Meet the Staffer With 50,000 Followers
(Photo by Jensen Sutta)
While plenty of folks in Washington have amassed a five-figure Twitter following, to do so as a staffer is no small feat.
Yet Amanda Carpenter, who was recently promoted to communications director for Senator Ted Cruz, has roughly 53,700 followers — more than some of the senators who pass her in the halls, as CQ Roll Call noted back in February.
That’s an accomplishment that should make every association staffer — and maybe all staffers, everywhere — pay attention.
A One-Woman Platform
The value of Carpenter’s following is hard to overstate. A staffer in Congress or elsewhere with a massive social media presence is like a salesperson with their own large book of business: they can move the needle all by themselves.
Carpenter’s actual reach when people are tuned in to Cruz & Co. could theoretically run to hundreds of thousands of people. That would be a powerful asset to any employer, whether on Capitol Hill or in the advocacy world. And it won’t hurt in a job search, either.
“I’m just in the middle of an office that is doing exciting things,” Carpenter said. “I can be a bit of a news source, with a bit of insider perspective.”
She describes her Twitter presence as “cheery and upbeat, but hard-hitting, too.” And she’s not kidding. For example, when Politico included Cruz in a story earlier this month under the headline “GOP 2016ers on Ebola: Panic,” Carpenter responded with five hammering tweets, complete with links to documents.
“But hey, don’t let the facts or silly things like oh, Ted Cruz’s own words and statements get in the way of a PANICKY headline!” she wrote.
Yet, while Carpenter’s abilities on Twitter are undeniable, it takes more than a bit of wit and bite to amass 53,700 followers, especially when tweeting from Congress. Carpenter had a few things working in her favor, not the least of which is Cruz himself.
The Texas senator (who has more than 300,000 Twitter followers) makes a great deal of news, and Carpenter is quick to credit him with giving her the freedom to tweet as she wants. That’s no small thing on Capitol Hill — or anyplace else in Washington.
“We’re not afraid of putting it out there,” she said. “If you know what you believe, it’s not hard to message it.”
Building a Following
Carpenter also has a media background. She began writing as a conservative in college and went on to be a reporter and columnist for The Washington Times and the author of “The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy’s Dossier on Hillary Clinton.” She had a regular slot on Fox News’s The O’Reilly Factor.
When Carpenter moved to the hill, she worked for former Sen. Jim DeMint, the South Carolina Republican who was also no stranger to media coverage, before joining Cruz’s staff.
All of those jobs are fine platforms on which to build a following, which Carpenter has been doing since 2008. But equally important, Carpenter seems to have aligned her personal values with her professional life extremely well, seemingly eliminating the tug that many people feel between personal and professional on social media.
As Carpenter put it, “Twitter is a medium where you can’t hide who you are.”