Rutgers Grad Helps Put the Jersey in @NJGov Twitter Account
Rutgers alumna Megan Coyne doesn’t remember the first tweet she wrote when she joined Twitter when she was 13 – except that it was probably pretty embarrassing, she says, because she was … well, 13.
Less than a decade later, Coyne is churning out decidedly more memorable prose (in 280 characters or less) as one half of the media team overseeing @NJGov, New Jersey’s official Twitter account, while also serving as the digital assistant who keeps tabs on Gov. Phil Murphy’s Twitter presence.
So memorable, in fact, that the Garden State's Twitter account boasts the nation’s largest number of followers – 192,118 at latest count, leaving Texas (115,793) and California (112,555) in the cyberdust.
So memorable that more than two dozen media outlets have highlighted Coyne’s tweets in articles over the past couple of months, outlets such as The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, NJ.com, The Hill and The New York Times.
“It definitely blows my mind,” says Coyne, who received a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Rutgers-New Brunswick in 2019. She believes the tweets she fashions reflect New Jersey’s personality at its finest: brash, bold and more than a little unconventional.
Take the Battle of the Bagels, for example.
On Jan. 15, National Bagel Day (yes, that is a thing), Coyne and her fellow coconspirator on Twitter, New Jersey Digital Director Pearl Gabel, used bagel emojis to outline a map of New Jersey, declaring their home state the “Bagel Capital of the World.”
The statement didn’t go unchallenged. New York City’s Twitter account quickly chimed in to claim bragging rights. The title remains undecided as the competition rages on.
we get the view AND the bagel https://t.co/4u6GoWeI7H— New Jersey ? (@NJGov) January 15, 2020
Coyne and Gabel also got a chuckle out of posting a meme of a bunny holding up a sign proclaiming that “Central Jersey is real,” and another that celebrated New Jersey’s law prohibiting drivers from pumping their own gas.
The colleagues are the ingenious minds behind this Jan. 23 tweet: “in New Jersey we don’t say ‘I love you.’ we say ‘what’s your exit?’ and I think that’s beautiful.”
And this bit of sauciness: When NJ.com posted a tweet proclaiming that “This might be the most New Jersey dish ever: Taylor Ham, egg and cheese pasta – with ketchup!,” Gabel and Coyne responded with one word: No.
The tweet that unleashed the media onslaught harks back to early December, when a poster identifying himself only as “Gary” questioned: “Who let New Jersey have a Twitter.” To which the two social-media pranksters responded, deadpan, “Your mom.”
“We knew that would go over well, but we didn’t know how well,” Coyne recalls, noting that the two-word quip garnered half a million likes over the weekend it appeared.
In the latest wrinkle, “Your Mom” T-shirts are rocking the Twitter account – in an assortment of colors.
your mom https://t.co/e1VFKac4YR— New Jersey ? (@NJGov) December 6, 2019
Coyne, a Livingston native who now calls Lambertville home, is no stranger to the no-holds-barred nature of New Jersey politics. She served as president of the Rutgers Democrats as well as vice president of Rutgers No More, which works to prevent sexual assault and domestic violence on campus and elsewhere.
“My favorite part of the job is seeing normal people respond, people saying they’re so proud of this state’s Twitter account. I even get people from out of state who say the tweets make them want to move here.” – Megan Coyne
Coyne met Murphy, then a candidate for governor, when he held a town hall in New Brunswick in November of 2016. Smitten with his message of inclusion and his vision for a progressive New Jersey, Coyne signed on to serve as a campaign intern.
Her duties included helping with general accounts, answering voters’ questions and working with Elizabeth Coulter, then the campaign’s director of women’s outreach.
Coyne went on to snag an internship with the fledgling administration and then, right out of college, a full-time position drafting press releases and helping coordinate the new governor’s social media accounts. Conquering the Twitterverse quickly ensued.
State-run Twitter accounts are not unusual. NorthJersey.com, the first media organization to report on Gabel and Coyne’s break-out success, noted that 33 other states have official government accounts, but most exist largely to retweet state-agency happenings and other fairly dry news.
Murphy launched his state’s account in April of 2018, pretty much leaving it to the two women to create not just content, but also buzz. Coyne is in touch with the governor on a daily basis to get his input and approval on his social media posts.
“My day isn’t just fun and messing around on Twitter, but that’s the best part of it,” she says.
Recently, she tweeted out the news that the first-term governor had signed the CROWN Bill, banning discrimination based on hairstyles associated with race.
Murphy is delighted with the team he calls “the architects of @NJGov,” and by the site’s “in-your-face Jersey attitude.”
“Thanks to Pearl and Megan, that voice has come to life and is resonating with the public,” he says. “We’re drawing people in with fun and humor, but also giving them the opportunity to learn about issues like health care and education. I am incredibly proud of the work our digital team is doing.”
in new jersey, we don’t say “i love you.” we say “what’s your exit?” and i think that’s beautiful https://t.co/JdTXeH9uIv— New Jersey ? (@NJGov) January 23, 2020
So how does it feel to count among your Twitter followers the likes of Bruce Springsteen, model and television personality Padma Lakshmi, ace pitcher Sean Doolittle, and Ezra Koenig, leader of the 2020 Grammy Award-winning band Vampire Weekend?
It’s amazing, Coyne says.
“My favorite part of the job is seeing normal people respond, people saying they’re so proud of this state’s Twitter account,” says Coyne, who acknowledges she basks in the praise Murphy heaps on her efforts. “I even get people from out of state who say the tweets make them want to move here.”