Tuesday, July 16, 2024

The Genius Behind @OKWildlifeDept’s Most Viral Tweets Is Signing Off

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It was a tough crowd. So we decided to make the move to talk more like ourselves. It took a bit before it was really recognized, but we were given permission to do it, and that was intentional.

What was the feed like before you started? Was it just a lot of wildlife biology and “here’s how you can apply for a fishing license”?

It was good science, and it still is good science. It’s stuff that people worked really hard on. It just wasn’t formatted in a way that would actually make people click on it. Because Twitter, especially at that time, was a place where people went to be upset and we were just there being like, “What does your habitat look like for quail?”

[Laughs] Yeah, I bet. “Who is hunting this season?”

So a lot did come from that feeling of being like, “This is what we got for y’all. Here you go.” People were super used to, and expected to bully[ing] the government. So when I would log on to our Twitter account, I realized that there was a lot of misunderstanding of what we did. So a lot of that anger was misdirected. I think a part of the sassiness and the clapping back did initially start with like, “We’re not tax-funded” or “That’s not us.” Just trying not to take a bunch of blows that we didn’t have to.

Tell me about the voice of the feed. Is that all you?

I think the sassy replies are me. But like the initial, the first [tweet] comes from a group of everybody else. Sometimes it’s taking an idea from [someone at the organization] and then [running with it]. But once this house [gestures to the home she’s sitting outside of] literally exploded. Like all the pipes in this house exploded. So the sassy replies on that one came from me real-time being, like, “OK, I gotta save the valuables.” I think that’s when people were like, “This is kind of a Ron Swanson, like snarky caricature.” So that’s who we built around. Somebody who starts out friendly and nice, like a park ranger with a little bit of an attitude or a game warden who’s been on shift too long.

The pipes bursting came during one of your earliest viral tweets, from January 2022. It’s the mountain lion with the caption, “YOU are cold. They have fur. Do not let inside.” What was that experience like of, “Oh crap, people are reading these.”?

It was really hard because we were just trying to do better. Then when it exploded, I don’t think I was ready just as a professional and as a person to have like that many eyes on what I was doing at a time. I did take it more seriously than it needed to be. It caused a lot of anxiety, a lot of mental health issues.

How did you cope with that?

I realized as I started relaxing and relying on my team a little bit more it got better to start having those breakthrough tweets more often. So like 2022 [onward], I think we went viral with a tweet that got over a million views at least once a month. That was just the norm for us. That mountain lion one, that’s the one that is a running joke. People still quote it at that account and at me and it’s just like, “I don’t think you all realize what was happening; that was not a good day. But I’m happy you enjoyed it.”



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