As 2020 began, the brand objective for Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority for the Republic of Ireland was crystal clear: keep Ireland top of mind as the number 1 holiday destination choice for the domestic Irish audience.
Our goals for social media were to grow our social following across all platforms, increase brand advocacy and drive brand fame by using thumb-stopping, attention-grabbing organic social content.
Our strategy called for a leitmotif approach, harnessing recurring content themes that would evolve over time to tell our brand story in different ways across different contexts and platforms. No small task for any organic social campaign.
Then mid-March 2020 Covid -19 struck sending the Republic of Ireland into lockdown, shutting businesses, and cancelling all holiday travel. The nation ground to a halt and our entire travel industry virtually disappeared overnight resulting in a 77% decrease in tourist numbers in 2020. With a full lockdown in effect and no travel permitted, our objective for the year remained the same.
We now faced a Herculean task to achieve our objective and goals.
We recognised we quickly needed to pivot our strategy to the new reality.
We turned to social media listening data to better understand consumer sentiment and feelings and identified a consistent conversation trend. The more we were restricted in lockdown, the more we yearned for escape. People wanted to return to the familiar and good memories of better times on holiday.
This insight provided us with a creative starting point: if people can’t travel, we’re going to help them escape through their social feeds, offering moments of natural beauty, and tranquillity all while advocating our collective responsibility to stay at home. 2020 would become the year of the Irish staycation, both virtually and physically.
We quickly developed a new strategy to create, curate and publish immersive content that allowed our audiences to experience key destinations without ever venturing outside. By using 3D and 360° imagery on Facebook, and using UGC video content to create virtual road trips and tours on Instagram Stories and Feed, we were able to enrich our followers’ social experience while inspiring holiday dreaming and maintaining awareness and consideration of Ireland as a top holiday choice for when we could travel again.
As the country started to reopen in June 2020 and domestic travel possibilities expanded, we needed to switch our strategic focus to encouraging Irish people to take a staycation. With no production budgets, we flexed our creative capabilities to leverage a small but passionate army of Irish micro travel influencers, brand fans and trade accounts to create authentic on-the-ground video and image UGC, turning this content into several recurring content series such as “Staycation Adventures”, “Local Stories” and “Make a Break For It” on Instagram Stories and Facebook.
As summer came to an end and Ireland eventually moved into a second lockdown, we pivoted our organic strategy once more to create new content streams to keep our audiences engaged and inspired while continuing to support hard-hit tourism businesses and encouraging public health responsibility.
We created a mindful video series “Take A Moment To Breathe” on Facebook, promoted personal responsibility through our “ Natural Distance” UGC image content series, and supported local business with “Dublin Delivers” and “Adopt A Shop” content series on Instagram Stories. Our message was one of hope and resilience that continued to resonate with our audiences across our social channels.
Out of a population of 4.9 million people, our efforts encouraged roughly 56% of Irish consumers to take a staycation with 40% of those bookings coming in the first half of June 2020 alone as consumer confidence was buoyed by the ease of lockdown measures.
In 2020, not only did we succeed in keeping travel in Ireland top of mind for consumers, we achieved this using only organic social media and surpassing many of our SMART goals for growing our online community, increasing brand advocacy, and delivering brand fame.
All in a year when travel and holiday making were tightly restricted. Our organic content made an enormous impact, breaking all-time brand impressions and engagement metrics for Fáilte Ireland, from individual posts to the collective result of our organic social promotion strategy.
Total Organic Engagements = Likes, Comments, Shares, Clicks, Video Views on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
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