Virtual Tuscany

Confessions of an official blogger

Alexandra Korey
April 8, 2010

I have a job that any Italy-loving expat would envy. I work for the Tuscan region's social media team. I attend art events and exhibits, write about art in Tuscany, and promote it on a blog and via social media. In our office, Facebook is not blocked, but mandatory. We don't have phones; we use Skype. And we tweet during work hours, preferably as frequently as possible.  Although our role in Tuscany's new tourism campaign is fairly well known in the communications industry thanks to our participation in half a dozen lectures and conferences in the past few months, the general public has not heard much about it yet. So The Florentine asked me to give you the inside scoop on the campaign and on what we do.

 

 

Voglio  Vivere Così

 

The region, in collaboration with Fondazione Sistema Toscana, has taken an innovative approach to tourism promotion by focusing a large part of the campaign called Voglio Vivere Così on the Internet. Although there is a TV advert and related visual material in airports and on trains, the campaign principally uses web and mobile advertising, employing a dedicated social media team. This is the first such campaign to be organized by a regional government. Our goal is to encourage sustainable tourism and introduce visitors to Tuscany's lesser-known areas. This is why the images that are carried throughout the campaign do not include the region's most recognizable landmarks, such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Rather, they focus on the emotion or lifestyle aspects of travel, such as food, art, wine, landscape, and music.

 

 

The Social Media Team

 

Tuscany's social media team is run by H-Art, an innovative digital design company from Treviso. The team has four tasks: writing and editing, graphics, analysis, computing. Like me, the editors are specialists in their particular fields (such as art or food) and we produce original, high-quality content for sharing on social networks like Facebook. Our creative designers and ‘tech geeks' create platforms to host this content, and marketing analysts who monitor online conversations and provide feedback, which helps guide the entire team.

 

In the past six months, we have created 45 new profiles on social media; not only on general networks like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, but also on travel-related ones like TripAdvisor and couchsurfing.com. The team has created a website, www.allthingstuscany.com, that gathers all of our blogs and social media channels and divides them by topic, such as food, arts, sports, music, places. Since the start of the campaign, we have produced original content to the tune of 4,000 items, generating over 15,000 user reactions. The level of user reaction is a major success because our main goal is to stimulate and guide conversation.

 

The blogs that you can now see online are actually just one part of a larger network of websites still in the production stage that will be rolled out over the next few months. Everyone on the social media team is excited about what's to come. Soon, we will provide additional services, including a map of wifi points throughout Tuscany, a forum, and a regional events-listing site. All of Tuscany's websites will have an integrated login and will feature a points system with tangible rewards for participation, similar to airline points.

 

Our users also have an important role in the planned websites. The events site will encourage users to insert their own events, and the forum will give them a voice. Moreover, our upcoming ‘hand-picked aggregator,' which is a site with links to the Internet's best articles, photos, and videos of Tuscany, depends on content already contributed by bloggers and travellers worldwide.

 

 

The life of an editor

 

How did I get this job? For years, just for fun, I kept a ‘secret' blog on art history and travel in Italy, called www.arttrav.com. It was secret because I didn't sign my name to it. Until recently, self-produced or social media content was not considered particularly respectable, and I was in a serious graduate program, and later became a serious professor. The two seemed incompatible. But I was wrong. Online content can be highly educational yet accessible to everyone. That's why I blog.

 

The experience I gained by creating and promoting my own website helped me land a job in a field that I'm quite sure did not exist a year ago, when the use of social media by both companies and individuals had not yet taken off. Had I not been hired by the region to write TuscanyArts (the official blog about the arts in Tuscany), I'd have continued to blog for free. I know I'm very fortunate to have found a job that blends my ‘art geek' and ‘tech geek' sides, and that allows me to express my love for my adopted home.

 

Find Tuscany's social media team at:

www.allthingstuscany.com

Twitter: http://tinyurl.com/vvcsmt

Facebook: www.facebook.com

+ tuscanyarts - aroundtuscany - tuscanycious - tuscanytunes

www.turismo.intoscana.it

 

 

 

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