Whisky brands in digital and social – Speyburn

During the day when I’m not fighting crime and helping old ladies cross the road, I have the pleasure of working on marketing and advertising a whisky brand and I recently read an article on single malt whisky brands and how they perform in the digital space. With this being a subject close to my (professional) heart, I wanted to follow up on the article with a look at one of the brands mentioned in the article and explore some of the opportunities that digital and in particular social media have to offer.

The brand that I chose to look at is Speyburn and taking a quick glance at their website, you can buy whisky from the site (they use shopify for their ecommerce) but overall, there’s not really a huge amount going on. The most interesting thing you can do is sign up to ‘Clan Speyburn’ and in return for giving them your preciously guarded personal details, you will  receive a welcome pack, pin badge, and a regular newsletter.

Venturing off their website and onto Facebook, there is a Speyburn page which has 2,650+ followers but again not a huge amount going on (for the record the Swedish Speyburn page has 2900+ likes and more activity going on). Intermittent bursts of activity are about as good as it gets here.

Further afield on Twitter they don’t have actually an account and don’t tell them, but people are actually talking about Speyburn on Twitter… OK so they aren’t exactly a trending topic, but there is enough conversations mentioning them specifically  and  DEFINITELY enough conversations going on about whisky in general for them to want to try and grab a piece of the action!

Overall they really should try harder with their presence in digital as currently it’s a bit of a token effort at best.

What Speyburn should do:

(This is based on the twin assumptions that they would like to make more people aware of their brand and ultimately sell more whisky!)

  1. They should listen in on the social conversations which mention them, their industry and their competitors.
  2. Analyse the conversations that they have listened to; what are people saying, who is saying it, where are they saying it and what drives people to engage?
  3. Based on this analysis, they should create a plan around providing content that whisky and Speyburn fans will be interested in to try and grow their social presence and to build more awareness of the brand. The content they create should be housed on their website to encourage traffic and so that they can work to capture information and drive e-commerce. Looking at what works for other brands they should consider behind the scenes news and pics as well as consider activities like photo driven competitions to try and increase fan and follower involvement. A potential source of existing content is YouTube where there are already videos of people tasting and reviewing their whisky. Other activities they could try are tweet tastings and blogger outreach in an attempt to tap into existing whisky communities.
  4. In terms of trying to sell more whisky, there are plenty of B2B conversations to tap into; pubs and bars talking about brands, tasting events happening and retailers mentioning the whisky they sell – all of these conversations represent potential customers who can be engaged with on or offline.

Overall I think that Speyburn’s digital/social presence is symptomatic of a wider trend, where most companies, brands and organisations feel that they should do more in digital and social in particular but after a short time lose interest. As with anything in marketing, their activities should be linked to the overall  strategy for the brand with a plan put in place for how they are going to achieve their objectives They then they need to stick to the plan.

All easier said than done and certainly easy to say from the comfort of home!


#teamgrimmy vs #teammoyles hashtag battles!!


So today was Nick Grimshaw’s first radio 1 breakfast show, taking over from Chris Moyles in a move by Radio 1 to try and attract a younger demographic. In the run up to todays show, the marketing and promotion heavily involved the use of the hashtag #teamgrimmy  allowing people to show their support for the new show. Using this hashtag they got some of Grimmy’s famous friends to show their support including the likes of Justin Bieber, Alexa Chung, Rita Ora and Harry Styles. Not all my cup of tea but they have some big followings on twitter.


With Chris Moyles having a large and loyal following, the hashtag #teammoyles started for his fans to show that Chris Moyles may be gone, but he’s definitely not forgotten. Using Topsy to compare the number of tweets both the hashtags were getting, it looks like #teammoyles may have come out on top!


Topsy only measures tweets that includes links and tweets which get retweeted to try and not include tweets by bots, so there will be a lot of tweets by people that didn’t include  links and didn’t get retweets, but this applies to both hashtags so should be pretty representative of how both hashtags did overall.

This is another good example of how when using a hashtag, you have to really think ahead to how people are going to interact with it. There are plenty of examples of where hashtags get hijacked and ripped to shreds and recently the Waitrose hashtag #waitrosereasons was taken over by people taking the mick out of the up-market retailer and although no real harm was done to Waitrose’ reputation (they actually dealt with it pretty well, acknowledging how funny some of the tweets were), it goes to show that marketers really need to be careful when unleashing the power of the hashtag.  I have no doubt that once Grimmy has been going for a while #teammoyles will quieten down and #teamgrimmy will be a good way for fans of the new show to find each other but today, the #teammoyles supporters have definitely made their point on twitter.

#savethearctic comes to my street

It’s not every day that imaginative environmental campaigning against a global oil giant, effectively employing social media as part of a wider campaign of activities happens on your own door step, but that’s exactly what happened to me today in Edinburgh.

If you weren’t aware, Greenpeace have been running their save the arctic campaign, protesting against Shell’s oil drilling activities in the Arctic. Up until now I didn’t know about the campaign, but as I cycled past the Shell petrol station in Dalry today, I couldn’t really miss it!


Emblazoned across the roof of the garage was the slogan #savethearctic and what hit me straight away was that this was a hashtag!


Hashtags have been used in countless protests and demonstrations but seeing this example on my own street really brought home to me how powerful and useful hashtags can be, allowing groups and individuals to track the spread of a story across the web. This is a great example of Greenpeace using social media as part of a wider range of activities, where today they attempted to close down Shell garages across London and Edinburgh. Check out this video of the highlights

I love the imagination and passion used throughout this campaign, with the hashtag #savethearctic and social media right at the core of the activities. From a purely marketing and advertising point of view, other organisations could learn a lot from this campaign.

What are your thoughts on this campaign and what examples of effective or disastrous hashtag usage have you seen? Love to know your thoughts!

Social Media and Tourism – is there anybody out there?!

I’m not long back from a little ‘stay-cation’ down in the South West of England and ahead of my trip I sent out a few tweets about the area hoping for some advice on places to go, things to see and good places to eat but I got NOTHING back in reply. I felt like the Twitterverse had abandoned me! Undeterred, I continued to try and find out if anyone was out there but I was further dismayed to find a general lack of use of social media and general lack of interaction. The campsite we stayed at had a Twitter account but hadn’t been active for a LONG time, I went paddle boarding and had a great time but the place we got a lesson from doesn’t have a twitter account, I went to the River Cottage Axminster Deli, Tweeted about them AND checked in on Foursquare and got no response (despite the fact that they are seemingly pretty active on Twitter with over 1,000 tweets and over 2,600 followers).

All of this left me feeling that businesses are missing out by not getting more involved in social media, especially in the tourism sector as people love to talk about what they have planned and what they do/did on holiday. Travel and tourism depends on word of mouth to spread recommendations and opinions, and social media allows people to quickly share these thoughts.

Tips for Social Media and Tourism

  • If you operate a business in tourism, have a presence in Social Media! For most this will be a Facebook and/or a Twitter account, but find out where relevant conversations are happening and explore other platforms.
  • Do some basic monitoring. Use something like hootsuite to have some searches set up. These could be based on your geographical location, your specific business, your competitors etc. basically to pick up on conversations that could result in new customers or find out what people are saying about you.
  • Engage with people. If someone has taken the effort to follow you, like your page, tweet about you or post about you at least acknowledge them!
Social Media and tourism info.
  • Check out the social media in travel and tourism awards, this is what the big players have been up to. You might not have their budget but that doesn’t mean you can’t take inspiration from their ideas!
  • Imagery can be so powerful in marketing in general so have a look at this tnooz article on why imagery is dominating social media in travel in 2012.
  • On a more local level, check out #scotlandhour on their website and on twitter, a great initiative giving tourists a place to find out more about Scotland and businesses a platform to promote themselves.
What are your experiences of social media in tourism? Maybe you are a business making social media work for you or maybe you don’t know where to start!? Would love to know your thoughts!

Social Media Monitoring

Ahead of this weeks Edinburgh Social Media Meetup, where there is the potential for me discussing Social Media Monitoring (SMM), I thought I would put some ideas (mostly other peoples!) and links down for people to check out. Having in a past life worked in SMM, it is an area that still interests me and which I am  passionate about, in terms of the benefits for individuals and businesses of all sizes.

What is Social Media Monitoring?

If you’ve ever searched twitter for tweets about your football team, your favourite band or your business, then you’ve already carried some SMM of your own! If we go to the font of all knowledge that is wikipedia and search for SMM it redirects you to ‘Social Media Measurement’ and defines this as ‘the tracking of various social media content such as blogs, wikis, micro-blogs,  social networks, video/photo sharing websites, forums, message boards, and user generated content in general as a way for marketers to determine the volume and sentiment around a brand or topic in social media” I think this definition is just about right but I think that monitoring social media benefits more groups than just marketers.

Benefits of SMM for individuals

  • Career/job – I search for content around marketing and advertising to keep up to date with what’s happening in my industry; top stories, best people/accounts to follow
  • Find Content to share – if you are monitoring for a certain topic you can find interesting content to share and use to build your own following
  • Networking – find people and events for networking

Benefits of SMM to businesses

  • New customers – In my past role we would monitor social media for people using the term social media monitoring and potentially contact them if we thought that they could use our services. This works equally well if you are a small business for example an electrician can monitor for the words elecrician and the area that he works in and will find people asking for reccomendations on good electricians
  • Monitor your market place – keep up to date with what is happening in your market place
  • Monitor competitors – what mentions do your competition get in social media? what are they doing in social media?
  • Monitor Own Mentions – are people talking about your business in social media? If not why not? is this a good thing? if they are what are they saying about your business?

These are just a small selection of the benefits, Radian6, one of the biggest SMM  companies published an article about 100 ways to use SMM which can be seen here

How I monitor Social Media

As I said before If you have ever gone on to Twitter and searched for tweets about your football team or favourite band then you’ve already done some social media monitoring of your own, taking this a step further there are some great free tools that you can use. Social Brite put up a good list of their recommends and how they can be used.

Google Alerts – I run the twitter account for my Rugby Club so I set up some Google alerts and this tells me whenever the rugby club gets mentioned in the news, twitter etc this gives me good content to share and highlights tweets/mentions I might have missed. Check out the video below

Hootsuite – I use Hootsuite to monitor my own social accounts and at work I use it to monitor mentions of my clients. Hootsuite allows you to set up searches,which are there waiting for you when you log in to hootsuite. At work I use this to monitor mentions of my clients and for the rugby club I use this to monitor hashtags and conversations to find people that I might want to engage with. Hootsuite is more than just monitoring though as it allows management of your social profiles including scheduling and link tracking. The best place to find out more is at the Hootsuite Website

Social Mention – This is a social search tool which can help you see where you’ve been mentioned but also offers some sentiment, keyword and influencer analysis.

Topsy –  I use this in conjunction with Social Mention as it offers some different analysis like graphs of mentions over time.

Hopefully these ramblings and the links included will be a good starting point for having a chat later this week! Always keen to check out new things not covered here as well so leave a comment if there’s something you think I might be interested in.

Passive location based apps (sounds boring to me as well)

Back to the old school……….

I was approximately four years late in joining the Foursquare ‘revolution’ (did it/will it ever really catch on?) and looking at my list of four friends and zero check ins in the last week, it is safe to say that I am over it already.

The Present Day

Reading about SXSW 2012, it appears that the most talked about startups are all location based apps/networks, taking the Foursquare idea on to the next level, alerting you to who is nearby, what they are interested in and what content they are sharing. The apps in question are Sonar, Banjo and Highlight, with Highlight taking the top spot as the most talked about. Although I was four years late to Foursquare I can see an opportunity to only be a week or so behind the coolest/geekiest people in the world in adopting these ‘next big thing’ apps!! Exciting!

Doing some very basic research into which one I should try out, they all have their pro’s and con’s, so it looks like I will have to try them all!

The Future

Having done my very basic (lazy?) research it appears that my iphone battery life will be limited to about an hour, I will sacrifice all privacy and information from my social profiles and no one else I come across will actually be using these apps. But in the interest of having something to write about I will try them out and let you know how I get on.

PS does this mean I am an early adopter now? or just another wannabe?

Instagram – is it all that?

OK so my profile pic was taken by a friend using hipstamatic and I thought it made a cool picture, but people were taking cool pictures before the likes of hipstamatic and Instagram came along right?

So just what is the appeal? Apparently Instagram has hit 25 million users and having recently announced an android version is on it’s way, that figure is set to sky rocket. Clearly it has mass appeal, but I don’t quite get it. Is it just a set of cool filters to apply to pictures?

Don’t get me wrong I am open to being convinced and just last week downloaded it to get some pics of the current enLIGHTen Edinburgh event going on http://enlightenedinburgh.wordpress.com/about/ but I dont see myself using it regularly.


1. People I am interested in finding out about, I follow on Twitter, and they tend to post any Instagram pics they take there, so why would I follow them on yet another app/social network?

2. You can take cool pics already without using yet another app

3. I can’t bring myself to give up more time to another app or social network. Facebook is for Friends, twitter for people and subjects I am interested in, LinkedIn for work……. so where does Instagram fit in?

Open to being convinced but just not sure!

I will enter one of my photo’s into the enLIGHTen Edinburgh Photo comp and see if winning  £100 can make me an Instagram believer!