How Phil Murphy’s Twitter Team Became a Viral Sensation

The state’s @NJGov account has garnered national attention for its sassy tone, on-point references and unapologetic Jersey pride.

nj gov twitter
The governor’s Twitter team, from left: Megan Coyne, Pearl Gabel and Edwin Torres. “We try to let New Jersey speak through us,” says Gabel. Photo courtesy of Edwin Torres/NJ Governor’s Office

Think “government-run social media account,” and words like feisty and funny don’t immediately spring to mind. 

So when someone sent the question “Who let New Jersey have a Twitter?” into the Twitterverse, and the official account of the state of New Jersey responded, “your mom,” people noticed—nearly half a million of them.

That reply, along with other equally punchy tweets, brought national attention to @NJGov, the Twitter account run by Governor Phil Murphy’s social media trio of digital director Pearl Gabel; deputy digital director Edwin Torres (who focuses on photo and video) and digital assistant Megan Coyne. 

Gabel and Torres started the state government social media accounts when Murphy took office in 2018. The goal: to inform, engage and educate New Jerseyans. After Coyne joined the crew in June 2019, the posts became noticeably edgier. Now, with a healthy dose of sass, wit and on-point pop-culture and Jersey references, the team has built a Twitter following of about 203,500—and counting.

Spontaneity is key. Inspiration strikes the team with what they call “Jersey bolts of lightning.” Within minutes of an idea, a post is up. 

“We don’t sit on anything,” says Gabel. “That is the way social media is. People can tell when things are too thought out.”

[RELATEDWe’re Halfway Through Gov. Murphy’s First Term. How’s He Doing?]

Quippy one-liners like, “small state BIG ENERGY,” and distinctly Jersey declarations like, “central Jersey is really really real” frequent the feed. 

Information on health care sign-ups, new legislation and other official news also appears in the feed, posted between rap-song references and “New Jersey is the bagel capital of the world” battle cries—all delivered with Jersey attitude. 

“When you say ‘That’s so Jersey,’ there’s a feeling people get. Folks know what Jersey is,” says Gabel. “We try to let New Jersey speak through us.” 

And people are listening. A typical tweet gets thousands of responses; one was even liked by Bruce Springsteen. Pictures tweeted of New Jersey from outer space elicited comments from NASA.

“The most exciting thing is seeing the reactions from New Jerseyans,” says Coyne. “We get responses every day like, ‘I’m so proud to be from NJ.’”

Says Gabel, “New Jerseyans are a very discerning bunch. Having New Jerseyans on our team is, as they say, a BFD—a big effing deal.”

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