There is no denying that social media has taken the globe by storm and our interaction within virtual communities and networks has the power to widen our world.
One Twitter forum currently working hard to promote Scotland as a tourism destination is the monthly #scotlandhour. On the last Wednesday of each month, thousands gather online to participate within the growing network of Scottish tourism businesses, which is fast becoming an essential tool, when travelling to and around Scotland.
The hashtag is an essential piece of kit when participating, in order that individuals can identify #scotlandhour from other tweets by the current 200 million worldwide users of the popular social networking service.
Each month a different topic is chosen, along with 5 questions, which are posed to the audience at ten-minute intervals. The responses are varied, widespread, informative and all extremely positive; one of the aspects of participating within #scotlandhour is the positivity, enthusiasm and encouragement between tweeters, all making #scotlandhour a pleasant, online, monthly meeting of people with a huge love of Scotland.
From a business perspective, #scotlandhour allows businesses, large and small to reach a vast, targeted, worldwide audience, promote their product, share websites, images and other information, answering queries and reaching potential customers, all whilst sitting in the comfort of their own home, cup of tea, or something stronger, as has been known, in hand – easy.
For those planning trips to our wonderful country or even curious Scots, learning more about Scotland’s delights, this forum presents the opportunity to ask, learn, choose and interact with those people they may not come across normally and uncover hidden gems.
I participate each month for Must Visit Scotland (@mvscotland) and have known trips to be booked from Europe, USA and Asia within the space of the very fast hour at the end of each month.
Dougie Baird, founder of #scotlandhour and owner of Westend Walks in Glasgow, is an experienced worldwide traveller of many years and he and his team are quite rightly proud of the success that #scotlandhour has achieved. Started in August 2011, the “tweet-up” has grown steadily in following, with October’s meet gathering a following of 596000.
#scotlandhour recently received some much deserved recognition, whilst present at the Scottish Parliament. The member’s debate included discussion of the work done by the #scotlandhour team, led by MSP Christina McKelvie, who thanked them for their work in promoting the Scottish tourism industry. The debate ended with Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing announcing he wanted to see what more the Scottish government could do to work with #Scotlandhour, “who have brought so much credit to this country”.
New and old followers are welcome to join this month’s #scotlandhour (Wednesday 27th November) when the chat shall be based around the Scottish national celebration of St Andrews Day (30th November).
• Lisa Wilson is the founder of mustvisitscotland.co.uk