How the CIA hit its storytelling stride on Twitter

The spy agency’s former social media director shares insights on tailoring fascinating content for a diverse audience of ‘skimmers,’ ‘swimmers’ and ‘divers.’

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We can neither confirm nor deny the brilliance of the CIA’s social media strategy.

Carolyn Reams, the intelligence agency’s former social media director, shared broadly applicable insights with the audience at Ragan’s 2020 Social Media Conference on Friday.

Reams shared a fascinating peek inside Langley’s social media comms ops, which she says took 11 months’ worth of approvals to launch. The agency’s legendary first tweet laid the groundwork for showing a more human side to the CIA.

We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.

— CIA (@CIA) June 6, 2014

Reams, who spent 12 years as deputy director of the CIA Museum before assuming her social media role, recommends a curator’s approach to presenting content. She says to think of a museum exhibit when you tweet.

“Inform, instruct and inspire,” she says. “Successful exhibit content is accessible, highly visual, easy to understand and absorb—and relevant. Why should social media be any different?”

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