DMVFollowers is a social networking tool for people in the D.C. region. DMVFollowers acts as a search engine for readers to find news, small businesses, and networking opportunities in the D.C. Maryland and Virginia area (affectionately known as the “DMV”). Started in 2010, the company was founded by two college students, Matt Talley and Jeremy Jones. A terrible snowstorm more than three years ago shined light on the growing company. In February 2010, because of a winter storm, students across the state of Maryland were advised to stay inside for days to come. It was then that Jones and Talley took the opportunity to create something while not in school. Starting out as a promotional page for local up and coming entrepreneurs and entertainers, the DMVFollowers Twitter page immediately took notice of some of the top tastemakers in the D.C. area. Once more organized and well developed, DMVFollowers shifted their social networking handles into a self sufficient business. Now with nearly over 100,000 followers via twitter, a lengthy resume’ of respected clients, charities, special events and a very informative yet sleek website, the DMVFollowers company is an example of how to take advantage of arguably the most dominant media outlet, social networking.
Matt Talley was gracious enough to take out some time to talk about the responsibility of being a local news source, balancing opinionated statements with unbiased material as well as expanding into other states.
What is the primary void being filled by the existence of DMVFollowers?
I think that the primary void being filled is the lack of representation of young adults being intimately involved in information sharing, as well as being up to speed on substantial events happening outside of entertainment. There is this idea that the younger generation is not in tune with what’s happening in our surroundings. I often hear my elders complain about how the majority of my generation has no substance, voice or foundation, and that’s what we want to bring with DMVFollowers. For the most part, my generation isn’t into reading the newspaper or watching the news. And I understand that. We’re always on social networks. So why not bring substance and foundation to that?
The following of this brand has been based around the information that is being showcased on the site and through the Twitter page. How do you determine what should or should not be posted? Walk us through the process of filtering out the bad content and bad leads on stories.
It’s definitely a process. We search for the stories that may not make the news. but you should know about. A lot of our stories are breaking news stories. So, I’ll watch on CNN or local news channels very often for leads. I watch the news religiously, so it’s easy for me to pick up a story and find the information about it. Also, with the help of our followers, we have very unique stories given to us. Many times, there have been situations where stories of missing children or critical car crashes have involved our social media followers or their friends. So, they’ll provide pictures and/or the story.
As the brand has grown, so has your brand as well as Jeremy’s. How do you balance between emerging as individuals on the social media scene and maintaining the focus on DMVFollowers?
Well my partner Jeremy, founder of GAFollowers, was never the social type. He’s always been the silent, “meet and greet” type of person. He would rather sit in the dark for 16 hours and just work. As far as me, it’s been fairly easy. Before DMVFollowers, I was already a very social person, but it has been certain times where it can be overwhelming or conflicting with my personality. But, my team and I are willing to sacrifice our personas for the betterment of our brand.
Talk about learning the preferences of your followers and readers. On a personal note, I am still figuring out if readers are reminded by tweets or if they are coming to this site on their own. Have you figured this out for your venture? And are you ever in a position where you feel that you’re going overboard with tweeting links and stories?
Our main viewers on our website are people who see our links via twitter or they man Google a story and our site is among the first results to pop up. And I like that! People go on our website for one thing: “site surfing”. I’ve had people tell me that they’ve been on our website for one thing and liked the website so much, that they just go to it daily for the latest info and events in the D.C. area. That was my overall goal for our website in the first place. Yes, the money for ad space and other things are necessary to maintain the website, but we strive to make DMVFollowers a cultural asset in our community.
You guys have expanded with the addition of GAFollowers (Georgia). Talk about that experience.
Man, it’s great. It was easier to create and maintain because of our experience with DMVFollowers. People in Georgia generally embrace anything that strives to make their area better and that’s where GAFollowers thrives. People in D.C. are more of a challenge just because of the “crabs in a barrel” mentality that has plagued our area well before we’ve came along. But we’ve learned how to deal with the naysayers and keep to our plan of making the D.C. area for our generation a better place.
DMVFollowers has not just been an information source. You all have used this platform to express your opinions on certain topics. It seemed to backfire a few times recently. Namely the tweets about Wale and his influence on the Nike Foamposite culture in D.C. as well as the tweet about the D.C. area fashion scene and the Timberland construction boot fad. Seeing that people look to you all as an official source for all things within the DMV, how do you respond to those who don’t agree with your viewpoints on issues?
Well, I often feel that our tweets aren’t really understood entirely because you’re only given 140 characters per tweet to express yourself on Twitter. This year, you’ll see more of our brand expressing our views on certain situations, but it will be via Youtube instead of Twitter. This gives us the proper social medium to explain the matter and reason behind our thoughts. I think that most of the older generation still tries to come in and intervene on our opinion, but they must understand that we’re speaking for OUR generation. And in our generation, if you pay close attention to detail, Timberlands have been a fad more than a staple in our area. Also in our generation, instead of going to the store to see when the newest Foamposites colors or dates, you’ll see Wale wear them on television months, even up to a year before they come out, and that’s when the shoe hype starts. So it’s a lot of explaining to do that Twitter can’t provide. But we accept the criticism.
What do you see as the next trend in social media? And how do you plan to respond to it?
Instagram has slowly taken over social media. We love it and so does everyone else. We use Instagram to allow our followers to see the faces of DMVFollowers and the things that we do on a daily basis. It’s much deeper than just a Twitter and website. Twitter is the fastest way to receive news and more, so it’ll be around for years to come. But Instagram is definitely the most entertaining.
What’s the key component within this venture that gives the brand its value?
The value of DMVFollowers is an immense one. With the resources and connections that we have in the D.C. area, we can be beneficial to local businesses, corporations and more. In school I majored in Marketing and I feel that Jeremy and I are the start of young creative men who know how to sell to a certain market. We strive to pick up where the latest innovators left off. DMVFollowers/GAFollowers are just the first step. They’re almost like the foreword in a great novel everyone is interested in reading. All that we ask from people is to keep reading.
What advice would you give someone or a group looking to become a news source/outlet online?
Be different. Think different. Be innovative and don’t go along with ANY of the latest trends. The best way to succeed is to create something that people need, but something that no one else has ever thought of.
Personal Twitter: @TalleyisMajor
Personal Instagram: @TalleyisMajor
Professional Twitter: @DMVFollowers
Professional Instagram: @DMVFollowers