Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG) has maintained exceptional Chinese readership engagement on Weibo and WeChat throughout 2020. Its Harry Potter-themed live stream successfully balanced entertainment, education, and cultural nuance. Here, Alice He offers key tips for those considering cultural live streams for Chinese audiences.  

This interview originally appeared on Dragon Trail Interactive.


When and how did ETAG make the decision to start live streaming for a Chinese audience?

Live streams were part of our recovery strategy from the beginning because we’ve learned from everything happening in China that live streaming is a powerful tool to stay connected to your audience and keep inspiring prospective visitors. When my contact at Sina Weibo got in touch in June, introducing the new global live streaming campaign they were launching, we immediately decided to take part.

Why did you choose the National Museum of Scotland as the location for the first live stream?

The National Museum of Scotland is a treasure box – it has over 20,000 objects. So I knew it would be easy to find highlights and interesting points to introduce to our audience.

What kind of research and preparation did you do before the live broadcast?

We had a brainstorm session in June and confirmed that we would focus on three key objects. Although it’s an interactive live stream, we didn’t want to keep moving. The plan was to have three fixed points, talk about the Museum’s USPs with the curators, and make sure we had a stable connection. We confirmed a few objects like Dolly the Sheep, and agreed that we would end the live stream on the rooftop of the museum because that’s a hidden gem with 360-degree view of Edinburgh.

In July, I saw that the first movie, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was relaunching in cinemas in China on the 14th of August, so I knew Harry Potter would be an attractive topic for the audience. Once we agreed to set the theme on Harry Potter, we chose three objects that have connections with the Harry Potter movie.

The Lewis Chessman were one of the objects with a link to Harry Potter chosen for Edinburgh’s Weibo live stream

We did a signal test in the museum at the end of August, and a very detailed walking route was planned during the test. My contact at the museum managed to get three curators on board to talk about different objects. We also agreed to have the curators presenting some gifts from the museum shop to give away to the audience during the live stream.

Before the live stream, I did lots of research about the objects and Harry Potter. The curators also sent me key information on the objects as well as the museum itself.

Dolly the Sheep is a highlight of the National Museum of Scotland’s collection, and she was a also star of Edinburgh’s September 2020 live stream on Weibo

How did you promote the live broadcast?

We promoted the live stream on our Weibo account and Sina Weibo has also promoted our live stream on their channels and campaign page. The live stream information was also circulated into a few different student WeChat groups we had.

How many people joined?

There were 43,000 viewers who watched the broadcast live, and now the viewing number has doubled.

What were your biggest lessons from the first live stream?

First, it’s always good to set a theme. In our case, once we focused on Harry Potter, it was much easier to select the objects and to plan the walking route.

The second lesson is to keep the audience engaged and entertained. It’s not about me and the curator talking about everything we’ve planned. There’s always a spontaneous part and I think that’s the charm of the live stream. Because our audience is young, when they join the live stream, they expect to learn something, but at the same time, they love to have fun.

The curators were essential because the audience can see their personalities and they’ll listen carefully to everything they say. The three curators at the National Museum are all very professional, informative and enthusiastic. They’ve all greeted the audience in Mandarin during the live stream, which was a lovely gesture well-received by the audience.