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Oxford Native John T. Edge Deep Fries Social Media

Screen shot 2013-11-13 at 11.44.20 AMOne of the most popular Mississippi voices on Twitter is writer and Oxford resident John T. Edge. With more than 61,000 followers, Edge is known as a definitive voice on Southern food. He is the Director of Oxford’s own Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA) and a columnist for publications like the New York Times, Garden & Gun, Oxford American and Southern Living. If you don’t spot him around town, at places such as Honey Bee Bakery or other Oxford restaurants, you can follow his crumb trail through pictures he posts on Twitter @johntedge.

But Edge did not gain his 61,000 followers through savory and delectable food images alone. Edge’s wittiness and quick responses to followers have won him Twitter hearts and minds. Some of Edge’s followers, like Sugaree’s Bakery out of New Albany, gain inspiration from Edge’s pictures and links.

“He is definitely a trendsetter with Southern Foodways,” said Mary Jennifer Russell, founder and president of Sugaree’s Bakery, Ltd. Russell says that following Edge helps the bakery keep up with the latest in the food world.

Photo courtesy:  John T. Edge
Photo courtesy: John T. Edge

On his journey for the next best eats and who’s doing what Southern recipes right, Edge is quick to endorse food he finds delicious here in the South. While visiting Farmer’s Daughter of Carrboro, North Carolina last week, Edge took a snapshot of their sour cream biscuit with ham and bourbon fig mustard, making his followers’ mouths water.

Yet, the relationship Edge tries to develop on social media goes much deeper. According to the SFA website, the organization works to “connect us to people and traditions that many of us take for granted every day.”

Amy Evans, oral historian of the SFA, said the organization works with social media as a way to give little nuggets of information to “demystify their work and share the wonderful voices” gathered as Evans produces long-form, oral-history interviews for the SFA’s  multimedia archive.

As recently as yesterday, Evans says she picked up a new way to interact with viewers by using a pull-quote and photo from an interview and submitting it on Instagram and Twitter, which she said engaged followers reacted to quickly.

Evans describes SFA’s use of social media as a way of “finding people where they are” and sharing information with them directly.

Story contributed by Ole Miss journalism students Jordan Driggers, Tara Chills and Kristen Wilson.

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