~ 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.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar, said: “Tourism is increasingly an online phenomenon, with most tourists getting information about Ireland from the internet before they get here and even after they arrive. I really want to congratulate Tourism Ireland on achieving this impressive milestone.”
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 the island of 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 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 Ireland.”
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 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 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:
• the launch of an Ireland Family History page, to connect with people of Irish heritage in the special year of The Gathering: Tourism Ireland launched a bespoke page targeting the diaspora of second generation or more, which has gained more than 200,000 fans to date – this page has become the leading destination on Facebook for people tracing their Irish roots;
• Tourism Ireland’s St Patrick’s social media campaign, ‘Greening Season 2013’, which targeted about 1.3 million of the organisation’s Facebook fans in 13 different countries: a busy programme of social media activity was rolled out in tandem with the campaign, to maximise sharing and reach across social media channels. The initiative involved two different competitions – the first, the ‘Great Green-Off’, invited people to create and share their ‘greening’ video or picture; and the second, the ‘Dublin Doodle’, called on people to create their own virtual green doodle, with the best doodles projected onto the façade of Trinity College around St Patrick’s Day and streamed live on Tourism Ireland’s website, Ireland.com;
• 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 ‘Dublin 48’ social media promotion, which targeted one of Tourism Ireland’s new target audiences in Britain, ‘social energisers’ – a younger, fun-loving audience looking for an exciting time in a vibrant destination. Two travellers were selected from over 1,500 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 Dublin, 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.