What’s Working for Dig It! 2017?

Julianne McGraw is the Communications Officer at Dig It! 2017 and half of the Scottish Heritage Social Media Group team. In this blog, Julianne will be talking about three social media highlights from Dig It! 2017 alongside some “lessons learned”:

Dig It! 2017 is the year-long celebration of Scottish archaeology and we believe that archaeology is for everybody. Our website features a packed programme of events delivered by organisations across the country, as well as free resources (such as Minecraft builds and YouTube videos). My job is to promote all of this amazing work and encourage people to “Discover Scotland’s Stories” through archaeology. Now that we’re halfway through the year, this seemed like the perfect time to share what I’ve learned so far.

Before jumping in, I should mention that the year has been filled with social media downs as well as ups. To promote our archaeology illustration, I ran an emoji competition in January which never really took off because it was too complicated. I have trouble finding the time to gather content for Instagram and I still don’t have the hang of Tumblr (although I’m not giving up on either platform yet). Don’t forget about the times that I’ve posted a Dig It! 2017 update from my personal account, shared a broken link or scheduled a Tweet for 12am…lessons learned, folks…lessons learned…


ScotlandHour has been around since 2011 and we’d joined the conversation many times in 2015 and 2016, but this was the first time that we’d hosted. For those of you who don’t know, ScotlandHour is a monthly chat on Twitter, which covers subjects like ‘where to stay’ and ‘where to eat’. The chat usually has a theme and participants are guided by a series of questions.

With the help of @thecastlehunter and @RegistersofScot, we hosted the #HHA2017 chat by creating the questions ahead of time, advertising the date (22 February) and guiding the conversations during the actual hour. We wanted to promote our World Heritage Day events with our #ScotlandinSix hashtag while keeping the questions as broad as possible to encourage participation from a larger audience.

Was it worth it? If we take a look at organic impressions (number of times that users saw the Tweet on Twitter) for @DigIt2017, you can probably guess when ScotlandHour took place:

Graph showing a spike on ScotlandHour

If you’d like to host #ScotlandHour, the organisers are always looking for new ideas (and they’re very helpful when it comes to answering questions). If that’s too much of a commitment, I’d recommend answering a few questions each month – the list is available on their website. Chats like #EdinHour and #LoveDandG are great if you’re trying to reach regional audiences, while #RGChat is perfect for reaching international Tweeters. 

Lesson Learned – Tie into broader social media conversations as much as possible.


In December 2016, EventScotland officially announced that they would be funding our World Heritage Day events and we were finally able to publicise our six World Heritage Day events as a Signature Event for the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. After weeks of keeping it a secret, I could finally start using and promoting the #ScotlandinSix hashtag.

In addition to using #ScotlandHour to raise awareness ahead of/on World Heritage Day, I also:

  • Created infographics using Canva (which was time-consuming, but worth it)
  • Monitored, responded to and shared mentions of the six World Heritage Sites on Twitter using Tweetdeck
  • Created and distributed a “How To” guide for using the hashtag on World Heritage Day and approached people from the SHSMG group
  • Combined photos (bought from iStock) with quotes about the sites to share on social media
  • Used the Tweets to create a “Moment” at the end of World Heritage Day

In conclusion, I tried a bit of everything. And it worked! I used Hashtracking to monitor the timeline deliveries (in green) and Tweets (in blue) and you can see the big World Heritage Day jump below:

ScotlandinSix Twitter

What’s the downside? This was very time-consuming and a lot of my other Dig It! 2017 responsibilities had to be put on hold until after World Heritage Day. This level of activity isn’t sustainable for a small organisation.

Lesson Learned – Tell people about your plans and use trial and error to find different types of content, but don’t let it consume your schedule.

*Full Disclosure – Our budget covered paid advertising on Facebook and Twitter, as well as six bloggers who used the hashtag.

Hidden Gems – Facebook Voting

After World Heritage Day, we wanted to do something similar for our some of our equally extraordinary but lesser-known sites. This turned into a search for Scotland’s six most spectacular Hidden Gem sites. We worked with organisations across the country to pick the nominees and then invited members of the public to vote for the top six. We had originally planned to host the voting on our website, but eventually turned to Facebook (less expensive, easier to share).

Hidden Gems - Dig It! 2017

After drawing inspiration from the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative’s Photography Competition, we decided to set up a Facebook album and count each “like” or “reaction” as a vote. I knew that Facebook prefers photos to links, but it also seems to change its algorithms every twenty minutes, so I wasn’t sure what would happen to the album. I shouldn’t have been worried, because the regional groups who helped us select the sites have well and truly descended upon their photos. They’ve been relentlessly sharing the album, rallying students, campaigning at events, capturing media attention and holding their own photoshoots.

The album now has over 160 likes and the individual photos are doing even better. The James Watt Cottage, for example, has a reach of 19.5K. Labelling it as a “Falkirk” site rather than “Bo’ness” site caused a bit of a stir, but I was happy to update the description and all of that activity would have boosted the levels of engagement (and exposure) on the photo.

We asked people to share their thoughts for each site and people have responded with lots of compliments and some rather interesting memories (including injuries and gangs) – all of this activity boosts the reach of each photo. Although the campaign has hit some minor snags (“I’m not on Facebook”), we’ve already reached our target (5,000 votes) and the campaign isn’t even over yet.

Lesson Learned – Use photos on Facebook, explicitly ask for comments/actions and tap into regional or niche groups.

*Full Disclosure (again) – we were able to pay for a couple of online articles and social media posts (from other organisations) to promote the campaign, but we couldn’t have possibly paid 127 people to share the James Watt Cottage photo.

Wondering what’s in store for the second half of the year? You’ll have to follow along to find out!

Header artwork by John Felix

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