Tourism Ireland, the organisation responsible for promoting the island of Ireland overseas, has reached half a million fans on Facebook, making it the third most popular tourism board in the world on the popular social networking site, after Australia and the UK. Tourism Ireland has grown its Facebook fanbase sixfold in the past twelve months, from just 81,000 fans this time last year.
Key social media initiatives which have helped grow Tourism Ireland’s global Facebook fanbase include:
• The launch of a brand new Farmville-style game called ‘Ireland Town’ on Facebook on St Patrick’s Day, which has had over 213,000 players to date
• A ‘Happy Holidays’ Facebook competition in the United States last December, which generated 40,000 new fans
• Crowd sourcing initiatives such as "Nick and Sam's Ireland Road Trip" and “Mission Irland” – which offered Facebook and Twitter communities in Great Britain and Germany the chance to vote for the places around Ireland which a British couple and a German blogger would visit on their holidays here
Social media also played an important role in increasing the impact of high profile TV programmes featuring Ireland this year, including BBC’s Terry Wogan’s Ireland and Monty Halls' Great Irish Escape; as viewers were tweeting while they watched, Tourism Ireland communicated with them, highlighting some of the great places to visit which featured in the programmes.
As part of its overall marketing strategy, Tourism Ireland is using social media to inspire potential holidaymakers to come and visit the island of Ireland. Word of mouth is particularly influential when it comes to travel decisions, with one in two visitors (52%) saying personal recommendations influenced their choice of Ireland. Given that word of mouth is increasingly carried online, Tourism Ireland is working hard to grow the online tourism conversation about Ireland around the world and to stimulate positive word of mouth online about holidays here.
Mark Henry, Tourism Ireland’s Central Marketing Director, said: “For Tourism Ireland, effective use of social media is about building online communities and starting conversations that allow word of mouth about Ireland as a holiday destination to reach a truly global audience.” Tourism Ireland encourages fans and travellers to upload and share their experiences and favourite photos of Ireland; other fans then comment and recommend great places to visit and things to see and do. The organisation responds to messages posted about the island of Ireland, giving suggestions, offers from tourism partners, links and helpful tips and advice to potential visitors.
“When you consider that each of our fans has in turn an average of 130 friends, this fanbase for Ireland means that we can potentially engage with 65 million people worldwide each day,” Mark Henry continued.
Tourism Ireland took the top eMarketing award at the Marketing Institute of Ireland’s All Ireland Marketing (AIM) awards in May, primarily for the organisation’s social media successes.
Tourism Ireland’s Brian Harte and Mark Henry give the ‘thumbs up’ to the news that Tourism Ireland has reached half a million fans on Facebook.
Further media information:
Sinéad Grace, Tourism Ireland t: 087 685 9027
Note to Editors:
• Tourism Ireland is the organisation responsible for promoting the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination.
• Tourism is the island of Ireland’s largest indigenous industry; responsible for in excess of 4% of GNP in the Republic of Ireland and employing approximately 200,000 people.
• Approximately 6.6 million overseas visitors came to the island of Ireland in 2010, delivering revenue of approximately €3 billion. Overseas tourism business accounts for 59% of all tourism revenue.
• Tourism Ireland’s international website is www.discoverireland.com; there are 45 different websites, providing information in 19 different languages covering every continent. In 2010 discoverireland.com attracted almost 12 million unique visitors.