Among the most frequent criticisms levelled at Twitter’s upper management is that those in charge fundamentally misunderstand the platform, what it does best, and the myriad ways it fails its users daily.
That can best be expressed through the approach the company, and in particular, its CEO Jack Dorsey, takes in attempting to fix its issues, be it white nationalists organising on the platform or inconsistent enforcement policies around harassment and hate speech.
Often, Dorsey pledges in press interviews and on his personal account to work harder on solving Twitter’s biggest problems, only for those solutions to ultimately manifest as benign and largely meaningless user interface tweaks — effectively Band-Aids on bullet wounds.
But another facet of the problem is communication. Twitter is bad at understanding what’s wrong and how to fix it because it often employs people who either do not use the product or don’t understand how to communicate publicly to the people who do. Twitter’s head of product, infamously a job no one can keep for more than a year it seems, has never been filled by someone with a strong vision for the future of the platform and how it should arrive there.
That is perhaps why Twitter is now calling for applicants to apply to become the company’s “Tweeter in Chief.” The company’s new position, a listing for which went live today, describes the role as one where you’ll “set the tone of who we are and how we act, and talk to people on Twitter,” using the handle @Twitter. The company says it wants someone that is “extremely plugged into Twitter culture, stan culture, and culture in general,” as well as someone “obsessed with building communities and how content travels on the platform.”
In the age of brands engaging in disturbing levels of personified intimacy with users on social media to package and sell mental illness or fashion consumption as a radical act of self-expression, Twitter itself is realizing that it needs some of the same marketing magic its platform has gifted fast food brands. streaming services, and cookie companies. That or Twitter wants its own Wendy’s chicken nugget or Instagram record-breaking egg moment.
“You are a master in the art of Twitter, and want to take that passion and expertise to the ultimate, meta level of @Twitter,” the job description reads. We can only imagine that involves posting a lot of tweets like this:
It’s unclear whether this role would involve disclosing your identity; given the rise of brands using the first person point of view, it seems unlikely the job description includes attaching your name to official corporate tweets. That said, it appears Twitter is looking both for someone to have some more fun with its official handle, which is usually mired in yawn-inducing product update minutiae, and be capable of communicating changes to the product in a way that actually resonates with users. I’m not sure what that mix looks like, but it’s necessarily more complicated than your average self-aware @Dennys joke or @Netflix dunk.
Just take a look at some of the account’s other recent big hits. The trend seems to be somewhere between AI program parading as human millennial and savvy communications employee who just pored over recent Know Your Meme entries:
Whatever the logic here, it works as far as engagement goes. A standard Twitter product update post from @Twitter gets in the low thousands of likes and far fewer retweets. That’s not a good look for an account with 56 million followers. But the above tweets show off the level of popularity @Twitter can accumulate when it’s just goofing off and pretending to be hip and extremely online friend, instead of a human being paid to pretend like it’s a brand pretending to be a human being.
Twitter may have fundamental issues it needs to work out regarding how it handles speech, who it permits on the platform, and what design changes, be they radical or subtle, may create healthier conversations. But it almost certainly can’t hurt to have someone who’s more steeped in online culture take over its primary communication channel.
Let’s just hope it’s not another Band-Aid, and that whoever takes on the role is able to better communicate why the company makes certain decisions and how it plans to improve. Because amassing likes and retweets for a timely meme won’t do much to fix any of the platform’s endemic issues or create a more productive two-way street between Twitter and its user base.