Twitter Glitterati and Facebook Hall of Famers

A Who’s Who look at who’s online in YK

There are two things that can happen when my alarm starts buzzing in the morning. Either I turn it off and try to sneak back to sleep, or I grab one of my two phones to scan the headlines on my newsfeed, browse through emails and try to figure out what I’ve missed in the world.

Every second people are spewing out tweets, photos, Facebook updates – from smartphones, offices, kitchens…it’s become part of the way we interact with our community. We announce pregnancies, watch weddings, air political views, document days.

But all social media participants are not equal. Some are stars. Some are boring.

If you’re an average person with run-of-the-mill breakfasts and a job that doesn’t lend itself to sharing information, chances are you may not have a lot of material to reel people in. I don’t want to hear about your home reno, your organic quinoa creation or how much you can’t fall asleep at night. But some people are using social media for the pubic good. They’re entertaining, informative and accessible. Basically, they’re giving us a reason to compulsively check our phones.

Here is my look at what’s working within Yellowknife’s social media scene.


Tasked with the difficult job of scoring people’s social media impact, I came up with a ‘highly objective’ ranking system. I looked at a person’s Twitter followers (as of print time), the amount of interaction their posts on Twitter and/or Facebook generate, and how their online presence contributes and complements their role in the community. People lost credibility the more they posted about their workouts, retweeted compliments and went MIA for weeks at a time.

Media Winner: Me (Elizabeth McMillan @elizmcmillan)    

Number of followers: 2087


Here’s the thing about social media: it’s narcissistic. It’s a chance to call attention to yourself in a universe glittering with wit and insight. So in that narcissistic spirit, if EDGE YK is giving me the platform to edge out the competition, I’m going to take it.

If you’re following territorial politics, you likely follow my work in some capacity. I’m a #nwtpoli (previously #nwtleg) pioneer in Yellowknife. I started tweeting about local news before most people realized what that meant. Now it’s part of my job as a reporter at CBC North. My thumbs have calluses built up over numerous legislative sittings, political announcements and breaking news days. Disagree? Just tweet me.

Runner Up: Chris Windeyer (@ChrisUHB)   

Number of followers: 1090

Chris slides in just enough opinion and irreverence to make the news he tweets about a bit edgier. He also knows the North well and isn’t afraid to call people on their bullshit. In between relaying what’s happening in the territory and business world, the managing editor of Up Here Business tweets about basketball, pop culture or Canadian politics. This ups the entertainment value in the legislative off-season.

Honourable Mention: Loren McGinnis @LorenMcGinnis   

Number of followers: 1361

Everyone’s favourite CBC morning personality, Loren is tweeting before you’ve opened your eyes and keeps tweeting long after he clocks out. Like Chris, Loren is a relative latecomer to the #yzf Twitter scene and has posted about 10,000 tweets in the past year. Who else would keep running tallies of hickeys versus black eyes at rec hockey tournaments? No one.

Celebrity Winner: Mikey McBryan @MikeyMcBryan   

Number of followers: 12.3K

This category was a showdown between Yellowknife-based reality stars, and this time, Ice Pilots trumped Ice Road Truckers. Mikey edged out the competition with the evident glee he still gets from the aviation industry, his newfound fame and the world travels it has brought him. His northern pride shines through. He doesn’t inundate his feed by retweeting fans, so it’s more amusing than nauseating when he does. Turns out, there are people in this world who consider the Buffalo Air crew to be certified celebrities. This is weirdly entertaining. Sometimes Mikey also posts Simpsons quotes and as someone who wasn’t allowed to watch the show as a child, it’s always good to increase cultural understanding.

Runner Up: Alex Debogoski @IceRoadAlex   

Number of followers: 18.6K

Alex boasts almost as many followers as people living in Yellowknife, but most of his tweets are straight-up promotion with little colour. Having interviewed Debogorski a handful of times, I’ve always been impressed with his ability to blend outrage and language that isn’t fit for radio. It’s disappointing he keeps that filtered on Twitter. Reading about upcoming TV appearances is low on my priority list.

Honourable Mention: Dustin Milligan @DustinWMilligan

Number of followers: 18.4K

Yellowknife’s golden boy, TV and movie star Dustin Milligan gets docked points because he doesn’t give his hometown so much as a mention in his bio (the shame) and because he doesn’t post Hollywood insider photos, which I assume he has access to.

Political Winner: Mayor Mark Heyck @MarkHeyck   

Number of followers: 1,450

In my informal polls, people sung the praises of the mayor’s social media updates. He’s no @nenshi (who is?), but like Calgary’s Twitter-savy mayor, he’s winning accolades for his prompt, passionate, personable – even funny – tweets. He’s quick to answer questions about the pace of city construction or street cleaning, but doesn’t get caught up sticking to vetted press releases with clunky wording and excessive capitals (I’m looking at you Minister @GlenAbernethy). I respect a mayor who can ask the world if it’s worth spending three hours watching The Hangover Part III, and can get carried away talking about sports.

That said, I have a sneaking suspicion former mayor Gord Van Tighem (@GVTYK is waiting to be claimed) might be a little cheekier, if he ever enters the twittersphere.

Runners Up:
Daryl Dolynny @DarylDolynnyNWT   

Number of followers: 766

Robert Hawkins @YK_Centre   

Number of followers: 895

These two Yellowknife MLAs are the most likely to tweet during session and post opinions about the day’s debate. It’s a way to broadcast their points of view and get people talking. Almost every MLA and cabinet minister is on Twitter, but most don’t post let alone engage or reach out to their audiences. Personal Facebook pages are an exception (I’ve seen more than one politician called out in comments by friends), but that doesn’t count because it involves little effort to have that social media presence.

Honourable Mention: The Dene Nation’s Facebook   

Number of fans: 2355

Although not on Twitter, the Dene Nation’s frequent posts engage people from across the North. This is a good place to go to find out about aboriginal and environmental issues across the country. It’s also a notice board for community announcements and fundraisers.

Regular Person Winner: Mel Leonard @ObscuraMentis   

Number of followers: 3036

One of my friends says Twitter is made for dick jokes. I guess that’s why he unfollowed me after a debate about electoral boundaries. Comedians like Rob Delaney and Kelly Oxford are making careers by being clever, sardonic and LOL funny in 140 characters. I doubt Leonard is making money, but he’s drawn people in with deep thoughts such as “I’d rather die at 40 than eat kale” and “My penis is an introvert.” Keep it up.

Runner Up: Larisa @larisasays

Number of followers: 4746

I have no idea what Larisa’s last name is or when she became so popular but like Mel Leonard, she has won over thousands of people online (more than double my followers). Maybe it’s the frequent quips or a few allusions to liking cats. Dozens of people respond to her tweets like “I take a morning-after-pill every time my brother uses my laptop, just in case.” Turns out it doesn’t matter where you’re from, there is universal appeal in comments like “Justin Bieber says he is proud to be Canadian. Canada shifts uncomfortably.”

Honourable Mention: Kyle Thomas @YkOnline    

Number of followers: @YkOnline: 2,575

(@KyleWith 1782)

Kyle Thomas was the first person I ever recognized in real life (IRL) from social media. Online, he’s part notice board, part Yellowknife cheerleader. He falls short of the media category but on his website and Twitter feeds, he does a good job of keeping track of what’s happening and is a perfect resource for people new to town.

Business Winner: Dave Brosha   

Facebook likes: 32,698

Photographer Dave Brosha could teach us all a thing or two about online presence. In roughly a decade, he’s gone from a self-taught photographer to an internationally-sought mentor with far-flung fans and customers. His success isn’t solely based on his talent behind the lens either. He excels at showcasing his work online. Hundreds of people like everything he posts, which he does frequently. One shot of two harried parents and their wailing newborn was viewed more than a million times and posted by 2,000 people on Facebook. Not bad for a guy who still enjoys sharing northern landscapes, local faces and, of course, the northern lights with the world.

Runner Up: Erasmus Apparel @Erasmusapparel   

Facebook likes: 2308

Scan the latest local designs, spot your friends, figure out what you’re wearing to FOTR. Win, win. Sarah Erasmus does a stellar job of showcasing her work and letting customers do the advertising. More and more, businesses (including shops such as IceBlink, Bijou Boutique and For Women Only) are using social media to showcase their goods. Every time I open Instagram I start plotting reasons to go downtown.

Honourable Mentions:
Wise Guy @wiseguyfoods on Facebook   

Facebook likes: 948

One of a Thai @OneofAThai  

Facebook likes: 576

Thanks to tweets from @WiseGuyFoods and @OneofaThai, I know where to grab a quick, delicious bite for lunch. Food trucks are like the scavenger hunt of all meals. Plus other people start doing the marketing because they post how much they liked their lunch and suddenly that wilted wrap I made in the morning can’t compete with fish tacos. Gotta #RespectYourMouth




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