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These ‘chaos coordinators’ keep the city of Carrollton's social media fun and factual

Kelli Lewis and Jesika Fisher.
Keren I. Carrión
Kelli Lewis and Jesika Fisher run the City of Carrollton's social media accounts. They've referenced everything from WandaVision to Ice Cube's "Bye Felicia" in their informative and engaging posts.

City of Carrollton employees Jesika Fisher and Kelli Lewis use humor and pop culture to engage with residents via the city's social media accounts.

During last year’s catastrophic winter blackout, Jesika Fisher and Kelli Lewis were like many exhausted North Texans who were huddled under blankets, waiting for power.

But unlike many other North Texans, they were running the city of Carrollton’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, using pop culture references to provide residents with engaging updates on the storm.

“You're working in the dark with no batteries left and you're having to get the message out because you know that it's important that OK we're having shelter here, your water's ok,” said Lewis, the city of Carrollton’s marketing director. “You're trying to keep going because you want them to keep going, to get the information.”

Their fun but informative posts during the winter storm led to a roughly 1,000% increase in social engagement across their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts during the winter blackout. In the thick of the blackouts, they posted daily recaps about everything from warming shelters to water availability.

Around 1,000 people started following the city of Carrollton's Facebook pageduring the winter storm and they now have over 20,000 followers. The city’s Twitter account also grew by about 500 followers during the storm and now has about 8,000 followers.

“You're saving lives, you are making people laugh, you were getting important information out to people in a way that is relatable and you're trying to be less stuffy,” Fisher said.

Posts referenced Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” – “We come from the land of ice and snow” , Ice Cube's famous "Bye Felicia" phrase and The Incredibles’ Frozone photoshopped on an icy Carrollton road.

But the witty posts weren’t just for the winter storm — the friendly persona is a mainstay for the City of Carrollton’s social media accounts. Recent posts have included references to Full House, Wordle, and Disney’s Encanto.

“We’re quirky every day,” Lewis said with a laugh.

And while the social posts are funny, Fisher and Lewis say their social media presence really comes down to authenticity and building rapport with the community. They’re just as concerned about providing accurate information, as they are about relating to Carrollton residents.

“We need people to realize we are trustworthy running your government. You are more likely to trust somebody you would have a fun conversation with like ‘oh they watch Mean Girls too,’” Lewis said.

Self-proclaimed pop culture nerds

It's been great to be able to flex our pop culture comedic muscles with each post,” Fisher said.

The Wichita Falls native, who started in her position five years ago, said she’s a big fan of comic books and looks for opportunities to reference Marvel and DC.

Lewis, whose hometown is Carrollton, is also a pop culture fanatic who grew up in a family where references to TV shows, music and movies were a way of life — even to this day.

“It’s kind of like listening to an episode of the Gilmore Girls, but daily — I talk that fast and we're cramming in that many references,” she said.

Lewis is intent on raising her children the same way. Her 9-year-old son has thrown out ideas for posts about Greek mythology. And her husband, who’s also from Carrollton, came up with the Led Zeppelin reference during the winter storm.

That receptiveness to new ideas has come in handy. To come up with ideas for posts, they track community feedback and trending hashtags. The social media experts also take a Socratic approach in the office, throwing around and challenging ideas.

“We poke holes in each other’s ideas because we don’t want to be the people that have put something out that’s tone deaf or that doesn’t meet the audience,” Lewis said.

That doesn’t mean that every post works. A few years ago, they posted about signing up for storm alerts and used a photo of the city’s water tower with a photoshopped demogorgon from Stranger Things. While some residents liked the post, Lewis said “some people freaked out” and gave extremely negative feedback.

But Fisher and Lewis say they learn from all those experiences and take them in stride. Engagement with community members is one of the main reasons they enjoy their jobs.

“It’s fun to see the resident reactions,” Fisher said. “It’s fun to see them be engaged.”

Lewis agrees that serving the community is what makes her work meaningful.

“It's for your neighbors, it's for my kids, it's for my parents,” she said. “We're all Carrolltonians and I know that audience really well because I'm one of them and I care about everything that's happening to them.”

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Got a tip? Email Elizabeth Myong at You can follow Elizabeth on Twitter @Elizabeth_Myong.

Elizabeth Myong is KERA’s Arts Collaborative Reporter. She came to KERA from New York, where she worked as a CNBC fellow covering breaking news and politics. Before that, she freelanced as a features reporter for the Houston Chronicle and a modern arts reporter for Houstonia Magazine.