Which Oklahoma agency tweets caught the attention of celebrities like Chrissy Teigen, Ryan Reynolds and Liz Phair?
Believe it or not, it’s the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Over the past year, the Department of Wildlife has been causing a stir on Twitter.
Unlike other government agencies whose social media posts are strictly factual and straight to the point with little personality, the Department of Wildlife’s creativity and wit on Twitter rivals that of Tim Tiller, the head of security at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, whose tweets went viral in 2020.
This year, the Wildlife Department’s Twitter followers have grown from less than 10,000 in January to 63,000 since the agency began posting funny tweets.
This year, the Wildlife Department has tweeted nearly 450 times, and those social media posts have received more than a million retweets, replies, quotes and likes.
In March, the agency won a national “Golden Post” award as having the best Twitter presence among all government agencies. The Wildlife Department’s Twitter team will also be recognized at Monday’s meeting of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Now, universities are looking for wildlife department staff to be guest speakers on their campuses to talk about social media engagement.
Kelly Adams, who oversees the wildlife department’s social media team, said no one at the agency saw it coming.
“It was definitely unexpected,” she said.
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The mountain lion tweet
It all started in January when the Department of Wildlife tweeted a photo of a mountain lion in the snow with the message: “YOU are cold. They have fur. Don’t let them in.”
The tweet went viral and many Twitter users responded with their own humorous advice on how to deal with mountain lions.
“I think it resonated because it was just funny,” Adams said.
The wildlife department first launched a Twitter account in 2009, but hired its first social media coordinator in 2020. The agency found its voice on Twitter after the success of the mountain lion’s tweet, said Adams.
“We tried different things and then this mountain lion tweet kind of kicked in the door,” she said. “It was like, we can be funny. Its good. It’s great for relevance. It’s great for engagement. It’s who we want to be on Twitter. It really gave us the buy-in we needed from the leadership.”
The funny tweets kept coming. A tweet to remind people that bear spray doesn’t work like bug spray has also gone viral. It also prompted many requests from media across the country.
“Immediately my inbox was flooded with reporters from all over the country wondering what happened,” Adams said. “Did anyone pepper spray themselves. No, nobody pepper sprayed themselves. It was just a joke.”
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Adams oversees a core team of five wildlife department employees who are primarily responsible for the four social media platforms the agency is active on: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.
This social media team, a multi-generational team, is responsible for most of the funny tweets, but anyone at the agency could suggest one, she said.
“It’s not just one person creating these tweets,” Adams said. “It’s teamwork.”
As a government agency, the Wildlife Department must be careful about what it posts on social media, and Adams must approve all tweets.
“We never really know what’s going to work, but we try to use natural language, not usual for governments, to be relevant, to keep a spontaneous style and a quick response time,” Adams said.
Even some Wildlife Department employees had doubts about the new approach at first, she said. The agency’s Twitter messaging was getting dumber, but no one could deny the popularity of the tweets.
“There’s a lot of accountability here with social media,” she said. “We are a science-based agency and we take ourselves seriously. We needed our leadership to be convinced of what we are doing and to support us.”
Adams thinks the wildlife department is reaching people via Twitter who aren’t their normal audience, the hook-and-ball crowd.
“It’s exciting,” she said. “It’s sometimes difficult to reach beyond your traditional audience, especially when you’re as specialized as we are. It was exciting to engage with these people.”
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Stupid with a purpose
The Wildlife Department’s tweets aren’t silly just to be silly. There is usually a purpose behind each.
For example, every spring the Department of Wildlife sent out an annual reminder for people to leave young wild animals alone.
Every spring when babies are born, people often find young wild animals that may look like orphans, but chances are the parents are nearby.
Adams said that in the past, the Department of Wildlife would have sent its standard, direct message that you might come across young wild animals at this time of year and that it’s best to leave them alone.
“That would have been our tweet,” she said. “Three people would have seen it. Not effective.”
This year’s tweet about leaving young wild animals alone read: Sounds like a great day to REMIND THE PAGANS TO STOP “SAVING” BABY ANIMALS. THEIR MOMS ARE PROBABLY NEARBY, SO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN AFFAIRS.
‘FAONS, DROPEM’. BIRDS, LET THEM GO. RACCOONS, DON’T WORRY.
It was the same information but presented with a touch of humor.
“That’s our strategy,” Adams said. “What is the message we need to get across and how can we make it relevant? How can we make it authentic? How can we make it engaging? »
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Hollywood Takes Note
Model Chrissy Teigen retweeted the wildlife department’s post about how “hot girl summer” should purchase her hot girl fishing license. Even Hollywood celebrities took notice of the wildlife department’s Twitter account.
“It’s great that Chrissy Teigen retweeted us, but that’s not our goal at all,” Adams said.
When asked if the wildlife department’s social media team considered themselves a comedy writing team, Adams replied, “They should if they don’t… It was fun.”
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