Q&A | Talking Twitter

Talking Twitter with Ric Sanchez of The Washington Post

Each month, Talking Twitter takes you behind the scenes of some of Twitter’s most interesting publishers with the social media professionals responsible for standout Tweets and viral moments. This month we sat down with Ric Sanchez, a social media producer for The Washington Post’s core social team.

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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.

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Tell us about a Tweet so good, you wish you'd written it.

Ric Sanchez: I was actually just talking to my coworkers about this — one that we all loved was from L.A. Times Food. They Tweeted out their french fry rankings, and the Tweet says “Hello I am the social media intern and have to share this but I totally don’t agree with it. Here are [our] fast food french fry power rankings.” It’s such a good Tweet! We were all a little nervous that someone Tweeted out “I’m a social media intern” because that’s a myth that won’t die, but it was a really nice pulling-back-the-curtain moment.


What accounts are a must-follow for you right now?

Ric Sanchez: The Dallas Morning News, Los Angeles Times, the Cincinnati Enquirer — not just in the sense that they’re all Tweeting out important news, which they are, but I feel like they are news organizations that use the platform the way it was meant to be used. They’re never talking down to their audience. They’re talking with their audience.


Share a Tweet from your drafts folder with us.

Ric Sanchez: I have some really dumb ones in my drafts. You know that meme where they take an artist’s name and say it’s actually short for something long and ridiculous?

This is not going to sound good out loud, but the singer Dua Lipa’s handle is all one word (@DUALIPA) and so I have a Tweet that I have not yet sent because it’s just not as funny as I want it to be, but it’s “Dua Lipa’s full name is Double India Pale Ale.” I sent that to my girlfriend as a draft and asked, “Is this funny?” She said no. I’m determined to make it funny.


OK, quick-fire round of questions to close out the Q&A. 

Throwing friendly shade at other accounts: yea or nay?

Ric Sanchez: Friendly shade? Yea. Actual shade? Nay. We’ve responded to other news accounts before, but obviously we’d never be mean to another account for no reason.


Including more than one hashtag: yea or nay?

Ric Sanchez: I would say nay for our specific use case, as a news organization.


Using emoji to replace words: yea or nay?

Ric Sanchez:  yea.


Correction: An earlier version of this story missed a golden opportunity to use emoji when discussing emoji. Ric’s reply to whether emoji can replace words initially read, “100% yea.” We regret the error.

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Talking Twitter

Go behind the scenes with some of Twitter’s most interesting publishers and the social media professionals responsible for some of the platform’s standout Tweets and viral moments in the Talking Twitter collection.