Tweak Your Biz » Global » Irish Tourism Fights Back! #IRLday and Shamrock Urself Case Studies

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 objective:

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

The challenge:

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.

What happened:

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.

The results:

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.

The objective:

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.

  1. The app enabled people to position and add a picture of a shamrock to their profile picture
  2. 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!

Brand Ambassadors:

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
  • RDS
  • Silicon Republic
  • Bloggertone
  • 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.

The results:

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.



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The Author:

Digital expert, top 10% influencer with over 10 years’ senior management experience - including managing projects and teams, and growing companies in the Irish, international and online marketplaces. Co-founded one of the largest B2B blogs in the world, helped grow a B2B social media to over 1,000,000 members, created the strategy for one of the most effective SME Facebook pages in the world and have grown 3 business websites (TweakYourBiz.com, BizSugar.com & MyKidsTime.ie) to in excess of a 100,000 unique visitors per month. Have consulted and worked with both corporate and SME clients on leveraging digital to drive business KPIs. Speaker at industry events, have authored several industry reports on the Digital Economy and appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Business Insider and other leading online and offline business publications. Specialities include: Entrepreneurship Business Development, Start-ups, Business Planning, Management, Training, Leadership, Sales Management, Sales, Sales Process, Coaching, Online Advertising, Blogging, Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media Strategist, Digital Strategy, Social Media ROI, User Generated Content, Social Customer Care. http://tweakyourbiz.com/

Add Your Comment

  • http://twitter.com/xcelbusiness Helen Cousins

    It’s great to see the statistics and to read how these projects turned out. It also gives some indication as to the volume of tweets required to trend globally – it must be huge if 12,800 tweets on one hastag in one day #IRLday,u00a0didn’t trend globally. Still, both campaigns wereu00a0brilliant fun and brought a lot of people together in a good way. Well done Niall and count me in for 2012!

  • Aileen O’Toole @AMASinternet

    Hi NiallnnWell done on capturing the impact of the #IRLday campaign. While I chipped in a few tweets on the day, I didn’t get a good sense of how it all came together and what it achieved until I read the case study. u00a0nnI do quite a bit u00a0of work in the Irish tourism sector and u00a0earlier in the year was part of a group that put together a plan for rejuvenating the Irish industry .u00a0u00a0It was called Tourusm Opportunity (www.tourismopportunity.ie) and was led by the main tourism industry body ITIC. u00a0The report was well u00a0received by government and already some of the recommendations are being implemented. u00a0u00a0nnI’m going to suggest that the case study is shared within the industry as much to get the news out about the campaign but also to show the power of online marketing and social media ( that theme was covered in the report but here’s an example if how it worked in practice)nnI assume you’ve no problem with the case study being shared ( silly question really but I’m programmed to ask it). u00a0Not sure where and how u00a0but leave that with me that with me and I’ll keep you postednnAileenu00a0nnAMAS

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Hi Aileen, There is tremendous opportunity for the Irish tourism sector, and I am delighted to hear that your advice is been taken on board. As regards using the case study, it sounds like a wonderful idea and I’m sure the guys atu00a0@PocketNative:twitteru00a0would be delighted.

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Thanks Helen :)n

  • http://www.flasheforward.ie Fiona Ashe

    Well done, Niall. u00a0A great achievement on both counts. u00a0These are great initiatives to build on in order to promote Ireland through social media. u00a0Keep up the good work!

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Thank you Fiona :)

  • Belinda

    I’m pretty new to social media, my previous experience was Facebook. Period. I now have Twitter, Branch Out & LinkedIn accounts and appreciate any info I can get on how best to use these mediums as well as social etiquette. So, I’ve made a few changes based on your recommendations. Thank you!

  • Des

    Enjoyed your article. I’m just starting to work on a social media strategy for the first time. LinkedIn will be a part of it so i appreciate your tips.

  • http://www.garrendennylane.ie/blog Lorna

    I have to admit I hardly ever use Linked In and really feel I should be utilising it more. u00a0I became fed up with it when each week when I get the weekly digest and I see people’s updates are full of nonsensical tweets. I sometimes engage in discussions but I am really not using it to its full potential. u00a0I’d love a post on Branch Out by the way – what is your opinion on it as I have just signed up to it but haven’t done anything with it as yet.nAnother bug bear of mine is when I see on the weekly roundup email that I get, that A wrote a recommendation for B and B recommended A too – at least space them out by a week or two so it doesn’t look so obvious that you’re doing each other a favour!nyes, i need to crack the nut that is Linked In :)

  • http://twitter.com/xcelbusiness Helen Cousins

    That’s a really great Linkedinu00a0sin list Niall thanks!

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Hi Lorna, thanks for the input, I haven’t really used BranchOut so can’t really comment I’m afraid :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001165235221 James Wester

    Great insight Niall. u00a0Thanks mate.

  • http://twitter.com/LaneyOfLimerick Laney DeJesus

    I don’t know Niall if I share this on Twitter it’s going to automatically hit my over 1200 audience on Linkedin. I liked it to my Facebook page instead. :-)nn8 & 9 I see a lot of happening on Linkedin.nnGood read!

  • http://www.smartsolutions.ie/blog/ Elaine Rogers

    I had set up my profile some years ago and worked on it progressively over the years. I have not engaged in groups as much as I should, and got annoyed by the constant tweeting on LinkedIn. Even people I highly respect are doing it (my twitter acc is linked also, but I only tweet once a day or so from that acc, and is normally stuff related to my business, not social tweets, as I keep them separate in another twitter account).nLuckily I have never been spammed on LinkedIn, yet!nnOne thing that annoys me is people with no other connection, request to connect to me as a friend, that particular annoys me as I love and respect my friends, and they are encroaching into that space. Anyone of interest to me, I will message them, asking why they wanted to connect and to meet in person. It’s good research if nothing else.nnGreat pointers there for future reference Niall, thanks!

  • Aileen O’Meara

    hi Niall,
    as it is now March 2012, is there a plan to repeat this again this year??  Don’t see any mention of it anywhere?…. A lot was achieved in a short time last year but initiatives like these can take a few years to build up.

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Hi Aileen, Not at the moment but maybe with your support we could get something moving, perhaps we talk next week? 

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Thanks Aisling, hope you will like the changes – stay tuned! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/wchingya Ching Ya

    I agree with Helen, the new site looks great! Excited to see how everything turns out. Congrats on the new launch Niall and everyone who made it happen!

  • Facundo

    Looking good!

  • http://www.bloggertone.com Niall Devitt

    Thanks Helen :)

  • http://www.bloggertone.com Niall Devitt

    Cheers mate :)

  • http://www.bloggertone.com Niall Devitt

    Thanks Ching Ya, we’re all looking forward to test driving it now!

  • http://twitter.com/JimmyDaugherty James Daugherty

    I’m new here but the changes look good. Exciting times!

  • http://www.callboxinc.com/ Belinda Summers

    Any of these could help in tapping funds for starting a business, thanks for the resources Gianna. :)