Fanning upstart’s following

9 September 2009

Written by: Lawrie Zion

We didn’t mean this to be an experiment, but the results have been fascinating. Although upstart is not quite three months old, we’ve already learnt a lot about building an audience base by using social media.

Instead of embarking on a conventional marketing campaign, our  strategy for spreading the word beyond the classroom has simply been to put up links to our new posts on our Facebook fan page and Twitter address. And thanks to WordPress’s “back end” we can see how these two pages then refer the bulk of our daily hits onto the upstart site. Without them, we simply wouldn’t have been able to build the audience we have.

A couple of months ago, editor Erdem Koc also discovered something that surprised us – while nearly all La Trobe journalism and media students use Facebook, the same wasn’t true for Twitter. But over the last few weeks, there’s been a big surge in the number of people and groups following upstart through Twitter, and this is now beginning to show up in user traffic as well.

Our  Twitter “follower”  list, which when I looked this morning numbered more than 260,  includes a broad range of journalists, media groups, and academics, as well as students from La Trobe and elsewhere. Our editorial team has also been following a much broader section of journalists and media practioners, which has enriched the range of “tweets” considerably. Yes, we’re hearing more about missed meetings in Vancouver, sunburnt holidays in northern France, and who George Clooney was spotted with in Venice.

But upstart’s Twitter homepage now plays hosts to tweets about an increasingly fascinating array of news, jobs (sometimes!), and developments in journalism and the media. Journalists talk about the stories they’re covering, media organisations spruik a range of upcoming events, and breaking news events burst onto the screen.

Call me nostalgic, but if you could turn the sound up, it might have something like the hum of after-work drinks on a Friday afternoon.

Lawrie Zion is editor-in-chief of upstart.

To follow upstart on Twitter, go to

To become a fan of upstart on Facebook, go to

Tell us your Twitter experiences by commenting below, or sending them to us.