Can you tell us a little bit about how you think about your work on Twitter?
Ric Sanchez: We are mostly promoting our journalism and putting it in front of the right audiences, but we also like to have fun on Twitter. We take our work very seriously but we try not to take ourselves too seriously, if that makes sense.
A good example of this is a series of Tweets I wrote for the Post about cheese. It started with a story about the US’s cheese stockpile. I think I was overcaffeinated that day and I was like, “I wonder what will happen if I Tweet a bunch of cheese emojis?” It really did illustrate the point of the story, so I Tweeted that out and it resonated with people.
What we’ve also been doing more of this year is Retweeting our own sub-brand accounts and our reporters. If you’re following us we want to make sure it doesn’t just look like a feed of our stories — we want to show people there are lots of different personalities at The Washington Post. We’re all ardent users of Twitter — we all use it every day in our personal lives — so I feel that our Tweets show that we understand how people talk and what they are talking about.
How has social media changed since you started out in the industry?
Ric Sanchez: I’ve been working in social media for about four years now, and in that time the biggest change I’ve noticed is just how fast everything moves. Even a few years ago it felt like there were maybe one or two big news cycles per day, but today you’re juggling five different cycles at once across different sections. For us that could be sports, politics, and health news all happening at the same time.
How has that changed what it means to be a social media manager in 2019?
Ric Sanchez: I can only speak to the news [industry], but you really have to be on top of the news cycle, in a way that I didn’t think I could be before I had this job. I mean up-to-the-minute awareness of every single news story that’s going on, to the point where we can even alert other editors, like “Hey, this big thing just happened [on Twitter] — do we have someone writing about this?”
I think if you’re going to be a news social media manager you need to just immerse yourself in Twitter, and by doing that I think you immerse yourself in the news cycle.
Describe your relationship with Twitter.
Ric Sanchez: Personally, I would say that my relationship with Twitter is that I can’t stop looking at it — I feel personally attached to it. I notice sometimes I’ll be at my desk, scrolling through Twitter on my phone, and I’ll look up and I realize I also have TweetDeck open. It’s that constant feeling of needing to know what’s happening right now. It’s a strong pull.
What's the most underrated Twitter feature?
Ric Sanchez: Threads really changed the way people use Twitter. It’s surprising to see how quickly that caught on.
When we Tweet out the daily press briefing, I will thread in Tweets from reporters who are there, so one Tweet is from The Washington Post and then one Tweet is from Josh Dawsey, one of our White House reporters, and then David Nakamura, one of our other White House reporters.
It’s a cool way to tie things together and make something a more cohesive story. That’s something I don’t think anyone did two years ago, but it’s one of the central ways we tell stories on the platform now.
And if we could grant wishes, with the exception of the edit button, what’s the one feature you’d ask for?
Ric Sanchez: It would be cool if — in the way that you can attach four JPEGs to a Tweet — the types of media could be different, so you could attach a photo, a video, and a GIF [to a single Tweet]. I realize there are probably technical limitations to that, but that would be really cool.