It seems these days its hard to go anywhere without someone asking about the growing use of social media in our lives. Some people will trivialize it and say its just all about people saying what they had for breakfast, lunch and tea and therefore it’s not of interest to them. Some will say it’s too much like hard work and they don’t want to get involved. Why add yet another thing to do to their daily list. Some will just sigh and admit that they have a Facebook page, or are LinkedIn or started tweeting but really just don’t get it. And some have never started and don’t want to. Then I always get that look – “You are into Social Media” as if I am an expert in some unknown art or witchcraft.
Well you know for me Social Media is simply a communication tool but a communication tool that allows you to communicate to a wider audience than you will have ever been able to communicate before. And not because that audience want to know what I’ve just eaten for lunch. But because you connect with people who share the same interests as you. Take Twitter. I have had a twitter account for a couple of years now. https://twitter.com/FionaDrane#. I have a range of interests which include communications and marketing (work), where I live (Scottish Borders and Scotland), reading books (fiction mostly), cooking and shopping local and Tourism among others. So the people I tweet (or communicate ) most with on Twitter tend to be interested in either one or some of the above. This point is perhaps best illustrated by #scotlandhour.
#scotlandhour takes place the last Wednesday of the month from 9pm to 10pm on Twitter using the hashtag #scotlandhour. It was started by Douglas Baird who commenced #scotlandhour in August 2011. Douglas is passionate about Scotland and wanted to share this with a worldwide audience as well as encourage tweeters in Scotland to share their best stories, places and things to do. Quickly a group was formed Mark Calpin, Susan McNaughton, Aileen Lamb, Lesley Judge and myself. Who along with Douglas became the #scotlandhour team. Since then #scotlandhour has grown and grown with the February hour reaching 596,000 people across the world! I was delighted and so proud when last week on the 7th March #scotlandhour was debated in the Scottish Parliament with a debate raised by MSP Christina McKelvie. http://www.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/scotland-21699663. The whole #scotlandhour team were together for the first time face to face to hear this debate and celebrate this achievement. But why are we all involved?
Basically because we all share a love of Scotland and want to share it with a world-wide audience. I have loved Scotland since I can remember as most of my holidays were spent in Scotland which has given me a life long love of touring the country. Such was my passion for Scotland even at a young age that my mother remarked that I should make a career out of it as I laxed lyrical about Scotland to my French pen pal as we took her on a day trip to Inveraray. Tourism as a career was quickly dismissed from my young teenage mind only to return in my student days when a friend (and then bestman) showed me a job advert for a summer job for the Scottish Tourist Board and said it would be the ideal job. The rest is history as they say and I was to go on to work at the Scottish Tourist Board, then Edinburgh Tourist Board, Scottish Borders Tourist Board and then return full circle to VisitScotland (formerly Scottish Tourist Board) before setting sail for new adventures at Bright Light Marketing. Although I now assist a range of clients in their marketing my love of tourism has never left me. So I quickly became involved in #scotlandhour! Benefits are long and #scotlandhour tends to affect my life daily. But to keep them to three. One I have met virtually and now some in person a great team of like-minded people who love Scotland as much as I do. Two I feel as if I know Scotland so much better than I did before its great to see recommendations from across the country coming in. I have tried many of these recommendations myself. To date we have had a wonderful holiday in Kintyre #scotlandhour recommendation and one in Lewis and this year it will be Harris. All because of the power of one hour on Twitter per month. Finally #scotlandhour has resulted in destination hours across not just the UK but worldwide. #yorkshirehour. #NEhour. #waleshour and hearing great things about #canadahour. Word of mouth marketing at its best I would say.
Twitter and other Social Media are not just about what you had for tea. It’s about communicating about things you are interested in with people who are interested too! And you never know where it might take you. One minute you are tweeting about #scotlandhour in your living room the next you are at the Scottish Parliament. Where next for #scotlandhour? Who knows but I can’t wait to see.