IT WAS a campaign planned at just a few months notice and only unveiled a matter of days before Christmas. But the £50,000 project to bring a group of international travel bloggers to Scotland at new year has proved to be an international success.
Pictures, tweets and blogs generated over a two-week period, which saw the group take in Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations then head off on tours of the Highlands, is said to have now reached more than 80 million people around the world.
Almost four million people are said to have been posting, or sharing material, since the campaign – instigated by the organisers of the capital’s celebrations and an Edinburgh-based tour company – got under way with little fanfare.
Now the “Blogmanay” initiative – which generated spectacular pictures of the Highlands during unusually mild weather – is set to be repeated to coincide with other major events and campaigns, including Edinburgh’s summer festivals.
More than 9,000 tweets were generated over the course of the four-week campaign, which also included 70 separate blog posts and 1,300 pictures posted on Instagram.
Some of the bloggers stayed in Scotland for up to 12 days, visiting various parts of the Highlands, including Skye, Culloden and Glencoe, as well as St Andrews.
Tourism experts believe the project accidentally provided the perfect start to the Scottish Government’s “Year of Natural Scotland” campaign, on which at least £5.4 million is being spent.
The Blogmanay initiative – the first of its kind in Scotland – was backed by bodies such as VisitScotland, Festivals Edinburgh, Edinburgh Tourism Action Group and EventScotland, which agreed to fund the project after it was suggested by tour company Haggis Adventures and Unique Events, which produces the capital’s Hogmanay festival.
An Edinburgh-based blogger, Kash Bhattacharya, was brought on board to help recruit the team of writers, many of whom had not been in Scotland before. Some travelled from as far afield as Australia, the US and Malaysia.
He said: “When we sat down to talk about the Blogmanay campaign and what we could achieve, we all agreed that Scotland has great potential as a winter destination. It’s not just about August.
“Lots of people were sceptical about the value of inviting bloggers to Scotland in winter. However, given the huge number of visitors that come for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, capitalising on its popularity and using the event as a gateway to discovering Scotland in winter seemed to be a worthwhile objective. Temperatures reached as high as 14C, unheard of at this time of the year in Scotland.”
A team of four digital media experts was recruited to help highlight the material generated by the bloggers during the Hogmanay festival, with many of the capital’s leading attractions agreeing to provide “hospitality in kind” during their visit.
The #Blogmanay hashtag was already trending on twitter on Boxing Day when it was highlighted as part of the monthly #ScotlandHour initiative to showcase a different part of the tourism industry every month.
There was huge interest in the campaign on 30 December thanks to the distribution of hundreds of pictures of the torchlight procession through the city.
Alan Thomson, communications and events manager at Unique Events, will give a presentation on the success of the Blogmanay campaign at the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group conference in Edinburgh on Tuesday.
He said: “This project has really captured the unique experience of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and visiting destinations throughout Scotland in winter.
“The results have been incredible and the future potential of Blogmanay as a leading digital tourism campaign can showcase Scotland around the globe as world-class winter destination.”
National tourism agency VisitScotland got involved with Blogmanay after inviting groups of travel journalists to Scotland in the summer on the back of Disney-Pixar film Brave, which is set in the Highlands, being unveiled at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Social media manager Simone Kurtzke said: “Blogmanay was a fantastic example of how a joined-up approach between tourism partners can yield great results which have really captured people’s imaginations right around the world.”