Jul 112011

Andie Mitchell, 26, grew Foodista's followers from 10,000 in May to more than 140,000 today.

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!

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  61 Responses to “Adding Twitter Followers by the Thousands”

  1. Following 30K people! *eyes bugging out of my head*
    What tool or service does she use to determine which tweets are retweeted the most?

  2. Working Twitter and Facebook for networking is like networking in real life and follows the same rules: understand how to approach people and communicate (as Andie hints: don’t do or say anything on Twitter you wouldn’t do or say in real life, face to face), respect others, share and be positive. I totally believe in her point “Benevolence begets benevolence.” Twitter is a community and we should treat it like one and act accordingly. We can certainly decide how much of ourselves to “expose” on any social media platform, but in my opinion it is hard to hide one’s true self. I have witnessed bloggers destroy their reputation on twitter by being rude or much too aggressive in their self-promotion. Kindness and altruism does indeed show through. Social media is really like anything: you have to decide what purpose you want or need it to serve and make it work for you.

    Great interview of a person I have grown to know very well and simply adore! i am very excited to be able to finally meet both you, Dianne, as well as Andie at IFBC!

    • I have witnessed that as well. I have learned not to respond to people who bait me, for example. Why not apply the old rules of communication, as you suggest? It’s the decent thing to do. But some of these people are just clueless, I hope, and will learn how to use social media to their advantage. We’re all learning.

      I met Andie only recently, through her invite to IFBC. Looking forward to meeting you at last, Jamie.

  3. Great post, thanks Dianne and so very helpful. As a (slightly) older user of social media, I have struggled to learn how to best use it, but have been terrifically impressed with the difference it makes and some of the opportunities it has given me. I have yet to fully understand Tweetdeck , but will now spend some time wrapping my head around it – I guess I’d better work out Hootsuite as well. 😮 !

    • I am older too, and only recently installed Tweetdeck, even though Jaden Hair explained it to me three years ago at the first BlogHer, when I saw her screen and asked her what she was doing! She is another blogger who follows thousands.


  4. I feel the same as Amanda about wrapping one’s head around social media as a method for reaching out to vast potential audiences. As an (extremely) older user of new technologies, I find it fascinating how things have progressed, from the academic isolation of USENET in the 80’s to Twitter, Facebook and now Google+ in the 10’s.

    Dianne’s interview with Andie will be very helpful in learning how to expand one’s use of these new techniques and keeping one old dog learning new tricks.

    • Thank you, Richard. I have been invited into Google+ twice and don’t know if I can handle yet another communication form. I’ve already got 5: email, Twitter, my blog, Facebook, and my Facebook fan page. You probably have the same. But all are satisfying and addictive, I have to say. Oh yes, and real life. That’s a big one.

      • Dianne, I must say I was annoyed at finding out about Google+ as yet another platform to handle… I already have a hard time keeping up with all the rest AND managing my time. But I had my first group video chat today (5 of us in 5 different countries) and, unlike skype where we can only hear each other’s voices on Google+ we could all SEE each other! I fell in love! Yes, they are certainly addictive!

        As one of the “older” crowd, I do think that those of us with 20 or 30 years experience networking in real life, face to face, do handle networking on the internet virtually in a very different way than the younger crowd who are starting their professional lives via internet. I’d love to hear what others have to say about this.

        • That does sound good, Jamie. I guess I’ll see about it, but later. I must not be one of those early adopter types.

          Re being older with a professional life on the Internet, we still have to get with it like everybody else, if we want to succeed.

  5. This was an eye-opener – I have a twitter account and barely use it because I probably don’t “get it.” It seems to be a generational thing – although my 20-something kids don’t “get it” ether! Kudos to wise use of the tool and avoiding being a spammer. I like that she tries to add value to every tweet. Now how does one master that?

    • Master by doing, Claudia. Include links to web pages your followers might like. Take a look at her Tweet wall to see the master at work.

  6. I think that understanding social media forms is just looking at them as channels that people choose to receive information. In the past we were passive recipients of information now we are selective about what we want to receive and in which form it is delivered to us. If you are not using these tools you miss out on engaging with certain groups of people. In fact if you don’t offer the medium of choice you may actually alienate. These channels will change. I have gained an awful lot from Twitter and agree with Jamie that you can’t hide behind 140 characters – it’s very revealing. Whether networking, engaging people with your message or gathering key information, it’s a valuable resource. Twitter and Facebook are dominant now but new media is adapting to changing needs at a phenomenal and exciting pace. My teens think Twitter is ‘for stalkers’, are starting to use Facebook less and less but have embraced Tumblr with gusto.
    Thanks for an interesting and informative interview – kudos to the ‘smart young people’ like Andie Mitchell who have seen the potential of these new tools to reach their goals.

    • Thank you, Sally. Yes, we have to be flexible and keep up. Today it’s Twitter, tomorrow it might be Google+. I’ve noticed, in both Twitter and Facebook, that photos are playing an increasing role, for example, and have vowed to add more.

      I am not an early adopter. In fact I remember writing in my newsletter that I didn’t see the point of Twitter at all. It must be connected to age.

      Interesting that your kids love Tumblr. I need to spend more time understanding it.

  7. Love this guest post Dianne. I think the employment of Twitter can be a bit elusive for people though it is such an easy form of social media to exercise. Having Andie’s expert and proven tips makes this a perfect primer for those wishing to dip their toe in the water or to refine one’s usage to make it the most fruitful. Thank you!

  8. Thanks for sharing Andie’s perspective, Dianne. I believe in the collaborative power of social media… just trying to figure out how to harness it and master it as an individual manager!

    • Yes, that is the question. Just reread what she said at the end — she no longer thinks it’s narcissistic.

      • I’m not hung up on the narcissism. As a believer in the communal nature of social media, I’m over that, too. It’s more that I’m not sure how to build a big following as a singleton.

        • You have a brand, right? It’s all about you and your brand. And about having fun and letting people know who you are.

  9. Thanks for sharing such informative post about social media and its power. Lovely interview.

    • Thank you Sanjeeta. I suppose the next question is — now that you have amassed all that power, what are you going to do with it?

  10. You have definitely inspired me to Tweet more! Good job, Andie! That is an impressive accomplishment!

    • Pretty amazing. And it’s counter-intuitive. I would not have thought that about tweeting more rather than less.

  11. This article has really helped me in knowing more about social media…Thanks..
    I will surely try these tips…

  12. Thanks for the great tips! And congrats on doing such great work!

  13. Great interview. Loved reading it. I must say twitter or any other social media, its important that we stay true to ourselves, which often I think forget in lust of becoming the next big twitter person 😉

    • Yes, I agree. But I also think some people think promotion is “not being true to oneself,” and we have to get over that.

  14. I have to say, I admire those who have an innate (and also learned) understanding of how to best use Twitter and the passion to follow through. I have to admit that I’m one of those people that as much as I understand about what to do with it, I lack the drive to actually do it. It’s just not as enjoyable to me as following other blogs, writing my own, and even mastering code. I know I’m short changing myself with this, but hopefully one day I will eventually get there.

    • Maybe you have not set goals for why you want to amass followers in the first place, Kelly. Until you can come up with a good reason, I don’t blame you a bit.

  15. Just the kind of post I need right now! I’m very new to twitter, tweeting, retweeting…tut tut!! But I must make friends with it. My food blog is just a couple of months old, and the food-blogging community on twitter would be wonderful to get to know! Thanks for the post!

    • You’re welcome, Pia. Food bloggers seem to be particularly good at Twitter, so yes, I hope you use it to full advantage.

  16. Great and informative feature! What an impressive amount of growth in such a short time!

  17. I can not imagine even reaching 10,000 followers right now ! What a great success Andie. I feel weird about promoting my blog or myself to others, I can not even talk with friends about my blog. I always think I am being boring and self-centered. I might be too self conscious.
    Thanks for interviewing Andie, Diane. So much to learn from the younger generation!

    • Well, it is a company blog, not her own personal blog, but still, it’s a super-impressive achievement, I agree.

      Marketing is part of having a successful blog, so I hope you can get past feeling self-conscious about promoting your blog, Ilke. Andie mentions at the end that she had to get past feeling narcissistic — if she can do it, you can too.

  18. Terrific post Dianne, and thanks to Andie for sharing her tips on using twitter to build followers and readership. I’m pretty good with Facebook and am trying to improve on Twitter. Her tips really make me think. Discovered Tweetdeck in January but honestly have not started to use it. Guess I need to. I realize that today social media is critical for success. I enjoy employing it and am using it to leverage growth, but managing and using it can become all consuming!

    • Thanks Sally. Yes, it’s hard not to get sucked into Twitter every day. For me, it’s been a great way to announce my blog posts and have discussions with people when I feeling dipping into a conversation. You are already doing so well with your blog and Facebook, so it should be a small learning curve.

  19. Dianne, great interview and post. I wish there were resources that had tutorials on all the social networking devices. Such as Twitter and using all of its supporting materials (is that what they’re called?? i.e. TweetDeck, deckly, Hootsuite, etc..), Google Plus, Stumble Upon, FB fan page vs. regular page, etc…..I would even be willing to take a class. I’ve learned a lot from IACP and conferences but neither of those were with my laptop. I think some hands-on tutorials would be nice! Or even a blog with a troubleshooting guide and step by step pics? Maybe all that is already out there………

  20. This is the first time stopping by this blog and I’m LOVING IT. Such a great resource! This post is great because although I should be young enough to get the hang of twitter…seriously I just did not really understand why it was so great but just added it as another way of connecting to my blog followers. It is way bigger than I ever imagined! I am def adding your blog to my list to follow.

    Thanks for posting and check out my site too! :-)


    • Thanks Amanda. It’s good to know that someone younger than me did not get the hang of Twitter right away! Good luck with it.

  21. Hootsuite is amazing for someone who is starting to use social media more (and it will show you click throughs and retweets) so I like that.
    What a smart girl! I’m glad Foodista picked her up. Thanks for sharing, Dianne.

  22. […] anyone interested in growing their Twitter following, check out this interview (by Dianne Jacob) with Andie Mitchell, a woman with mad social media […]

  23. Thank you so much for the great article/interview, Dianne. I am still struggling to figure out how to best use Twitter as my time already feels so fractured. Loved Andie’s tips. Will definitely put some of them to good use.

  24. Dianne,
    This is a wonderful, informative, clear and concise article. Even after reading this very well written, easy to understand article, I STILL don’t get Twitter. I use Twitter. I post on Twitter. I reply to tweets and I retweet. But I just don’t get it. My followers are increasing almost daily and I don’t understand how to make any sense out of their tweets (which I find to be a very annoying name for a type of communication). Most certainly, it’s a generation thing. I’m in the “I don’t get Twitter” generation. Perhaps I should subscribe to some Twitter service like TweetDeck. I just don’t get it. Still.

    • What do you mean by “get” it, Jackie? Do you mean enjoy it? Do you mean you don’t know what it’s doing for you? Tell me more. It’s not generational because I’m old and I do it and enjoy it.

      • Dianne,
        I don’t know how to manage the feed. Maybe I am following too many people but I follow everyone who follows me. It seems that I rarely see tweeps from the people who interest me , however, my wall or page or whatever it’s called in Twitterville, is filled up with tweeps from everyone else. It seems that I should probably make a “list” but I can’t figure out how to do that. Also, I don’t get a lot of traffic to my blog from Twitter. So maybe I don’t know how to tweet or tweep or twitter after all!

        • Aha! That is the point of Tweetdeck. You can prioritize the people you follow in columns. It works.

          Re followers from Twitter, do you announce your posts on Twitter? That’s what I do. It drives traffic so that by the time the post arrives in peoples’ mailboxes, comments have already appeared. I think that makes it more likely more people will comment.

    • Ok.. so I almost read all your article until you said something about “generation thing” Hey my mom is almost 60, 58 to be exact..(I hope she doesn’t trackback me Lol) and she knows more of Twitter than most students at college believe me… so it’s not a generation thing and it’s just perhaps that you still haven’t found a genuine interest of what you want twitter for… Twitter is not like Facebook you know.. maybe that was its purpose but as you see, now its totally just a huge market. But there’s still a lot of ways to find quality and legitimate followers even by zip code. That’s how I stay updated with the ‘happy hours’ lol.. Well, nice article and thanks Andy for the Twitterfeed tool.. Just started using it in one of our blogs..

      • Your mom sounds pretty cool, Leml. I worked with someone in his 70s who couldn’t figure out why he should Twitter, so maybe I’m thinking of people way older! But it’s true, you do have to think there’s a purpose to using Twitter, and enjoy using it for that purpose. Thanks for writing in.

  25. […] Adding Twitter Followers by the Thousands by Dianne Jacob […]

  26. I use the correct hashtags when they’re trending and the keywords tips is also good. If you have a business try to always include one of your keywords in your tweets as the status of your streaming Twitter account can be indexed by major SE’s.. Nice article Dianne. You truly nailed it.. Thanks for sharing!

  27. This piece of writing will help the internet viewers for building up
    new blog or even a blog from start to end.

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