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29 Jan 2014

Tourism Ireland reaches two million Facebook fans (NI version)

Tourism Ireland now biggest tourism board in Europe, and third biggest in the world, on Facebook

Tourism Ireland has reached two million fans on Facebook around the world – with 825,000 new fans ‘liking’ its Facebook pages in 2013 alone. This makes Tourism Ireland the biggest tourism board in Europe, and the third most popular tourism board in the world on Facebook, after Australia and Discover America.

Reaching two 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 messages and photos shared each week with about 400 million friend connections worldwide.

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, Arlene Foster, said: “Over the last four years, Tourism Ireland has been harnessing the power of Facebook and other social media channels in order to build awareness of Northern Ireland as a tourism destination. It has become a crucial ingredient to promoting key events, inspiring people to experience what Northern Ireland has to offer, and once visitors have returned home, social media provides a platform for them to share their experiences.

“The beauty of social media is that each follower has a network of friends and without a doubt, the popularity of Tourism Ireland’s Facebook page has significantly enhanced the organisation’s marketing impact.”

Commenting on the two million milestone, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “The size of our Facebook audience provides a really valuable platform for promoting Northern Ireland, giving us access to a global audience of over 400 million people through the friends of our fans. In 2013, we reached a number of significant milestones for our social media and online marketing. Not only did we reach two million fans on Facebook worldwide, but the Digital Tourism Brand Index ranked Tourism Ireland at number one for its use of Facebook and YouTube, out of 45 national tourism organisations across Europe.

“However, it’s not just about the numbers – it is also the quality of the conversation we can have with our fans and how we can engage with them about Northern Ireland. We know that activity on our Facebook pages is driving traffic to our website – Ireland.com – and, most importantly, to our industry partner websites, where they can ‘close the sale’. Surveys of our fanbase have also indicated that being a fan of Tourism Ireland on Facebook significantly increases a person’s propensity to come and visit.”  

Tourism Ireland has grown its fanbase from a couple of thousand at the beginning of 2010 to the grand total of over two million fans today, across 15 markets – including Great Britain, the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Nordic countries, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa and the Gulf Countries (English and Arabic versions). The organisation also has Facebook pages for specific topics, including Ireland’s Family History Year and Titanic Stories. Fan numbers continue to grow across all of these markets.

As part of its overall marketing strategy, Tourism Ireland is using social media in a host of creative ways to inspire potential holidaymakers to come and visit Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland. The growth to two million fans comes on the back of a major push by Tourism Ireland across its main markets, to engage digitally with prospective visitors. There was particularly strong growth across the European Facebook pages in 2013, which now have more than 600,000 fans.

Some of the social media initiatives which have helped grow Tourism Ireland’s global Facebook fanbase in the past twelve months include:
  • a ‘Spread the Mappiness’ campaign on the GB Facebook page, inviting previous visitors to the island of Ireland to upload their holiday snaps to Facebook, to attract repeat visitors and to encourage the friends of our fans to consider a holiday here;
  • and a ‘Belfast 48’ social media promotion, which targeted one of Tourism Ireland’s new target audiences in Great Britain, ‘social energisers’ – a younger, fun-loving audience looking for an exciting time in a vibrant destination. Two travellers were selected from over 6,300 wannabe explorers who entered a competition on Tourism Ireland’s website, Ireland.com, and were then voted for by Tourism Ireland’s Facebook community. The pair spent a whirlwind 48 hours sampling Belfast, all the time posting on the Tourism Ireland GB Facebook page and Twitter feed, sharing their adventures with the organisation’s fans and followers around Great Britain.

 

Notes To Editors

  • Tourism Ireland is the organisation responsible for promoting Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination.
  • Tourism is responsible for in excess of 5.2% of GDP in Northern Ireland and supports approximately 43,000 jobs.
  • In 2014, Tourism Ireland estimates that almost 1.8 million overseas visitors came to Northern Ireland, delivering revenue of approximately £508 million.
  • Tourism Ireland’s international website is ireland.com, available in ten different language versions for 30+ markets around the world this year.