Q&A | Talking Twitter
Talking Twitter with Shanice Dover of gal-dem
Each month, Talking Twitter takes you behind the scenes of some of Twitter’s most interesting publishers with the social media professionals responsible for some of the platform’s standout Tweets and viral moments. This month we sat down with Shanice Dover, social media manager for gal-dem, a publication committed to telling the stories of people of color from marginalized genders.
Tell us a little about yourself. What makes @galdemzine worth following?
Shanice Dover: gal-dem was [founded] in 2015 by a group of people who were in university or had just graduated. What brought us all together was this frustration with the media industry. For some people on the team, it was the curriculums that they were studying at uni, and for others, it was the issue of a gap in representation. A lot of the stories being told, whether it was in our studies or out in the world, weren't really representative of our experiences.
When we started gal-dem, I was finishing a dissertation on the murder of Trayvon Martin and it was very clear, in all that research, how alternative media, blogs, and social media were a huge part of building what is now the Black Lives Matter movement. It was really inspiring to me to see that when these injustices happen, there are ways for communities online to come together and actually reshape what happens next, in a sense. I just remember feeling that this is exactly what I wanted to be involved in.
One of the biggest moments was our Guardian takeover in 2018. All of the content for their weekend magazine was curated and commissioned by us, and all the [contributors] were people of color or marginalized genders, which was pretty incredible. The Guardian is this huge, mainstream, legacy publication. We already knew that we had the support of the local community, and what we were doing was really important to them. But part of what we are trying to do is shift the way that the media industry works so that felt like the first step in the right direction. It was primarily Twitter where people were sharing that they'd gotten their copy and were Tweeting their support for us, which was amazing to see.
What does it mean to be a social media manager in 2021?
Shanice Dover: Since the beginning, my work with the gal-dem community has always been an essential part of my role. We’re speaking to people who oftentimes don't see themselves in other media, whether it's magazines, newspapers, or even books or TV shows. So we've always had the fact that we are speaking to a niche-r audience at the forefront of our minds.
I think the industry as a whole now is starting to recognize the importance of community. It's really interesting how that element of social media has become so prominent across industries. It feels very early internet — people focusing on micro-communities, micro-influencers, or more anonymous spaces rather than the hyper-public. Initially, social media was just another space to tell the story, but now it's an essential space for finding stories and for tapping into conversations that are happening. Social media is definitely leading and shaping the news, rather than the other way around.
What’s the most underrated Twitter feature?
Shanice Dover: Lists, in my opinion. When I want to check in on more industry conversations, like what's happening in the world of social, digital, or online internet culture reporters, I have a list of them. It's just so useful to pinpoint some people who are reliable sources. These are the people who always have really interesting takes or share really handy resources. It's great to have a concentrated space where I know I'll find something interesting.
How do you prioritize the different functions of your Twitter account’s role?
Shanice Dover: On Twitter, we mainly share our articles. The lifespan of a Tweet is a lot faster so we can share a lot more in a day than on some of the other platforms. It’s a really big channel for us in terms of broadcasting articles, new content, and even commercial projects, and just making people aware of the variety of things that gal-dem has going on at any one time.
Twitter is also great for tapping into different discussions. A lot of topical conversation is happening there, so it's essential that we're able to see what people are speaking about. So we can either address it right then, or speak about it in an editorial meeting the next day. Our editorial practice is very mixed in with our Twitter use. We're all bringing ideas to the meeting from a variety of places, but oftentimes conversations on Twitter specifically are what we'll end up discussing and thinking about.
Is there a tweet that's so good that you recall that you wish you'd written it?
Shanice Dover: I tuned into a #verzuz battle recently, the Xscape SWV one, and liked loads of Tweets about it. The reason why something like Verzuz has done so well is because of the audience’s response in the moment. I really admire people who live-Tweet cultural events or pop culture moments. Sometimes the Tweets are more entertaining than the actual thing you're tuned into. I wish I could be like one of those people coming up with a really witty response or having the perfect GIF in the moment.
What accounts are a must-follow for you right now?
Shanice Dover: One of the first journalists that I ever really got into was Bim Adewumni. I loved her style of writing and following her on Twitter and Tumblr was an additional insight into her brain. I also love Bulo Babalola, just for the cultural insights and that kind of stuff. There can be so much heavy discourse on Twitter or online in general, so I love a bit of pop culture commentary. The people who are able to tap into that so well and are just on the nose every time are really great. Also, Taylor Lorenz is great in terms of social digital culture commentary and content.
Ok, and now a quick fire round to close out the Q&A:
Throwing friendly shade at other account: yay or nay?
Shanice Dover: Yay.
Including more than one hashtag: yay or nay?
Shanice Dover: Nay.
Using emoji to replace words: yea or nay?
Shanice Dover: Definitely.
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.