These government Twitter accounts weren’t hacked. They’re sassy, fun and strange on purposeFebruary 23, 2020
As Thanksgiving approached last year and he needed to let homeowners know about the dangers of unattended cooking, Galbo took to Twitter and posted a photoshopped image of an oven-roasted turkey … holding a lit match.
Welcome to the eccentric Twitter account of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, which Galbo, a 33-year-old New Yorker, manages. The small — but vital — federal agency is tasked with running public safety campaigns and alerting Americans about product dangers and recalls.
The problem, Galbo found when he joined the agency’s digital team, was that it’s hard to alert when no one’s paying attention.
“Our social media stuff was very professional, very government-sounding, which was fine and there’s certainly a place for that but it was missing that fun edge that social media can have,” he says.
So he added it.
The message was for caregivers, reminding them to keep furniture away from windows so children won’t fall out of them.
Another tweet reads, “Let’s get this bread.” It’s a warning about the dangers of toasters.
“I think it’s super important for people to be engaged with their government and if it takes flying dogs and flying cats to do it, I’m glad we’re getting to that opportunity and people are finding us through this.”
Galbo isn’t alone. The commission’s account is one of a growing number of agencies and municipalities redefining government-speak in a bid to reach more people.
Think less news release, more text — or txt. Capitalization = optional. Punctuation? Meh. The rules of grammar? Pass.
Posting almost daily, the IRS often pairs its tax-filing reminders with something less stressful: pictures of food, rubber ducks and dogs — arguably the internet’s favorite animal.
The New York Conflicts of Interest Board had the words “lit,” “bae” and “fleek” all within one Twitter thread about municipal ethics.
And New Jersey’s pinned tweet?
To Stanford Social Media Lab Director Jeff Hancock, none of this comes as a surprise.
“They’re not sounding like some agency-speak which I think people are pretty desensitized to,” he says. “This might sound more authentic, it might be more compelling, it might have actually more credibility because it doesn’t sound like the usual thing.”
World, meet New Jersey
Pearl Gabel and Megan Coyne, two-thirds of the digital team behind New Jersey’s Twitter account, had a simple goal: give their state a voice.
“Djeetyet,” one of the state government’s latest tweets reads. That’s New Jersey for: “Did you eat yet?”
“We wanted the account to feel more authentic, more like it embodied the essence of New Jersey and we just kind of started to do it,” Coyne, 22, said.
The account prides itself on showcasing New Jersey’s “big state energy,” through a slew of irreverent, bold, in-your-face tweets.
“The juice ain’t worth the squeeze if the juice don’t look like this,” one post brags, quoting a Lizzo lyric…