Interview provides new details on search for Twitter’s government liaison

Part one of two posts based on a chat with Sean Garrett, Twitter’s Vice President of Communications. Up Next: Government Account Verification.

“If you are successful, the world will be a better place…”

That quote, from the job posting Twitter made earlier this week seeking their first “government liaison,” is a window in to the aspirations Twitter has for their first D.C.-based employee. While the announcement has generated news headlines globally and set off a flurry of tweets, blog posts, surveys, “hire me” campaigns and other activity, most if not all of the coverage so far has been limited to rehashing the 300 word job listing itself (reproduced below).

Government Liaison

Full-Time — (Remote) Washington, DC

About This Job
Twitter is looking for an experienced, entreprenurial [sic] person to make Twitter better for policymakers, political organizations and government officials and agencies. You’ll be our first D.C. -based employee and the closest point of contact with a variety of important people and organizations looking to get the most out of Twitter on both strategic and highly tactical levels. You’ll help Twitter understand what we can do to better serve candidates and policymakers across party and geographical lines. You’ll support policymakers use of Twitter to help them communicate and interact with their constituents and the world. You’ll work with nearly every group at the company and at every level to pursue your vision for how Twitter ought to be. You’ll help set the culture and approach of a fledgling public policy department and be an important part of our very small company.

If you are successful, the world will be a better place because policymakers will have closer connections with their constituents and will be sharing more information with them.


  • Provide excellent support of government and political use of Twitter
  • Advocate for government and political users within Twitter
  • Increase political use of Twitter
  • Develop best practices and other educational material
  • Do outreach to better understand government needs


  • At least 3 years (though more, even much more, is welcome) working in government or with politicians
  • Diplomatic instincts and great relationship skills
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Strong written and oral communication skills
  • Willingness to travel
  • Direct entrepreneurial or other trail blazing experience a plus
  • Fluency in technology, passion about sharing information
  • Knowledge of government and politics that extend beyond the Beltway and the U.S.

Follow for more recruiting info

Due to a fortunate coincidence in timing, Twitter’s Vice President of Communications Sean Garrett (@SG) had agreed to chat with me a bit about a pet peeve of mine (Twitter verification status for government accounts). It just so happened we connected today, just after the new/real GovTwit job was announced. I asked Sean if he could shed any more light on what Twitter is looking for from this new role, and here’s a bit of what he shared.

Q: What can you tell me about the new government liaison role that may not be in the job description?

@SG: As we said, this will be our first hire in D.C. and we are looking for someone who who can deal with the technical aspects of using Twitter, but at the same time be comfortable walking into a congressional or government office and speaking to those audiences. We want someone who can help provide those real examples of how Twitter is and can be used by government and can help government officials and agencies understand how they can get more out of their use of Twitter.

The person will need to be able to navigate political campaign organizations as well as government agencies and Congress; each group is obviously different in how they will want to learn and use Twitter.

Q: You’re hiring in D.C., is this U.S Federal focused only?

@SG: Twitter is not just interested in government from a U.S. federal standpoint, but [also] outside the Beltway in states and localities. We’re obviously global as well, and this new role will look not only to U.S., but also how other governments use or don’t use Twitter; how campaigns work/don’t work and how they translate from one level to another.

Q: Mark Drapeau, who co-chaired the recently-held Gov 2.0 Expo and works for Microsoft’s public sector practice, blogged today that Twitter “appears like a company out of touch, hopping on a bandwagon.” Mark positioned that such a corporate role isn’t necessarily relevant at this point.

You posted a couple of replies to Mark’s post, but in general, what need is Twitter trying to fill here?

@SG: We believe Twitter will be better off having a direct dialogue with public officials who use our service. And I would say that yes, the “Twitter 101” conversations are still important. Many in D.C. are eager to engage on Twitter and we want to help them maximize this experience.  And, there are some who don’t understand how to use it or where the value is.  We’d like to change this where we can. Having a point person that can help verify government IDs, someone that can be down the street to meet with officials in their office, or serve as an overall point person for government outside the Beltway is the initial goal here.

I must point out that I disagree with much of Mark’s take on this, based mainly on talks I give to a variety of audiences, where the vast majority of those in and around government have very little understanding of “Gov 2.0,” much less how tools like Twitter could be used to help them meet mission and improve communication and collaboration. Heck, I’d go so far as to say there’s still plenty of opportunity even among those deeply embedded in Gov 2.0 and Open Government movements, as highlighted over at GovLoop’s list of Federal Government New Media Managers, where a spreadsheet shows less than half tweet.

I think having Twitter appoint someone to focus more specifically on helping government better use its service can only be a good thing. Will one person make a huge immediate impact? Perhaps not, but if Twitter goes about the search effectively and selects someone willing to engage with the already robust community of GovTwits out there, perhaps they really can help make the world a better place.

– – – – – – – –

Want to read more? Block out your day, as the number of stories around this job posting are numerous. While not exhaustive, here are some of the more interesting posts, stories and commentary around the new Twitter government liaison role you may want to check out:

Government 2.0 Movement Seemingly Passes By Twitter, Inc. — Mark Drapeau’s Posterous (with comments from Twitter’s @SG)

Top 10 Requests for the New Government Liaison at Twitter — HHS’s Andrew P. Wilson offers advice

Tweeters Twitter should consider for its new government gig — GovFresh (thanks for tip of hat to GovTwit)

Why is Twitter hiring a government liaison? Thoughts from @SG and more — Alex Howard/Digiphile (with some great comments from Alex, much more eloquent than I)

Gov 2.0 and #Twitter Finally Meet! — Alan W. Silberberg/IdeaGov (fit for true Washington insider?)

Can Twitter reimagine democracy? — Adriel Hampton (pioneering political useage)

Attn Evan at Twitter, some advice regarding your government efforts — John F. Moore (jump straight to the great idea bullets)

Five Ways Twitter Can Adapt Itself for Government — IBM Center for the Business of Government

Andrew Wilson’s Top 10 Requests of the Twitter Gov Liaison — Chris Dufour

Twitter hiring Government Liaison in D.C. – Oh My Gov!

Twitter Seeks First D.C. Staffer as Founder Touts Mobile Pay Tool to Politicos — ClickZ

Twitter Hiring Liaison to Engage Government UsersGovernment Technology

Twitter Advertises For Washington Liaison — WebPro News

Twitter to hire White House liaison to help policymakers ‘tweet more effectively’ – Telegraph (UK)

Twitter seeking liaison in D.C. — Washington Post

Twitter Looks To Hire Government Liaison — Information Week

Twitter Looking To Hire A Government Liaison In Washington D.C. — TechCrunch

Twitter looking for Beltway liaison — The Hill

Help wanted: Twitter looks to hire a ‘government liaison’ — Federal Computer Week

This post was written by
  • Adriel Hampton

    Great follow-up and list of links, Steve. This kind of real reporting and dialogue is why the world needs bloggers.

  • Beth

    If @SC needs help understanding how Twitter can be useful to government, just ask NASA. We’re pioneering the new social space frontier. Send the new DC rep to us. We can provide “real examples of how Twitter is and can be used by government…”


  • Lewis Shepherd

    Steve, excellent post, great questions – way to seize the moment 🙂

    I think the important thing for both Twitter execs and the government twitterverse to keep in mind is the very last phrase from Sean in your quotes from him: this hire and her activities are simply “the initial goal here.” There’s going to be a lot of work for Twitter in laying out to its own satisfaction an engagement strategy for government at state/local levels and internationally – which, I would argue, together will wind up being more important than DC for a service like Twitter which mixes hyperlocalizing information flows with instantaneous globalization of data. Again – good post!

  • Pingback: Why is Twitter hiring a government liaison? Thoughts from @SG and more. [#gov20] « digiphile

  • Shaun Dakin

    Thanks for the interview and the list of articles about this job. Great stuff.

    People forget that until MSFT was sued by the D of J for anti competitive practices much of the Tech industry did not know where DC was on the map.

    They thought of DC as a problem and that they could always find a “work around”

    MSFT was not the first (see IBM and AT&T) that learned that having a DC office is a vital operation.

    Shaun Dakin


  • Andrea Baker

    Thank you for such a timely interview. @SG’s comments are right in line with what I envisioned the position to be when it was first announced. I also disagree with Mark Drapeau’s point of view on the position not being necessary. I see it as vital as I work with many inside the Government and give Social Media 101 training to both newbies to the concepts and to those in the Public Affairs offices that just want to know more.

    There is a market here, a big one and I see this position being someone who puts in way more than 40 hrs a week. I might even go as far as to say that I am intrigued to apply. As I see this as someone who not only needs to understand people and process, but also the technical needs of what the tool “Twitter” needs in order to be successful inside and outside of the Government sphere.


  • Adriel Hampton

    Go, Andrea!

  • Ari Herzog

    Going on a limb, I’ll argue the best person for this role is someone not listed in the GovTwit directory — someone not using Twitter today.

    By stepping into this Twitter Inc role with fresh ears and fresh eyes, more can be accomplished than with biases that tweeting only works in xyz ways.

    I’d like to see someone with both consular and lobbying experience be hired.

  • Pingback: A Beltway Insider or an Innovator for Twitter in DC? #twitgov | Gov 2.0 Radio

  • Pingback: A Beltway Insider or an Innovator for Twitter in DC? « Adriel Hampton: Wired to Share

  • Ted

    Interesting to see the nature of some of the tweeting by this group – drives home the imperative for (1) content management techniques and governance applied to outbound messaging and (2) straightforward guidance for those in this position with respect to “signalling”, as in it’s probably not very wise to constantly tweet about your location and travel habits.