At 4.15am on Saturday May 9th, thousands of people at venues across Ireland and the globe set out on a 5km journey to raise awareness and funds for Pieta House. In the days and weeks leading up to Darkness Into Light, and in the hours and days following it, people took to Twitter to talk about the event. At Olytico, we monitored and analysed the #DIL2015 hashtag to understand how the people of Ireland and the world talked about Darkness Into Light.
We started to track #DIL2015 on March 24th, over six weeks before the event began. By then, the conversation had already started, and the global impact of the event was illustrated by the first tweet we captured – sent from the official Sydney DIL Twitter account – sharing a map of the route along Bondi Beach:
— DILSydney (@DILSydney) March 24, 2015
What followed was over 11,000 tweets, published by more than 4,400 accounts. Collectively, the tweets generated over 27 million potential impressions.
The importance of key influencers
11,000 tweets about an event is an impressive number, but crucially for the #DIL2015, many of the people who supported the event used the strength of their social networks to spread the message far beyond their own followers. No one did this better than Leinster and Ireland rugby player, Jack McGrath. An infrequent tweeter, he used the social network to ask people to join him on his walk on May 9th. Despite having less than 9,000 followers, the potential impressions for a single tweet he sent on April 27th was a staggering 667,000 – helped in no small way by the retweets his tweet received from his fellow Leinster and Ireland players including Rob Kearney (250,000 followers) and Cian Healy (200,000 followers).
— Jack McGrath (@jackmc100) April 27, 2015
Other high profile promoters of #DIL2015 included: Kian Egan, whose tweet was second on the list, with a potential audience of over 500,000 people; Laura Whitmore (360,000+); Bressie (200,000+) and Deric Hartigan (190,000+).
In addition to their sponsorship of the event, Electric Ireland published 72 #DIL2015 tweets which generated over 2.9 million potential impressions. Their twitter handle appeared in over 10% of all #DIL2015 tweets (1,338).
What did people tweet?
The word cloud contains the Top 100 terms found in the 11,300 tweets analysed. The larger the word, the more often it appeared. Some of the key findings included:
The Limerick Twitter handle (@dillimerick) was the most mentioned – appearing in over 670 tweets
Phoenix Park was the most mentioned location (232 tweets)
Positivity surrounding the event is clear – with words such as amazing (482 tweets), beautiful (219), fantastic (219), and special (197) appearing prominently.
As well as raising much needed funds, the conversations taking place on Twitter illustrate the increased awareness of the organisation – the Pieta House handle appears in almost 50% of all tweets (5,601)
The #DIL2015 hashtag also contributed to a conversation around suicide (225 tweets) and what participants were raising funds for: support (538 tweets), prevent (276) and help (237)
The impact of social media for anyone involved in marketing or promoting an event can be very significant. In the build up to #DIL2015, thousands of tweets were sent, from accounts across the world, encouraging people to take part.
As the event took place, it allowed participants to share their experience with the friends and followers. Over 40% (4,697) of all #DIL2015 tweets were published on the morning of May 9th, many in the hours before and after people took part. This sudden surge in volume helped the hashtag to trend on Twitter, further raising awareness of the event beyond those with an existing interest.
For recurring events – Darkness Into Light began in 2009 – the conversations that take place online after the event can help to build momentum for the following year. Almost a week after #DIL2015, the hashtag continues to be used with organisers, participants and the media sharing their memories of May 9th, and looking forward to 2016.
(A copy of this article originally appeared on The Marketing Institute of Ireland website)