, that’s a little terrifying.”

Until now I hadn’t considered the power of daisy-chaining tweets while live tweeting. Live tweeting can be fairly intense given you are receiving, documenting, interpreting, and disseminating information at an unbelievably high rate. I decided to put the method to use and see what sort of metrics it impacted.


  1. Pingback: What else I learned from the CIA – stephaniekatcher.today

Comments are closed.