The @ColchesterViews Twitter account has become something of a household name throughout Colchester and the surrounding areas. The account prides itself on speaking up for the people of Colchester and holding those responsible to account. Yet, in between regular interactions with local councillors and MP’s and updating the accounts 7,331 followers on local news, Colchester Views is partial to the odd well received joke and keeping the people of Colchester smiling.
After almost a year of contact, Zero Above were able to speak to the voice behind Colchester’s online mouthpiece to discuss what makes a successful social media account. We were keen to meet the face behind the account, however it is clear that anonymity remains a priority for Colchester Views and of course we respect that, so a standard telephone interview more than sufficed.
ZA: Hello and welcome, I’d like to thank you again on behalf of Zero Above for agreeing to take part in this interview. The first thing that i’d like to ask you is what do you think it took to build up your current follower base?
CV: This is about my 100th request for an interview, your persuasive manner has won me over. So…..
In 2010, when Twitter first started to become big, I saw a gap in what Twitter offered.
Many people were using the medium to raise their issues, but I thought there would be many others that couldn’t, or wouldn’t due to their employment. The Follower growth has been gradual.
ZA: Do you use any forms of software or programmes to help manage the account such as hootsuite or tweetdeck – if not why?
CV: I use no software, it is just a hobby.
ZA: Do you plan your content in advance or is it more a case of creating posts as things happen?
CV: All spur of the moment, we have many people who use us privately to share information and people turn to us to try and help. We have a host of influential people who we talk privately with, so it is possible for an individual to raise a sensitive issue through us and stay completely out of it. After many years of building up trust, people are keen to share information in the knowledge that not only are we anonymous, or private as we prefer, but their issues will also be treated in the same manner.
ZA: Was there a specific moment where the account ‘blew up’ so to speak. Was it a single post that saw lots of growth or was it gradual?
CV: It has always been a slow burner. The key is accurate information to share. That info only ever comes from our followers.
ZA: Has money ever been a factor in running the account, such as people offering to buy the account or pay you to promote products or services?
CV: We have been offered money for the account, but that would only buy 3 boxes of cereal so we are staying out for now.
ZA: What do you think is the key to creating a successful social media account?
CV: Don’t know the answer to that one. Be kind, even when you’re wound up. Have a good sense of humour and don’t take it seriously.
Twitter can be nasty and vicious. Political people are the worst, some attack with their words and some use horrible direct messages.
I’d like to think I give all political types of all colours a bit of a run around. The problem with that is when you are having a pop at one colour, they scream and shout how we are against them, and the others like and retweet the tweets.
As long as we have a way that people can report things & keep their own names out of it, we think we have something.
One follower, sent us a message and said we were always “warm & kind” that’ll do.
ZA: What’s the key to maintaining the account?
CV: There is no major marketing strategy going on here, just some people, keen to help other people, having a bit of a laugh and joke and occasionally getting wound up about the issue of the day. Ultimately, it’s not very important.
ZA: What’s next for the Colchester Views account?
CV: What’s next? We look forward to finding a missing dog, or sending a tweet that stops drivers getting stuck in traffic or helping to get your rubbish collected or maybe even your pothole repaired. Exciting times ahead.
After the final question, Colchester Views went on to say how fond they were of Colchester MP, Will Quince. The account made it clear that they do not agree hugely on many policies but admitted that they admire that the people of Colchester can tweet him and he responds. They said “we are lucky in Colchester to have an MP who does that. I hope that continues”.
Again, we would like to thank Colchester Views for speaking to us and giving us such great insight from what is ultimately an incredibly successful and constantly growing social media presence. Having been able to speak to Colchester Views directly, they come across as an individual that just cares about Colchester and the people that live here.