Irish Tourism Fights Back! #IRLday and Shamrock Urself Case Studies
The Irish are globally renowned for many things, especially their infectious energy, spirit and optimism. Over the last while, especially the last year, economic doom and gloom have been ubiquitous in Ireland and the Celtic Tiger has decided to recoil and take a bit of an extended cat-nap…
Cue a bunch of social media enthusiasts and an overdue dose of Irish positivity and pride!
Recently, I’ve been lucky to be invited to help and support two wonderfully innovative Irish tourism social media campaigns, run by some great people and that achieved outstanding results.
#IRLday – Getting Ireland On Line
PocketNative™ is a wholly new service for the Hospitality & Tourism sector, offering an utterly unique and exciting travel and touring experience to the traveller and promotional platform for the service provider.
Having just launched in Ireland and in the U.S., the concept of creating an on-line event to promote Ireland in a positive light during the visit of President Obama, was suggested. In early April, using Twitter™ as the primary social networking channel, “#IRLDay” was conceived.
The primary objective of #IRLDay was to create a unique, on-line event to promote Ireland – especially as a tourist destination. Achievement of that objective necessitated:
- initiating of a media campaign on Twitter™, leveraging the tourism groups already operating.
- making the Irish blogging community aware of the event and getting their support/involvement
- gaining support from Taoiseach’s Office, the Department of Tourism, and the Northern Ireland Department of Tourism
- gaining support from Tourism Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, Discover Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourism Office, Bord Bia.
- gaining support from the main Independent Tourism Groups in Ireland such as RAI, IHF, IHI, B&B Ireland, Good Food Ireland and Irish Foodies (to name but a few)
- getting coverage in Newspapers and on TV and Radio
“Conventional advertising and promotion is rapidly disappearing—being replaced by on-line promotion using Social Networks. This is recognised by only a tiny proportion of the Irish Industry & Commerce community. The principal challenge therefore was to achieve ‘buy-in’ for #IRLDay within the Hospitality & Tourism and related sectors,” said John Twohig of PocketNative.
On April 15th, a campaign was initiated on PocketNative™’s Facebook™ page and the #IRLDay hash-tag stream was initiated on Twitter™.
An Taoiseach’s Office supported the event through its Twitter™ account @MerrionStreet and Transport Minister, Leo Varadkar, issued a Press Release on the day of the event. The US State Department @Americagov, the U.S. Embassy in Dublin and the Dublin-based U.S. Chamber of Commerce also joined the campaign. All of the Irish Tourism Bodies, along with all the independent groups above, joined in the event, plus others.
Business was not targeted initially, but during the campaign, Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, ESB, KPMG, Microsoft Ireland, Paddy Powers and other companies requested inclusion in the event. Dr Theo Lynn at Dublin City University kindly offered DCU facilities to monitor the day’s events. This support was critical to the participation of An Taoiseach’s Office, Tourism Ireland and all U.S. Government involvement, as they would not have done so without adequate monitoring and security.
The Twitter™ community embraced the event with enthusiasm and helped grow it nationally and internationally. Huge support from the blogger community was evident early with Naill Devitt of Bloggertone – the largest Irish blogging community – putting his full weight behind the event.
Overall, the event was extraordinarily successful. All participants were tremendously supportive, complimentary and delighted with the results achieved. Twitter™ results showed :
- 17,000+ tweets appeared with the hash tag #IRLday from the 15th April to 25th May
- 12,800 tweets with the #IRLday hash tag on the 23rd May
- 4,000+ people participated in #IRLday from all over the world.
- #IRLday trended in Ireland on the 23rd and 24th May; the second day was not expected
“#IRLday showed that Ireland is once again leading the way with Social Media. #IRLday was the first ever initiative to market a country in a positive light by ordinary people—people with some or no tourism connection, just proud Irish and Irish-American people,” added Twohig.
Case study by John Twohig – Sales Director and Co-Founder of PocketNative™
Shamrock Urself Facebook Campaign
About a week and a half before St Patrick’s Day this year, a group of social media volunteers met up in Dublin to brainstorm the “Shamrock Urself” campaign.
Shamrock Urself was going to be a social media campaign on Facebook aimed at helping restore the positivity and pride of the Irish on the run up to St Patrick’s Day.
You didn’t need to be Irish to be involved in the campaign, you just needed to want to be part of it all. The media had been painting Ireland a sickly shade of grey since before Christmas and we wanted people from all over the world to help us get a bit of colour back.
St Patrick’s Day is celebrated pretty much everywhere in the world so it made sense to capitalise on the pending celebrations to gain traction for the campaign.
The Facebook page:
The Shamrock Urself campaign page was set up and we started to let our personal contacts know about what we were doing. 100, 200, 300 likes and counting – we were becoming very excited that people were engaging with us.
The Facebook app:
Within a few days we added the Shamrock Urself Facebook app which was developed by Belfast based agency, 31interactive.
- The app enabled people to position and add a picture of a shamrock to their profile picture
- Once a user had engaged with the app, their status would read that they had been Shamrocked and invited viewers of their wall post to do the same and become involved.
We also invited people to send us images of how they were celebrating St Patrick’s Day and their Irishness. There was definitely no greyness there!
Pre-launch, we identified that we would need to get some of the big Irish brands on board if we were going to try and get some decent exposure. After all, we only had about 500 collective personal friends who we knew would become involved which definitely wouldn’t do.
We needed brand ambassadors who would help influence their followers to endorse Shamrock Urself. Facebook is earned media and Facebook is exclusive. We needed help to earn the trust and support of the Facebook community.
Out of the 596.3 million Facebook users, circa 1.7 million are registered as Irish and we were standing at a grand total of 467 people who had engaged with us… After a few introductory e-mails and phone calls to some well-known Bloggers and social media Ravens we noticed that things were starting to happen.
Within a few days, Shamrock Urself was being talked about by:
- Social Media Ireland
- Silicon Republic
- The Irish Press
- The Digital Marketing Institute
As luck would have it, Guinness tweeted about Shamrock Urself and minutes later the campaign got mistakenly caught up in a Facebook sweep and was taken offline for a few hours.
Even though the Guinness opportunity was pretty much lost, we ended up with:
- 4877 Facebook app engagements
- 1303 page likes.
We had people from as far away as Canada, Japan, Australia, Switzerland and Peru engaging with us which was a phenomenal result for a campaign delivered with no budget, volunteered time and a major technological hiccup at an optimal moment.
We want Shamrock Urself 2012 to be something amazing. It has the potential to be much bigger and we can definitely achieve results to be proud of if we have some support and help. Come on; will you Shamrock Urself in 2012?
Case study by Jon-Paul Bruce – Digital Director, 31interactive.