‘Omg Guys I’m Not an Intern’: How the Whitney Museum Won Over Threads by Going Goofy

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In a flash, a new social media app has emerged, poised to challenge Twitter’s status as the go-to platform for very-online people. Last week, Meta unveiled Threads, an app that functions much like Twitter, and won over 100 million users in under a week. 

Among those curiously checking out Threads are arts professionals, many of them scrambling to win a piece of this new crush of online attention.

Among the winners of the gold rush, seemingly, is the Whitney (@whitneymuseum). The New York museum took the opportunity to make itself the center of the art-Threads discussion, grabbing attention with a quip-centric, very internet-y posting strategy, e.g. “?? <— Us posting weird contemporary art knowing you can’t dm us to complain” or “Threads is my favorite social media platform because no one on here has ever made me cry.”

“I’m really trusted by our chief communications director, so I felt comfortable starting the account with one or two of my own posts, after office-hours,” Casey Betts, who runs the Whitney Museum’s Threads account, told Artnet News.

Other museums are throwing their hat into Threads. The MCA Chicago, for instance, has taken to posting memes about visiting their collection.

Screenshot of a Threads post from MCA Chicago.

Screenshot of a Threads post from MCA Chicago.

Still, the Whitney’s sheer enthusiasm has put it in the spotlight—to the point where other museums are attempting to get in on the fun.

The Guggenheim (@guggenheim) recently posted a love poem to the Whitney, accompanied by an Andy Warhol flowers painting. The Whitney quickly returned the love with its own Andy Warhol flowers painting, and its own love poem to the Guggenheim.

“People are chatty!” Betts said, explaining the appeal of the new network. “They want to talk to each other, and it feels less combative than other places on the Internet.” 

Screenshot of a post by the Guggenheim on Threads.

Screenshot of a post by the Guggenheim on Threads.

Some have been baffled by the Whitney Threads’s informal tone. “Omg guys I’m not an intern,” @whitneymuseum posted recently, replying to commenters joking about the Whitney’s bubbly new Threads persona.

But informality, after all, is the point. The tone on Threads tends casual, embodying the “rogue” corporate accounts trend on Twitter, where calculated company-speak is dropped for a more human tone, often with a hefty dose of memes (even if this tone, too, is a kind of calculation). 

“It actually fits in with our larger social media strategy, which is to reach as many people as possible,” explained Betts. “If the way to do that is to be more light in tone or be more casual, then this is a great opportunity to explore a voice that’s different than what we’d do on either Instagram or even TikTok.” 

In any case, in the war between Twitter and Threads, it’s clear the Whitney is betting on Threads for the moment.

An image of Edward Hopper's <em>Early Sunday Morning</em> posted by the @whitneymuseum

An image of Edward Hopper’s posted by the @whitneymuseum Threads account.

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