10 Jul 2012

VisitScotland Social Media - Yup They Get It!

WARNING - This is a rant and if I was Irish I'd be saying 'fecking' quite frequently. (So please feel free to fill them in where you think appropriate!) 

This article first appeared on the TourismMatters blog on 2nd July 2012.

One paragraph of background first.

It is hard to quantify what the public bodies have spent on VisitScotland.com since they embarked on their "new" digital strategy ten years ago but it could be well in excess of £30 million all in when you take all the externals, buy outs, redesigns, restructurings, pay offs, legal bills, salaries, consultants, EC meetings; they will maybe contest the detail but you get the picture.
It's been a shed load of investment. The current campaign for Brave which is by VisitScotland's own hyperbole the next big thing for Scottish Tourism has had £7 million earmarked on it. We heard maybe more.

Scene set?

The UK/European launch of Brave took place in Edinburgh on Saturday with a host of stars and politicians and media - and remember that £7 million that VisitScotland have invested in joint marketing and the recent all singing all dancing launch of the new VisitScotland digital strategy - and here's how it is represented online with VisitScotland. First Facebook:

Yup that's right folks, we're with you all the way on this new fangled social media stuff and we'll tell you about on Monday when we get back into the office. We understand the immediacy of social media and we recognise that we can get access to pictures that others can't and we'll tell you about it on Monday. We also recognise that our Chairman and First Minister have fronted a publicly funded £7 million campaign and we'll try and get it online for you but it may be after morning coffee as there's a lot to talk about first.

Seven or eight posts on their Twitter account and not a word on Facebook? (Not even a Facebook post to say why don't you follow us at the event on Twitter. Too obvious?) Too much bother having to write real sentences or something? No blogs. No website feature pages. Nothing on the industry website. Nothing on LinkedIn.

SEVEN MILLION QUID - the difference is in the detail. How often have we heard it's the little things that we do that differentiate us from the competition. There was a whole tourism strategy launched last week based on such differences.

Now anyone who has read any of our posts knows we do not believe that Social Media is anything but a small part of a hospitality business' distribution strategy but with the resources that VisitScotland have to hand you'd think they could at least make a bloody effort.

Does it really matter?

We don't have the clout or distribution and it may be that it will just be written off as another insignificant moan at VisitScotland.com but perhaps it should be seen as a clear indication of an organsiation claiming one thing but clearly not getting it. They wouldn't be the first Scottish institution that needed closer examination. Is it a further reflection of a disjointed digital strategy that has no real understanding of what online destination marketing should be about and reinforces once again that they should just leave this to the private sector to deal with.

Stop playing at being a poor man's search engine; stop trying to sell things online that you have no authentic experience of; stop spending millions of public money on things that others are already doing a lot better.

For a decade, VisitScotland, and the succesive governments funding them, have played at it with millions of taxpayers money with no fear of being held to account for more than a decade of failing to get any of it right.

The blog hasn't had an update since 18th of June and this is with the new online marketing strategy in place? The booking engine doesn't work properly, comments we have is that their extranet is more complicated than the one they've just upgraded from; the website is dark and underwhelming and they are in the process of having to contract another third party for the provision of a "channel manager" to handle online reservations. It always was and always will be beyond the public sector to drive an online marketing strategy from the top down.

No-one held account for failure, or the U turns, or the increasing costs, or the missed deadlines and failed deliveries. Now it may not be the scale of Barclays or the RBS or the trams or but you know what - it is all cut from the same cloth. A lack of corporate responsibility and accountability.

Plus ca change...

You know posting about a Monday to Friday social media presence may seem a small thing but I'm not sure that there is anything that reflects more clearly on a complete lack of understanding of the media and spotlights the whole fragmented strategy than something so simple.

However does anyone in Scotland actually give a feck?

Article Source: TourismMatters