For a few short days I held in my hand the power to reach thousands of people through the @LoveEdinburgh account on Twitter. I wrote up my hopes and plans for the week just as I was taking up the reins, you can read them on the blog here. I am happy to report that the follower numbers went up during my week, though not quite to the 10,000 that remained tantalisingly close yet out of reach. Here are some thoughts from the week.
- I stuck to the theme of Edinburgh’s August festivals for almost all of my tweets. I wanted to have a distinct identity while running the account and focusing on the festivals seemed a timely way to do so. I had, after all, chosen this particular week months ago with the Fringe’s previews in mind, so it would have been a missed opportunity not to talk about them.
- In the lead up to the week I lined up a few special events as well – invites to some of the venue media launches, that sort of thing. That gave me some set piece events to cover, hopefully adding some value by giving an insider view from time to time. It was good to see that the official venue accounts retweeted my posts from time to time – Assembly Theatre was most active in this regard; Pleasance much less so.
- There were some topics that I avoided: the #indyref for example. The previous incumbent said that he had found it problematic when he mentioned the referendum, so the nearest I got was to retweet a message about making sure people were registered to vote.
- On the subject of retweeting, I avoided doing it as a rule. There were a few occasions when I was asked to RT something by someone I knew, or for a cause I supported, and I was happy to do so. My general feeling though was that followers of @LoveEdinburgh are interested in the voice of the curator, rather than receiving a relatively large number of second hand tweets from other sources.
- With the same thought in mind, I didn’t spend much time looking through the feed of tweets that previous curators had signed up to. I decided early on that I would send my own tweets, that I would respond if people replied to them, but that I wouldn’t do much in the way of dropping in on others’ posts. That might be seen as antisocial, but I kept my regular account going for that sort of thing.
- Along the way I posted a few photos – during the venue launches, for example. I could have done more of this as images tended to get a reasonable response. This had been a regular approach of the previous curator and I know that he enjoyed the positive reaction he received from doing it.
- In the first few days I was picking up 20-30 followers a day, so it seemed perfectly feasible that the account would get to 10,000 while I was looking after it. My bright idea was to set up a competition to mark the occasion if it happened and to ‘reward’ the 10,000th follower. The prize was sourced with a local business and all was going well. However, there were a couple of commenters that questioned the wisdom of this approach as it wasn’t inclusive for the existing followership. An interesting perspective and perhaps a valid one, though that hadn’t been my intention of course. There are apparently ways to pick a random person from among your existing followers, which would have been good to know. Lesson learned therefore. I can report that the growth in followers seemed to stall around the time I announced the competition though, so maybe it was a tad counter productive!
- With the festival kicking off, work to do, places to be and people to see I didn’t always have time to put much into @LoveEdinburgh. That meant quite a slow start, which was a good thing I think as it helped me work out what to do with the account, gave me some breathing space before the Fringe kicked off and helped separate my week from the previous curator. Things picked up though and I really enjoyed it when friends commented that they recognised the face in the account’s profile picture! (A picture carefully chosen for its inclusion of the lovely Union Canal in the background.)
As the week drew to a close I didn’t have much of a final flourish planned. What I had taken over from, at the start of my week, was quite a crescendo of activity. That reflected the higher level of interaction that my predecessor had had with the followers; I was very happy to wait for those late-weekend conversations to die down before posting much myself.
My closing hours were perhaps the opposite: they were somewhat taken away from me. During the mid-evening on Sunday I opened up my Twitter app to check for any mentions, to see that the picture had already been changed and the next host was sending out messages! This wasn’t exactly what I had expected nor planned for, so there wasn’t much chance to say goodbye.
— Love Edinburgh (@LoveEdinburgh) August 3, 2014
Hopefully I did my bit to bring a little of the Edinburgh festivals online. The weather was excellent for the most part, the shows I saw all good and there was a lively vibe in the city. Not every city has residents who are proud of where they live, but Edinburgh has a special place in the hearts of just about everyone I know. Some were born nearby, others have travelled far to be here. It’s not just the castle atop a volcano that happens to sit in the middle of the city. It isn’t only the festivals and the universities and the history and the architecture. This is a place where new ideas are given a chance, where those of all backgrounds can have a voice, as can those who are here to reinvent themselves. This makes it hard to leave – just ask the people who love Edinburgh so much they come back every August, who I’m sure wish they could just move here.
Here’s a Storify of some tweets I sent while running @LoveEdinburgh. Please remember that the picture associated with the account changes on a weekly basis!