Tourism Ireland has reached one million fans on Facebook around the world, making it the third most popular tourism board, after Australia and Spain, on the popular social networking site. Tourism Ireland has doubled its Facebook fanbase in the past twelve months – from 500,000 fans this time last year – and from just 81,000 fans in 2010. Reaching one million Facebook fans is significant because each fan has an average of 200 friends – so Tourism Ireland is just one click away from having its message shared with 200 million people.
Key social media initiatives which have helped grow Tourism Ireland’s global Facebook fanbase in the past twelve months include:
- an “Escape the Madness” Olympics campaign this summer, which created lively conversations about the island of Ireland on Facebook and Twitter in Britain, presenting Ireland as the ideal “escape” destination during that hectic time in London.
- a campaign in India around the release of Bollywood blockbuster Ek Tha Tiger, which highlighted the island of Ireland as a wonderful holiday destination and a romantic and exotic destination for Indian travellers where the film’s characters Zoya and Tiger (played by Katrina and Salman) meet and fall in love.
- a Van Morrison promotion in Great Britain, the United States, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Spain this autumn, which conveyed the message that “Belfast is Rocking”, that it is one of Europe’s coolest and most vibrant cities with a really dynamic music scene and a fascinating history steeped in music.
- a fun “How Irish are you?” competition on Tourism Ireland’s Facebook page in the US, targeting the Diaspora as part of ‘The Gathering Ireland’ promotions, with a series of questions such as “do you know what hurling is?”, “do you know how to kiss the Blarney Stone?” or “have you read any James Joyce?”. Answers determine if the respondents are truly Irish and offer them a chance to win a trip to Ireland in 2013!
- Facebook has been a key part of Tourism Ireland’s Titanic and ni2012 promotions throughout this year, engaging with fans on a daily basis with positive, friendly messages about Northern Ireland, getting them talking about the many great things to see and do here, encouraging them to upload and share their experiences and favourite photos. Our Titanic Stories Facebook page alone has over 128,000 fans, with about 1,000 of them chatting about Titanic on the site in an average week.
Commenting on the one million milestone, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “The size of our Facebook audience is a platform for many promotions and gives us access to a global audience of over 200 million people through our fans’ friends. We set ambitious growth targets for our social media channels for 2012 and I am delighted that we have smashed those targets. However, it’s not just about the numbers – it is also the quality of our social media activity that stands out. Two recent surveys among fans in Great Britain and Germany showed they were significantly more likely to visit the island of Ireland as a result of ‘liking’ our Facebook pages. This is particularly welcome news as we prepare for a very special year in 2013, with ‘The Gathering Ireland’, when we are inviting friends and family from around the world to join our year-long celebration of everything that is unique and great about Ireland. Next month, we will unveil our new website, which has been specially designed to exploit advances in social media.”
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. 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. For 2013, Tourism Ireland is calling on those people working in the tourism business right around the island of Ireland to share their stories and images with the organisation, so that these will then be shared with the one million fans – and their friends – around the globe.
Mark Henry, Tourism Ireland’s central marketing director, said: “Our daily conversations on social media give us an opportunity to show people the rich variety of things they can see and do and to give them a sense of the vibrant place that the island of Ireland is. More than 60% of our fans in GB and Germany say that their perceptions of the island of Ireland have improved significantly since they ‘liked’ Ireland. Great consumer engagement on social media can deliver a strong commercial return for businesses."