Confessions of a social media manager: VisitScotland on deep analysis and the power of user-generated content

PRWeek's series on social media managers talks to those at the online coalface for some of Britain's biggest organisations. This week, national tourism agency VisitScotland...

The rapid rise of social media as a marketing tool has undoubtedly proved an unnatural bedfellow for some industries, while fitting seamlessly into the raison d'être of others. Here, VisitScotland's social supremo tells PRWeek how the organisation harnesses the medium's obvious visual characteristics to reach further and wider than ever before...

Name: Lesley McIvor

Job title: Social media manager

My typical day/shift involves…

I have the best job in the world, the country just speaks for itself. But no day is the same – from moderating the channels along with the team, to seeing what’s happened the night before, to deep analysis of what has gone out the previous week. We work closely with other teams in the organisation such as PR, content, and UK & international marketing, which means a lot of meetings to join up our work. It’s easy when you love your job, though.

Which social media channels do you manage?

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and GooglePlus.

Which channels work best for the organisation and why?

Each channel has its own benefits. Facebook is great for videos and images. Twitter is where we can jump into conversations and have a little fun, for example, we were chatting with Tourism Australia the other day:

Instagram is our fastest-growing channel and this mainly down to the great user-generated content (UGC) we share. When the country is this beautiful it’s hard to choose which ones to use. 

Do you measure your social activity/growth?

Oh we measure. I’m all about the stats and data. It lets us react quickly to things that are working and things that are not. As one member of my team said: "You can’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you’ve been."

Tell us a bit about your use of video in your social feeds:

Videos are a great way for us to really showcase how amazing Scotland is. Recently, we teamed up with Team Supertramp to highlight Edinburgh along with four local athletes. The film (below) reached more than 18 million people organically.

My brand guidelines/restrictions are…

We try and keep the tone light and conversational. We often sign off with our name to show a person behind the brand. It’s great to build rapport when helping people to build their holiday, and feel like you have really made a difference to their planning and experience of the country.

Common issues:

Time. When you have a job which is this great and there are so many opportunities, you always wish you had more time to pursue them.

What makes a good social media manager?

Flexibility, humour and someone who just loves their job and the product or brand they are working for.

Best experience…

When I was the only person in the team one day, a loyal follower emailed us some stunning images from the day before. I published the three of them and went out for lunch; when I came back there were thousands of comments just within an hour. It just kept going and going and it was amazing to watch everyone love the images as much as I did. A few months later it made it into the news as one of our top pics.

Strangest experience…

When people ask you what you look like when doing a Facebook Live. I like to hide behind the camera to make sure that I’m showing off the amazing places we go to, but you always get the odd person ask "What are you wearing, Lesley?"!

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