The person behind Boston’s fastest growing twitter account: @OnlyInBOS

By: - Friday, Mar 14, 2014 - 12:01am

It isn’t your average Sunday morning coffee date when you get the chance to spend it chatting with the Bostonian behind the Twitter handle we all look to for the latest on Boston happenings. I was lucky enough to sit down and chat with the @OnlyinBOS at Pavement Coffeehouse on Boylston to find out a little more about how the account works, the success behind the tweets, and how this person created this well known Boston persona all within the constraints of 140 characters.


Let’s kick things off by asking you about the local king of 140 characters, @BostonTweet. Have you met Tom? Are you trying to do something similar to him? If not, what makes your account different?

I have not formally met @BostonTweet, but we have been at the same events. I think we both have the same goals of sharing information about Boston. I tend to balance both Boston tweets with my own personal interests that can be completely unrelated to Boston. I don’t want to stifle myself in just Boston only tweets. There are other cool things going on all around the world and I want to make sure I’m aware of that. I also tweet much more than @BostonTweet and my followers seem fine with it because my content is still organic. He has not acknowledged me in a tweet nor does he follow me, but I know he is aware of me as a lot of people tweet to both of us about stuff happening in the city.

onlyinbosVsbostontweet @OnlyInBOS has 25K followers while @BostonTweet has 110K followers

How did you get into tweeting from this account; what inspired you to start tweeting?

A year ago, I was working on startups. I felt that in order to complement a potential startup idea, I wanted to engage the Boston community. I just started tweeting about Boston. Boston in 2013 was a big year, both good and bad. (Boston Marathon, the Red Sox winning the World Series, etc.). I tweeted at the right time at the right moment and the account catapulted.

One particular tweet I sent about the police force telling Dunkin Donuts to stay open during the time of the Boston Marathon manhunt generated nearly 4,000 retweets.

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 9.47.13 PM The tweet referenced in the above answer

What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?

Check my Twitter. (We could have guessed that!) I used to get text messages with every notification- 11,000 text notifications a month (6 months ago). The account is so organic, people have rallied behind it, and people like to engage with it, it’s great.

Your engagement is through the roof compared to other accounts with your follower count. On any given day I’ve noticed a good majority of your tweets get double digit retweets, many upwards of 100+ RTs. Not even celebrities with 1M+ followers see that kind of engagement, what’s the trick?

It’s all about capturing the moment at the right time and place. It wouldn’t hurt to tag appropriate people and use the right hashtag. Sometimes increased engagement involves pictures and videos but sometimes the simplest sentence, said at the right time can capture what people are feeling at that moment.

JT @OnlyInBoston was retweeted by Justin Timberlake (30M followers) on 2/27/14

You seem to be good at finding interesting local news before most people do, how do you do it?

It’s a combination of my audience tweeting/emailing me information about events or services in Boston and me scouring newsletters and social media feeds to see what’s trending. Once I get information about an event, I try to target the right search terms to see if any other angle of the story hasn’t been covered and I’ll mostly share that.

charlie @OnlyInBOS tweets a picture of Governor Patrick announcing the start date of late-night T service

Sometimes your account can be humorously mundane. For example, you’ll tweet “just parked” with a picture of your parking ticket, what’s the point of those tweets?

Because I don’t have my face on the account, I think the audience wants to know what I’m doing. People can relate to someone who is riding the MBTA, struggling to find a parking on Bolyston, or getting nachos at a local restaurant. For followers who may be in the same building or part of the city as me, I feel their curiosity increases about who I am and what I’m doing at the same event or restaurant as them.

parked The tweet referenced in the above question

Why do you only follow verified accounts?

I wanted to track and see how many verified accounts follow me. I’ve reached over 70 right now. The blue check is a mark of Twitter royalty and I want to know who among that group follows me. Hopefully, I’ll get to a point I can receive the stamp of approval from the Twitter gods.

Has your tweeting transformed at all since you started the account?

I’ve integrated my personality into the account. I’m capturing people’s emotion in the moment. I try to find my niche in telling what’s happening in Boston. I like to use it as a positive thing. For example, during the Blizzard Nemo, there was a snowball fight going on at the Esplanade with 800 kids, and I found a photo of it. There were so many retweets, and so many Bostonians could join the conversation.

snowball The tweet referenced in the above answer

What do you hope to come of your @OnlyInBOS persona?

This is a launching platform for anybody and anything. I’m thinking of starting a website, but I want to bring more weighty pieces to that. People like twitter because it is so straight forward, but now the question is, how do you get into more detail. I really just want to shake up the digital media scene, shake up Boston. I have several ideas I’m playing with.

If you were to give one piece of advice to twitter users on how to grow their accounts, what would it be?

Always tag someone when you tweet. Don’t just write a statement. Direct it to a friend, business, celebrity, etc. That’s how a conversation can potentially start. Hashtags can be good if you are trying to be part of a conversation and not for Twitter “glitter”.

Can you share any odd/crazy stories about interacting with your followers online or in real life (or) perhaps how one your tweets caused something unforeseen to happen in real life?

I tweeted the bar where I was drinking one afternoon and offered to buy a round to anyone who found me. Someone tweeted back and said they were at the same bar so I introduced myself and bought the round.

You tweet about House of Cards a lot. Will you be rooting for F.U. in season three, or rooting for his fall from grace?

Kevin Spacey has done a phenomenal job as Frank Underwood and I’m excited to see what trouble Frank gets into and if he can get out the situation. Frank Underwood & Walter White of Breaking Bad have similar relationships with their audiences in that they are both someone you shouldn’t root for in terms of what crimes both morally and physically they’ve committed, but you are impressed by their confidence and longevity to keep it together. Season 1 & Season 2 were pretty epic so Season 3 has a lot to live up to.

underwood @OnlyInBOS tweets about House of Cards

Can you talk at all about the business of tweeting? Has anyone ever offered to pay you to tweet about them, etc? Or has anyone ever offered to buy your account? If so for how much?

Did not answer.

What do you think about the twitter platform in general, any gripes?

The mobile app needs to stop crashing. But now that I’m thinking about it, it’s probably because of the number of notifications I get. I’ve heard rumors that the Twitter UI is going to be completely revamped to almost looking like a Facebook page. I’d be curious to see how it translates to mobile. I wish there was a more formal process around getting your account verified instead of a Twitter will identify you when to get verified. I also wish there was more analytics for the average user that you can run on your followers. For example, I can see what friends in Facebook live in San Fran. Why can’t I see which followers live outside Boston or are verified, etc. I mean, there are third party platforms that accomplish that but Twitter should offer that as a standard feature.

If you had only one day left in Boston, how would you spend it?

If it’s in the summer, then I would go to Castle Island and just sit there. I would just enjoy the weather. For drinks I would go to Backbar in Somerville. I would just sit there and have an opportunity to reflect on the here and now, and also what the future holds for me. Those two spots are awesome. I haven’t really pinpointed a favorite restaurant. Maybe Boston Burger Co. (laughing). My favorite club in the city is Storyville, which is advertised as a speakeasy nightclub. It’s got a great vibe there, with the best music in the city. I also think there is something special about the people at Storyville: everyone seems approachable. I am always meeting new people there that I don’t think I would be able to meet at other places.

Make sure to follow @OnlyinBOS to stay updated on Boston happenings.