At 4.15am on Saturday May 7th, an estimated 150,000 people at venues across Ireland and the globe set out on the annual 5km journey to raise awareness and funds for Pieta House. As with most live events, social media played a part in raising awareness and giving people a platform to share their experiences on the day. At Olytico, we monitored and analysed the #DIL2016 hashtag on both Twitter and Instagram to understand how the people of Ireland and the world talked about Darkness Into Light.
Conversations about the 2016 event began as far back as 2015, in the days following #DIL2015 as people looked forward to the following year:
— Catherine Coffey (@ccdm1) May 9, 2015
However, it was early March – almost eight weeks before Darkness Into Light 2016, that conversations began to build. In total, Olytico analysed 15,416 tweets, published by a total of 6,400 accounts. Collectively, the tweets generated over 53.3 million potential impressions.
Compared to analysis we carried out in 2015 this represented a 40% increase in tweets published containing the official hashtag, a 45% increase in contributors and almost 100% growth in potential impressions.
The importance of key influencers
As was the case in 2015, many of the people and organisations who supported #DIL2016 used the strength of their social networks to spread the message far beyond their own followers. Last year we saw the impact of Jack McGrath’s tweet, and the subsequent retweets by his team mates at a provincial and national level. In 2016, Miriam O’Callaghan was the person who had the greatest impact on reach. Despite not posting any original content with the hashtag, she retweeted eight #DIL2016 tweets, each of which had a potential audience of 120,000 followers.
Other high profile promoters of #DIL2016 included: Niall Breslin, whose three tweets were shared over 215 times, with a potential audience of over 600,000 people; Norah Casey (380,000+); Sinead Desmond (345,000+); Deric O’Hartagáin (340,000+) and Michael Corcoran (330,000+).
In addition to their sponsorship of the event, Electric Ireland published 171 #DIL2016 tweets which were retweeted over 1,100 times and generated over 8.6 million potential impressions. Their twitter handle appeared in over 19% of all #DIL2016 tweets (2,751) – an increase of over 90% YoY.
What did people tweet
The word cloud contains the Top 100 terms found in the 15,416 tweets analysed. The larger the word, the more often it appeared. Some of the key findings included:
The Dublin Twitter handle (@dildublin) was the most mentioned – appearing in over 640 tweets, followed by Louth and Sligo.
Phoenix Park was the most mentioned location (249 tweets)
Positivity surrounding the event is clear – with words such as great (1,122 tweets), special (861) amazing (881), and fantastic (218) 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 55% of all tweets (8,476)
The #DIL2016 hashtag also contributed to a conversation around suicide (469 tweets) and what participants were raising funds for: support (781), awareness (342) and help (273).
Impact of Instagram
The growing popularity of Instagram was reflected in the volume of images posted to the platform with the hashtag #DIL2016. In May to date, there has been:
493,900 Accounts Reached
The most popular photo published on the day was from Irish makeup artist Bláthnaid Murphy who was in the Phoenix Park. Her photo was liked over 2,100 times and has potential impressions of over 65,000:
A 40% year on year increase in tweets reflects the growing awareness and popularity of Darkness Into Light.
In 2015, over 40% of all #DIL2015 tweets were published on the morning of the event. In 2016, this grew to 50% (7,641), with many of the tweets published 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.
The growth in popularity of Instagram would suggest the platform will continue to play a major role for those organising, sponsoring and taking part in #DIL2017.
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