Miss604, Rebecca Bollwitt | BCBusiness
She’s got tens of thousands of online fans and followers but Vancouver blogger Rebecca Bollwitt, a.k.a. Miss604, is actually a very private person.
Confessing to bouts of shyness, Vancouver blogger Rebecca Bollwitt knows she is an unwitting poster child for preaching the social-media evolution. Forget the showy, fame-seeking format found in other cyber celebrities: the blogs, she insists of her online handle, Miss604, currently pegged within the top-10 blogs in Canada by PostRank, are “certainly not all about me.”
Yet she is courted daily by a slew of businesses, arts groups and travel organizations hoping for free publicity among her 30,000 Twitter followers and a 2,400-strong fan base on the newly launched Google+. (Bollwitt won’t write paid content, but accepts advertising.) As the go-to expert on the medium, the 32-year-old has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, and vaunted in the Vancouver Sun’s 100 Women of Influence in 2010. She has overcome nerves to become a public speaker sought by many in Toronto (Canadian Arts Summit), Edmonton (iMedia) and across B.C., from the Better Business Bureau to Worksafe BC.
While there are no signs of this recognition abating, Bollwitt has a fallback option. “Standing up in front of people was hard but I’ve never been nervous in front of children. I would love to be a teacher,” she says with brio between bites of a Montreal smoked-meat sandwich and signature pickle at Dunn’s Famous restaurant in Vancouver. “I was speaking at some Grade 6 classes recently, and I just thought, ‘This is awesome.’” Besides, she opines, sharing information dovetails with both teaching and her blog, which was voted Vancouver’s best by the Georgia Straight for the past three years.
For now, however, the cyber world needs her. She believes more businesses are realizing the necessity of social media, but are struggling to make it work. “Many companies jumped in but then took a lot of heat about what they were putting up online,” she explains. She points to examples of people writing the firm’s blog but including irrelevant snippets about their own pets or life. “I laugh but it does happen,” continues Bollwitt, who co-wrote the book Blogging to Drive Business. “So it’s about finding that balance to make the company personable – describing an office outing or details on testing a new product – while not losing sight of the company’s mission.”
As with any blogger, a company blog must find its “authentic voice.” Citing comedian Conan O’Brien’s commencement address at Dartmouth last year, Bollwitt notes that when Johnny Carson started out, he wanted to be the next Jack Benny and in turn, David Letterman strived to be Carson; only when they were themselves did they land success.
Bollwitt grew up in Surrey and coded her first website “for fun” in 1997. Shortly after, she ditched studies at SFU to join an online broadcasting company in False Creek, before moving to its sister company in Boston in 2002 to edit financial audio online. (Despite her earlier flirtation with teaching, she has no hankering to return to academia per se: “Why would I go to classes I have now lectured at?”)
Today she also runs Sixty4media, the company she founded with her husband, John, in 2008 to develop websites using WordPress software. The pair, who met in Boston after being introduced through online friends, created the Coca-Cola Torch Relay website during the Olympics as well as sites for Pfizer, Amgen and the City of Vancouver’s 125th anniversary.
Contrary to public perception, the prolific tweeter is not online 24/7. Sure, the couple’s frequent walks together also often involve taking photographs for their accounts on Flickr, another Vancouver success story. But generally Bollwitt sets boundaries to allow her time offline – including scheduling tweets using another local invention, HootSuite (she’s good until 3 p.m. today) – and rarely tweets beyond a normal workday. And, despite “Miss604” garnering 168,000 hits on Google, to see the real Bollwitt, you’ll need to be a true friend: her personal Facebook page is on “lockdown,” open only to a select few.
“I still want to be somewhat of a private person,” she says. Then, with a quick check-in of her Dunn’s location on Foursquare (the phone app that allows users to connect with friends), she’s off to blog on the eatery – and those pickles.