In July, a creative agency called Flying Object asked us to help them with a project.
“We want to build a Scottish Twitter Visitor Centre in Edinburgh.”
That, on its own, is an exceptional elevator pitch.
How many times have you sat twiddling your thumbs while some agency bod takes ten minutes to explain their creative idea?
We got this absolute belter of a concept in seconds.
It didn’t just make us laugh, it fired us up.
We work in an industry so focused on digital media it’s become blinkered to other ways of capturing an audience. Here was a chance to take what’s arguably the world’s busiest online platform and bring it to life offline.
If you’re not familiar with the global phenomenon that is Scottish Twitter, let me explain.
Imagine you could peek through the curtains at all the hidden lives in Scotland and watch their thoughts bubble to the surface:
“A don’t see the actual excitement of fireworks it’s a bright light n a loud bang if yer that intae it throw a lamp at yer maw”
Don’t make the mistake of thinking Scottish Twitter is some minor parochial phenomenon. It’s all over the internet on Pinterest, Reddit and any number of Tumblr sites.
You can happily while away an hour sitting in Greggs, scrolling through real Scottish people’s lives, spluttering your coffee and choking on the flakes from your steak-bake every five minutes because it’s so damn funny.
Twitter UK decided #ScottishTwitter deserved a bigger audience and they found one in Edinburgh during the Fringe when the city’s population swells to a million, half of them up from London looking for fun and frolics.
Although Twitter teased the visitor centre with huge posters in Edinburgh’s railway stations, the only way the Scottish Twitter Visitor Centre was ever going to catch on was by word-of-mouth. Twitter users were first to share the news:
They weren’t just laughing at the tweets, they were tickled at the different ways we found to turn a digital phenomenon into physical exhibits.
There was an auto translator table with screens and headsets where you could see and hear Scottish tweets translated into formal English.
Scottish: “Barber could staple a picture ae yer maw getting shagged tae yer heed but when he holds up that wee mirror ye’d still be like ideal mate cheers”
English: “The hairdresser could affix a photograph of your mother having sexual intercourse to the back of your head but when he holds up the mirror to display his handiwork you would still say to him I say sir, what a splendid job you have done.”
On one wall was a timeline showing Scottish Twitter’s 10-year history including video capturing the moment ‘Hurricane Bawbag’ sent a trampoline burling down a Scottish street.
A giant light-up map of Scotland displayed the way Scottish tweets varied from region to region:
On another wall an art gallery of oil paintings depicted Scottish tweets.
Visitors could take a tour of ‘Gran’s Palace’, a corner of a typical granny flat, where gran-related tweets were brought to life in cross-stitching and framed on the walls.
You could colour in your favourite tweets in the ‘Big Weans’ Kraft Korner’ (“don’t run wi scissors”) and on the way out, you had to ‘exit through the gift shop’ where a vast array of Scottish Twitter merchandise was yours for the asking, free of charge.
As if helping to design the exhibits and write all the explanatory copy wasn’t fun enough, the TwitterUK social media team invited me to join them in their Edinburgh ‘war-room’ and live-tweet about the Visitor Centre throughout its five-day lifespan.
By the middle of the opening day, Scottish Twitter was trending right across the UK.
During those five days, thousands of people visited the centre. Fern Brady’ s video promoting it got 10.7 million views. Lewis Capaldi retweeted the image of his visitor centre stained-glass window to his 765k followers. Posts about the centre generated 22.5 million impressions and Twitter got 9.5 thousand new followers.
One Scottish tweet exhibited at the centre was crowned ‘Funniest Tweet Of All Time’:
I’ve spent ages trying to pick my own personal favourite Scottish tweet, so I’ll finish this blog with it:
“A girl was buying herself perfume n her bf went “do u really need that” n she replied “do a really need u”