Start-up companies always look for smart young people to join them and set the world on fire. Andie Mitchell, 26, is one of those people.
A former film production assistant in Boston, she started writing a food blog called Can You Stay for Dinner? earlier this year. The blog helped her get an internship at Foodista in Seattle because of its impressive comments and Andie’s social media skills.
Foodista promoted Mitchell to become the editor who handles all the company’s social media campaigns. She also manages a staff of four contributing editors who produce blog posts on food news, recipes and cooking, healthy nutrition, holidays and events. Many of Foodista’s tweets feature these blog posts.
Since she started in May 2010, Foodista’s Twitter followers have expanded from 10,000 to more than 143,000. How did she do it? Read on.
Q. What is the secret to writing a good tweet?
A. Tweets are most often retweeted when you evoke an emotion. A study I read recently confirmed a direct link between a tweet that incites emotion and adds value. Give your audience something valuable, tip or news. But it’s the way you tell them.You want an immediate reaction.
Q. What can people do to expand their Twitter following?
1. Tweet more often. We experimented and found that more tweets are always better. We probably send out 30 tweets a day, plus probably 10 responses to people. Create a presence and engage more often.
2. Spread the love. Benevolence begets benevolence. We want to use our following in ways that help other people. We build link love. We showcase the food blog of the day, for example, and the drink blog of the day to build goodwill.
3. Schedule your tweets and automate them. Scheduling your tweets to send in advance saves you time in the long term. HootSuite creates a spreadsheet calendar system by date, time, tweet and URL. It uploads up to 50 tweets at a time. We connect it with our Facebook fan page as well. I also use Twitterfeed.com because it allows me to post more messages than Hootsuite. Also, set up your RSS feed to make it automatic to have your Twitter feed appear on your blog and on Facebook.
4. Watch which tweets people respond to. I check which tweets people RT most often and which people respond to. I’m constantly relearning what people expect and embrace.
5. Use hashtags. People follow streams of Twitter content. You can use any keywords as hashtags. For example, when we post about gluten free recipes, we always use #gluten-free.
6. Use keywords. Put keywords in your tweets to make it easier for people to find you when they search, such as “chef,” “recipes,” and “cooking.”
7. Retweet and reply to people. Get into conversations. That positivity will come back to you.
Q. You follow almost 30,000 people on Twitter. How?
A. I use TweetDeck as my dashboard. I have one monitor devoted to Tweetdeck. I try to set times each day when I’m just looking at Twitter and Facebook: from 12 -1 p.m., and from 2-3 p.m.
Q. Is there anything you don’t you like on Twitter?
A. When people say nasty things that they wouldn’t say to your face. It happens in blogs a lot too. People are ruder on Twitter and Facebook than they are in everyday life. There’s a big bandwagon effect, where naysayers gets traction.
I also don’t like blind support for people or groups, even when they’re in the wrong.
And I don’t like an auto DM that says “thanks for following me.” It’s impersonal, it’s generic, and comes across as a little spammy.
Q. What do you say to people who say social media takes too much time, and they don’t know what the point of it is?
A. My generation is the first to embrace social media and make a career out of it. Seems to me that social media is accessible to everyone, and it’s scalable. You have a greater reach. You’re involved with people you might not know in your everyday life, and you get to participate.
It’s voyeuristic. It’s about what you are doing right now. You have to be present and put yourself out there consistently. People respond to that. When I first started tweeting, I thought it was wildy narcissitic. I’m past that now!