Behind That Entertainment Weekly Tweet
Featuring an interview with Alexis Wilson, social media editor at Entertainment Weekly.
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Okay, let’s get into it.
“I am a 31-year-old with student loan debt, a useless journalism degree, and bills to pay. Just like the tweet and go.”
If you were online at all last week, you surely saw the above tweet from Entertainment Weekly. It was in response to Twitter user “@hickoryburger” trolling the brand’s Tweet that referred to Tom Cruise as “ex-husband of AMC ad sensation Nicole Kidman”. (Genius IMO.)
It was one of those rare brand tweets that broke the fourth wall in the most perfect way. A reminder that, yes, real people run brand social accounts.
I needed to hear from the social editor behind it.
So, with all my clues (employed by EW, is 31, has a journalism degree), I went to work on LinkedIn. This led me to Alexis Wilson.
In the below interview we talk about how EW’s response wasn’t “going rogue”, why companies shouldn't hire people they don't trust to run their socials, and why we should feel empowered to respond to trolls from the brand account.
RK: To start, mind telling me about your current role and any previous social roles you've had.
AW: I've been at Entertainment Weekly for two years now. I grew up reading EW and hanging it on my walls, so it's kind of surreal to be able to have this job and be able to do the work that I do...much to the dismay of some people 😏.
Our social team is structured so that I handle Twitter, someone handles IG, someone handles TikTok, someone handles FB, etc., and we all jump in and attend junkets and produce things like our Emoji Game. I've also started hosting some of our 3 Rounds, and I'm working on being more vocal about my accomplishments with my therapist, so you can find my interview with Melissa McCarthy here.
Before this, I was doing freelance social for a skincare startup and a fashion line before that. I've also worked at Nasty Gal and done some private work for celebrities and things like that.
I (perhaps famously?) went to school for journalism with an emphasis in PR, so I got my start there and have always focused on entertainment or fashion/beauty.
RK: You've tweeted a lot of very funny things for EW, why do you think this particular reply took off the way it did?
AW: First off, thank you! And honestly, no. I didn't even know that it had until my coworker asked if I had seen what people were saying to that guy (and I refer to him as "guy" because, truly, only a man would have the confidence to behave that way). Then my boss showed me a text from a friend who had sent her my reply, and I thought it was kind of strange because I've definitely replied to people like that before, but I just went about my day, but then it kept happening with more and more coworkers showing me texts from people who had sent the tweet which is when I knew it was becoming a thing.
I think part of it might have been that he kept his replies up, which is the ONE thing I will give him credit for (just that one thing!) because most people delete instantly, and it stops there. I'm kind of shocked by the attention it's received (your DM included!); as to me, it's no different than anything I've said to our followers in the past? I've scrolled by screenshots of the tweets a few times while on my personal account which is kind of jarring, especially when there are people saying they want to give me a hug, but I think people might just be shocked that I was allowed to say that at all. I don't know, though. I was truly just doing me. I sincerely think I'm allergic to letting people talk to me crazy. Especially men. I break out in hives.
RK: It's interesting how you just responded completely honestly (like a human!) and everyone thought it was so "chaotic" or like a cry for help. Who do people think is behind brand accounts?! I'm curious if you were surprised at all by the reactions?
AW: Yeah, I also didn't think it was chaotic at all. No one in the office even said anything to me about it until we realized it was going viral because, again, it was pretty much business as usual for me, haha. I guess people just aren't used to seeing brands do that, which is fair, but I do hope that changes.
We're people running these accounts, and I'm very grateful to have a boss/job that was okay with me standing up for myself and the writer who wrote the article. There have been times in the past when writers have slacked me apologizing because their article was met with pushback after an auto-tweet goes out, and I'm just like, "dude...don't worry about it. I'm not even able to see replies unless I actively search them out."
To clarify, I didn't write the copy in the initial tweet; it came from Jessica's article, but when I saw it was taking off I did what I do best and started having some fun.
I think this time was different for me because I realized the reason some people (men) were mad was that Jessica did to Tom Cruise what people have been doing to women for centuries: She described him using his ex-wife's merits. OH, THE HORROR! 😱. The rest of the people were upset because they assumed Jessica was being mean or shady to Nicole Kidman, I cracked my knuckles and got to work. Never that. Not on my watch.
It's really easy for people to screenshot or quote tweet an article or tweet and stir something up because we're faceless and ~just~ a brand account, and I'm guilty of it too (we all are), but at a certain point, you've gotta stop and think about what you're doing. Especially when it's something as silly as Tom Cruise telling people to go to the movies. I mean, come on, guys. It's Barbieheimer summer. We've all worked too hard to let this all fall apart now. Loosen up!
I did think it was very interesting that people were telling me to "hang in there" or to look into repayment plans or that I shouldn't have got a "useless degree." (No shit, genius.) Then there was the main guy that was trying to "dunk" on me for working for a media conglomerate, and I replied that I work for said media conglomerate because I have bills to pay just like everyone else LOL. That's it! I wasn't complaining or looking for sympathy or anything of the sort. Just stating a fact. Isn't everyone who doesn't own their own business/work for themselves working for some type of conglomerate? If someone's aware of another way to pay your bills, feel free to let me know!
I know we're ~just a brand~, but we're also not. We're people. I had moved on until I saw the guy who referred to my job as "indentured servitude." I was already at home making dinner when I replied to that one, so it was well beyond my job duties, but that one really got to me because on top of saying that to a person, he was saying that to a Black woman. A Black woman whose boss is Black and whose boss above him is also a Black woman. And there's no way for him to have known that, of course, but that's my point. The joke lands even less now, doesn't it, little fella?
And to your point, I'd love for someone to do a study on who people think is running brand accounts. My friends and I talk about this a lot, actually. Sure, I'm on the clock, and pop culture can be silly, so let's have some fun, but why are you so upset that my coworker described Tom Cruise as Nicole Kidman's ex-husband? Is that not, technically, what he is? Was he paying you to do that? Some people were upset by how she described Nicole Kidman, which I guess is how we got here, but I was also very quick to clarify that we are 100% Nicole Kidman stans. I'm pretty sure Nicole is laughing her way to the bank, as she should be. You'd think that would be enough for some people, but I guess not. Sad!
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