Social Media Distilled – Jaclyn McKie

Amazing thing happened this morning which is hard to believe: It’s Monday again!

It means that today we continue with “Social Media Distilled” interviews and this time in our series: how does a relatively new distillery handles social media.

Allow me to introduce the lady behind Arran Distillery marketing and internet presence – Jaclyn McKie.

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Jaclyn McKieI am the Sales & Marketing Manager for the Isle of Arran Distillery based in our Stirling office.

What is your exact position in the distillery/group? Could you tell us a little about your journey in the whisky industry?

I am the Sales & Marketing Manager for Arran , dealing with our online presence, web sales, online and general marketing. A little bit of everything! I started with Arran in April 2004 as a Sales & Marketing Assistant dealing with our Southern European markets. Before that I worked in the wine industry in the Languedoc region of France.

How much of your day to day activity is dedicated to social media?

I spend a fair amount of time working on our social media channels, probably a couple of hours a day.

How do you see and define the audience on the different social media networks? From your point of view, are there any differences between Facebook, Twitter and other sites?

I’d say that each social media channel definitely has its own tone. Twitter is faster and more concise whereas Facebook is more of a ‘shop window’ where you can engage more with people and create more of a conversation. Pinterest and Instagram are also quite good because you can follow trends with packaging and see where your whisky fits in.

What are your goals when engaging the audience via social networks? How do you measure success?

The aim of it is really just to allow people a window into your whisky world and to engage with as many people as we can. We are in the fortunate position of being a small independent distillery so people can connect with us a lot more easily than they can with some of the larger more ‘anonymous’ companies.

How often do you checks social networks notifications (mentions, Direct messages, FB tags)? Every day? Once a day? twice a day? Whenever the phone beep/vibrate?

During the working day I receive updates as they happen and thereafter I receive updates on my phone and iPad so I can always see what’s going on, more or less. It’s important to be able to react to people’s comments and get involved.

Arran Distillery

Arran Distillery

Can you point out any other distillery/group that works well in social networks? What are they doing right?

Tomatin – they have a personal presence

Compass Box – they have a good program of events

Whisky Wire – they hosted our tweet tasting with us and it was very well planned and executed

Malt Maniacs – a group of varied folks from all over the world who are passionate and knowledgeable.

There are many many individual bloggers who post interesting and engaging reviews – too many to mention!

How can distilleries distinguish their activity and brand on the net? Are there any other areas, besides SN, in which you can promote your brand?

We are lucky in that we can be distinguished quite easily from many other distilleries as we are the only distillery on Arran. The island itself is such a great place to visit as a tourist and people very often feel a great emotional attachment to it because of happy times spent there. We like to stand out as being individual, reactive to comments and very honest in terms of the quality of whisky that we offer our consumers.

As a young distillery still building up brand and reputation, competing with long established distilleries/brands – do you put extra effort and emphasis on internet and social networks marketing? It is definitely less toured territory and it’s easier to get some headway there. 

Yes, we do try to put extra effort into it and find that it can be a great way of communicating with whisky enthusiasts – people new to whisky and those who have been enjoying their whisky for years.  It is a real window on the world and a fantastic way of reaching out to people. Plus, I think people can tell when you are a genuine product and social media is a good place to demonstrate that there are real people behind the brand.

Are images as effective as text in social networks? Or maybe even more effective?

Images are always more effective – you always get much more reaction from image posts, particularly when it involves new releases and updates from our staff, particularly those actually in Lochranza (- The Village on Arran).

arran_buildingWhat was your highlight moment with your Social networks work? Which parts of it do you enjoy, personally?

I particularly enjoyed the tweet tasting that we did last November. It was our first one and went really well. I enjoyed the comments flying back and forth and it was great to see that we opened the eyes of our tasters to some expressions of Arran that they hadn’t tasted for a while. I think that many were pleasantly surprised. A lot of people have dismissed Arran as being too young but the years have a way of flying past and I think it comes as a surprise to learn that we are now nearly 19 years old! I have also enjoyed starting up our White Stags online community and seeing nearly 3,000 people sign up to join our club since its launch in November 2013.

We’ve got some great plans ahead for our White Stags!

What were the weirdest and funniest (separately!) interactions/contacts you ever got through social network?

We have had a few funny ones. Including people who want to buy Aran wool jumpers from us (The Arans Islands are off the coast of Ireland – a completely different island to us) We’ve also had people contacting us asking if they can purchase the cask that is stored next to Prince William’s Cask and where they can buy a bottle of 50 year-old Arran Malt. It’s all good fun and very varied!

Do you remember your first whisky dram? What was it? Did you like it right away?

My first ever taste of whisky would have been a nip of my granddad’s Glayva whisky liqueur when I was quite small, as I always used to love the smell of it. My first real dram was when I went to university and worked for one summer in a marketing company which dealt with the ‘Friends of Laphroaig’ and ‘Bells Decanters’ campaigns. I tasted the Laphroaig 10 year-old and have never forgotten it!

What’s your current favorite whisky? Where do you like to have it?
The-Arran-Malt-17-Year-OldMy current favourite is our 14 year-old Single Malt which I like to have during a quiet evening at home with either my husband or my Mum and Dad. That one has always been my favourite since we launched it in 2010. It’s been amazing to watch our distillery grow over the years and each new age statement brings a sense of pride. I can scarcely believe we’ve got a 17 year-old coming out now!

Do you have any ceremonies or quirks related to drinking whisky?

At home, I always have to have my dram from a particular nosing glass that I have kept from the very first whisky festival that I attended in May 2004, only a few weeks after I had started at Arran. It was a show in Belgium and it truly opened my eyes to the wonderful world of whisky and I have never forgotten that weekend and the people I met there. I kept that glass and even through a couple of house moves I have carried it personally in my handbag so that it didn’t get broken!

Do you prefer drinking alone or with others?

I always enjoy drinking with others, particular after whisky shows where half the Scotch whisky industry folks get together for a few beers and drams. That is always great fun as we are an incredibly friendly bunch! Having said that, sometimes a wee quiet dram by myself in the evening once the children are asleep can be the perfect way to wind down after a busy day.

Do you limit your drinking? If so, in what way?

Yes, when you’ve got children, they have a terrible habit of interrupting your drinking habits 😉 I tend to wait until the weekend and make sure that when I do indulge, it’s good stuff!

Do you get to drink on the job? Do you HAVE to drink on the job? 🙂

Well, we have to write tasting notes for our single casks and new releases every few weeks so there are days where we all sit in our office and mull over a selection of pretty tasty drams! So I suppose we do get to drink on the job. There is always a spittoon however as our office is out in the country so we all have to drive home!

Do you have a professional dream?

I think it is probably to be around to see Arran release its first 21 year-old whisky and see our distillery remain independent and true to its roots. I’d also like to see our White Stag club progress and become a strong online whisky community with its own special bottling. That would be pretty special.

Thanks Jaclyn!

Previous interviews: Jennifer Nicol of Tomatin, Carl Reavy of Bruichladdich


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