They top online rankings

(Left) Low Kay Hwa, author of Singapore Love Story, which was top on the list of most downloaded books on Google Play for this year. (Right) Mr Herbert Rafael Sim, the managing director and founder of WTFSG, the top twitter account with the most followers in Singapore.

WTF? He's Sg's Twitter king

It may sound a tad rude, but WTFSG is the Twitter handle for the most-followed account in Singapore this year.

Managed by Mr Herbert Sim, 28, WTFSG stands for WardrobeTrendsFashion, and is a high fashion and luxury lifestyle online portal based here.

With more than 530,000 followers, the account pipped those belonging to local singer JJ Lin (348,000) and The Straits Times (379,000).

Mr Sim, 28, said: "When I read about the ranking two weeks ago, I was actually quite shocked. But I feel really blessed and honoured."

The popular account tweets links to articles put out by the WTFSG website.

The news site focuses on the arts, culture, lifestyle and fashion industry in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore mostly.

Mr Sim attributed the success of the site to various factors, including article syndication by online platforms.

Asked if he buys Twitter followers, Mr Sim said he does not.

Instead, he welcomes a Twitter "purge", similar to the one Instagram recently underwent, where accounts which post links and spam - especially bot accounts - were deleted.

"We hope that Twitter will do a cleanup as well. We follow many people as well, and we can't really tell for sure if some of their followers are real or not."

The WTFSG team in Singapore comprises seven people, including Mr Sim and his fiancée, Ms Vanessa Emily, who is its editor-in-chief.

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They started the site - which is sustained on advertising revenue - in 2009 when he was pursuing his bachelor's degree in mass communications at Oklahoma City University.

His start-up cost was about $1,000, he said.

"I wanted to create a lifestyle magazine to be distributed to students. But I took it online as the reach is wider."

While WTFSG is not well-known here, it is linked to US music channel MTV.

The bulk of its followers are from the US, said Mr Sim, who is also listed on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) as the producer of seven short films.

He worked on them during his stint in the US.

On garnering such a large online following, he said: "In Singapore, there are only about 150,000 to 200,000 people on Twitter.

"So to tap into the overseas market, we have to regularly raise awareness of our brand when we travel to cover events."

He added that sometimes their tweets enjoy re-tweets and "favourites" that go up to the thousands.

As the founder of a high fashion website, Mr Sim admitted he feels pressured to dress up.

"We have to wear something different for every event.

"We get sponsorship from brands and labels as they want to get their stuff featured."

The most expensive item in his wardrobe is his Hugo Boss suit, which cost about $8,000.

He also has a soft spot for his $17,000 Hublot watch.

To increase WTFSG's readership and audience reach, Mr Sim looks to Vogue magazine and news website Mashable for ideas.


This article was first published on December 23, 2014.
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