How has the industry changed since you started out?
Dante Licona: It has changed an incredible amount in terms of agility, volume, scale, relevance, and adoption for very important global leaders, particularly the aspect that I've always been fascinated by: digital diplomacy, and we have seen how that space has grown so much and matured in the last 10 years. [Back then] people didn't understand that a Tweet was a public statement from an official, and that just because it was not on the website, it was still a public statement from a relevant voice.
I don't think there's a single day that you will not find a Tweet or a statement that was first said on Twitter on the cover of the Financial Times or The New York Times, but also in terms of the user perspective, it has been incredible to see how the platform has evolved with its users. One very important example is threads.
I've been Tweeting in threads for the last eight years, and when I joined WHO, social team run by my mentor and friend, Sari Setiogi Griberg, we were using threads without knowing that they were called threads; we used to call them the “Flagship Tweet Strategy.” And the Flagship Tweet was essentially an old-school fundamental, which is, we want to highlight our key message that's useful, then there will come secondary messages, then you can have a third or fourth or fifth iteration of a Tweet. You will then have all of them together in a link, so even if you have colleagues that don't have a Twitter account, they can access all those messages in a string, easily accessible.
So yes, social media has evolved a lot. Twitter has evolved a lot as a platform. But again, those fundamental messages, those fundamentals of communication still remain.
Describe your relationship with Twitter.
Dante Licona: Twitter changed my life. It changed my professional path — I joined Misión de México en Ginebra because I pitched the idea that Tweeting matters in 2011, thanks to Twitter I joined the World Health Organization and IFRC — and helped me build connections, friendships, habits, and information gathering. All my family is on Twitter; it’s a critical part of my life!
What's the most underrated Twitter feature?
Dante Licona: It depends — if it's a go-to feature, then it's Twitter advanced search and Lists. I am obsessed with Twitter advanced search. We created a guide for advanced search and it essentially offers all the commands that TweetDeck gives you, but from your mobile phone, because not everybody has access to TweetDeck, [as it can only be used] on desktop. Thinking about those limitations, we came up with this guide, so everybody could surface the Tweets that they need whenever they need it.
The most underrated Twitter feature might be Twitter timestamps on Periscope, because we have a lot of live sessions with our experts from all over the world because of COVID — we have gone live at least 50 times since the pandemic started. If there is a memorable moment you want to share with your audience, you can do it with the timestamp without having to force your audience to watch 16, 20, or 25 minutes — you take them directly to the quote, you take them directly to the place where it's happening. So I think that's pretty useful, and I don't think a lot of people are using it.