We’re subject of the ‘five minute feature’ in today’s Gloucestershire Echo – you can also read the article online here.
@Chelt52 is a ‘rotation curation’ Twitter account.
It’s a fancy term for a simple concept, explained 26-year-old co-founder Liam McKinnon.
One tweeter takes the reins of the account for one week of the year – hence ’52’.
“You have a different spokesperson for the town each week,” said Liam.
Sophie Fryer, 24, is Liam’s other half – both in terms of Chelt52 and in the other sense.
The two first met at school in Bishop’s Cleeve but became an item two and a half year ago.
Both social media fanatics and inspired by frontrunners in the rotation curation game, such as @Bristol52 and @PeopleofSweden, the pair decided to set up an account for Cheltenham.
It’s now in its second year and has gathered more than 10,000 followers.
After having the opportunity to tweet from the account two weeks ago, I spoke to Sophie and Liam about what it’s like to be at the head of the social media project.
“I’ve always been constantly on Facebook and more recently Twitter,” said Sophie.
“I was always interested in social media so Chelt52 was second nature.
“Sometimes I think I can only think in 140 characters.”
The pair don’t make any money from the account and do it purely out of enjoyment.
Liam said: “I’m really proud to be from Cheltenham and I really enjoy social media so Chelt52 is the perfect blend.”
Are they not keen to capitalise on the popularity of the project?
“I think if we started asking people to pay for a week on the account it would take something away from it,” Sophie said.
“You’d alienate a lot of people. It would become more of an advertising platform then because if someone’s is paying for something they want to see results.”
Liam added: “People are cynical, especially online. If followers knew people were paying for a week they would just see it as a money-maker and not be interested.”
Advertising and self-promotion are factors Sophie and Liam are keen to avoid on the site.
But both Sophie and Liam feel this is kept at bay by the application process.
“We want it to be about what people love about Cheltenham,” said Sophie.
The couple have been inundated with applications.
“When we started it we weren’t even sure if we’d fill 52 weeks,” said Liam.
“Now I think we could already fill half of a third year from the applications in our inbox.
“What that means is that we can be selective with it. We can pick who we think would be the most entertaining or informative.”
So who’s been the best?
The decision was unanimous: a vicar who took over the account at Christmas.
“We were worried about filling the Christmas week because we didn’t think anyone would want to give up their time,” said Liam.
“We got a vicar, Philip Smith from a church in Hester’s Way.
“He was the funniest guy. He was so entertaining.
“He wrote poems on there. He really took to it and he talked to loads of people.
“When you interact with people it makes it a whole lot more interesting for them rather than just putting out a lot of messages.”
Coming up this year are some big Cheltenham names including Cheltenham Races, The Regent Arcade and Cheltenham Literature Festival who will be tweeting the week of the event.
Liam said: “They’ll be behind the scenes at the festival so we’re looking forward to seeing how they use it.”
But it’s not just open to organisations or big groups.
Sophie said: “It’s nice to have just people from Cheltenham as well as organisations. We found that people seem to be a lot more engaging than brands.
“It’s good for accounts that perhaps don’t have a very big following on Twitter. It’s a great platform to get your message out and then get more followers from it.”
“We also like to be diverse,” said Liam.
“There was a spell in the first year where we went from the band Trill Collins to the police force to All Saints’ Academy to a bakery. We want it to be something different each week.”
There are still weeks up for grabs in December.
Liam said the ideal candidate would be someone who would be inventive and do something different.