CIA tweeting its funny side to the world

By : Saad Al-Dosary

They knew how to play it smart; they were funny and relevant. All it took them was one tweet, less than 140 characters to gather followers at an unprecedented speed. In about five hours, around 200,000 followed them and more than 440,000 in the first 24 hours.
You probably know whom I am talking about; it is the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States. The first tweet went like that: “We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.” It proved to be a small stone that generated waves on the social media platform.

Apparently, Americans are responding to funny tweets. That is not only a guess, a report generated by Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange noted that “Americans are more likely than the average global citizen to share funny rather than important content,” as published on Forbes. A similar study on Saudi Twitter users would not yield that different results, OK that is a guess, but it is backed by simple evidence, most of Saudi stars on the social network are those whom some would like to call “funny.” That is understandable in my opinion, many consider Twitter as an escape, an opportunity to change the mood and break away from the routine. In a bid to do so, they prefer something light and funny.

Interestingly though, the same report by Ipsos cites that the “overwhelming reason to retweet” across all nationalities is to actually share something important, not funny. However, Forbes, where this report was published, suggests that a closer study of tweets combining both important and funny might yield some interesting findings.
Now after owning the stage with that first tweet, the CIA team behind its social media presence has to decide how to deal with the awkward situations that it will find itself in.
It did not take long anyway; with the second tweet of the CIA in which they again tried to drop another funny line saying that they were excited to share “unclassified information with you” Wiki-leaks jumped on responding that they were excited to share “classified information with you!”

Awkward and funny attacks kept coming; a tweet dared the CIA to “follow” the official account of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an obvious reference to the disputes over allegations of NSA hacking the phone of the German official. Others linked the account of the CIA with groups which the United States categorizes as enemies.

Having such high profile account of a government organization that is meant to work behind the curtains will be interesting to watch. It takes me back to our local “official” presence. Mostly, there are ministries using the platform as a channel for their PR announcements, and for customer services. They are desperately trying to “look and feel” official. Now with the funny approach used by the CIA, maybe others would think about it. They might be easier to follow and relate to if they changed their style, adding a funny line here or there won’t hurt I guess … just ask the CIA.





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