How To Go Viral on Launch Night #DigitalClare Case Study

10 Ways to Launch a Brand with Digital Impact

Harnessing the power of digital to tell a story and launch a new brand with remarkable results.

 Members of the audience hold up their smart phones at the official launch of #DigitalClare in the Temple Gate Hotel, Ennis. Photograph by John Kelly.

The best ideas are those that have a call to action, that involve many not a few and that are driven by a passion to effect change. For those of you who know me, you will know that whenever I take on a project, I take it on like it’s my own child, I will nurture it, mentor it, feed it and watch it evolve and grow. So when I had the wonderful opportunity to develop a new Digital Marketing Network for Co. Clare with the team at Clare Local Development Company (CLDC), I jumped right in. CLDC is delivering the digital animation in Co. Clare programme under the auspices of LEADER – the rural development programme.

I need to contextualise this blog post by saying this. Big ideas only become reality if there are people that believe in you and trust you behind you. The team at CLDC have been the cornerstone of this project and it is their vision and passion coupled with my strategies that leads me to use the launch of #DigitalClare as a case study of best practice – so sit back, enjoy a cuppa and read and take notes on how to go viral on your first night out. 🙂

Official Launch of #DigitalClare

Annette Daffy, Annette’s Boutique, Eamon Curtin, Inhouse and Joanne Sweeney Burke at the official launch of #DigitalClare in the Temple Gate Hotel, Ennis. Photograph by John Kelly.

1. An Idea Needs a Strategy

Brands begin as ideas. We all have ideas – big, small, medium-sized, but how do you make them a reality and then a success? (Remember success means different things to different people). You need a strategy,  of course. Very often people travel the ideas road without a road-map and they get lost or drive the same road over and over on the road to nowhere. Alas, if they had a map they may have better luck and success. So when conceptualizing #DigitalClare I drafted a strategy which would provide CLDC and the people of Clare with a road-map. It consisted of the following:

  • A brand vision
  • A brand strategy
  • Strategic outcomes with defined milestones and goals
  • The mechanics of how it would operate initially and into the future
  • A digital marketing strategy
  • The story
  • A launch plan
  • Allowances for iteration
  • A follow up plan

Logo reveal video by Steven McDonagh, VivifyEntertainment


2. Build a flock

I’m the daughter of a sheep farmer so I have experience in rounding up sheep and getting them to follow me! Perhaps this skill has helped me over the years in getting people to buy into my ‘big ideas’. Any good digital marketer will understand that the power of the social web lies in your ability to build a community of online champions. So while we were developing the #DigitalClare strategy behind the scenes we were on the frontline tempting the people of Clare to share our vision. CLDC had a series of training courses on offer across Co. Clare since June 2014 and we saw the opportunity to test such an idea with the 150 people who came through the courses and we asked for their opinions and we built them into the brand strategy. On the day of the launch we had already harnessed an engaged online community comprising:

  • Database of 150 learners who completed our courses
  • 312 people on a closed Facebook Group
  • 168 followers on Twitter
  • 150 people signed up to attend the official launch (that was the limit on the free tickets booking system but more showed up on the night)
  • Total engaged community on day of launch = 780! 




3. Tell the story

Anyone who comes through any of my courses will spot a common theme – storytelling! Yes I love a story, to tell stories, listen to stories, package stories for online outreach, visually represent stories, put stories into hashtags – you get my drift! People connect with stories, so it’s vital you write the story of your brand/project/idea down. The story behind #DigitalClare is that the name was born on a very sunny September afternoon in Ennistymon following three months of intensive digital marketing and social media training around Co. Clare. CLDC and I spotted the hunger for digital very early on – we released the places for the 11 available courses and within two weeks they were all booked up, so we knew we had hit a digital nerve! So back to the story – during my Online PR & Digital Storytelling masterclass in Ennistymon I asked learners to live tweet the day using the hashtag #DigitalClare. I wanted to show them how we can connect with people across the world and engage in online conversations using the power of the hashtag. It just felt like a natural step on the journey. And since then, we have continued to tell the story which is:

“There’s a remarkable enthusiasm for sustainability in Co. Clare – to build sustainable rural businesses, to upskill people to help them gain employment, to showcase the sights and sounds of the county through music, arts and crafts, being a magnet for tourism and to promote each other. There’s a real sense of collaboration as opposed to competition. The people will be the drivers of #DigitalClare and we owed it to them to build it so they could power it.” JSB

4. Going social? Have fun!

There’s no doubt that social media has a huge element of fun! Don’t take yourself too seriously and engage by using a light-hearted approach. With 150 people attending my training courses and 91 one-to-one mentoring hours delivered, I just knew the personality of the people behind #DigitalClare. I had watched them, listened to them, laughed with them, (don’t think anyone made me cry), and learned from them during that time. I felt close to them and honestly, I felt a bit responsible to do something special for them. While I had met them all over those short six months, they hadn’t met each other, and I knew I could change this! And I would do it by having fun, because it lends itself to the personalities of the people. They would join me if I started it!

Tweeting in progress at the official launch of #DigitalClare in the Temple Gate Hotel, Ennis. Photograph by John Kelly.

5. Build Momentum

Launching a brand doesn’t happen on the day in question. It happens way before it. It’s called ‘building momentum’. It’s a really important part of any launch. You need to drip-feed out news about it about 4-6 weeks in advance. This is my lead-in time for any event.

We also created a video with our #DigitalClare members who helped us build the buzz.


We were 100% booked the day of the event and we had over-spill on the night. Everyone wanted to be there and to get involved. And here’s what momentum delivers and here’s what a full house looks like 🙂

Members of the audience hold up their smart phones at the official launch of #DigitalClare in the Temple Gate Hotel, Ennis. Photograph by John Kelly.


Watch this cool time-lapse video of the crowd spilling in from Red Eye Productions!


 6. Capture data

It’s very important to capture data along the way to your launch event – permission-based data. Invite people to sign-up and in doing so they will share their email address. And this is not to spam them at a later date! No it’s to connect and engage with them and send them content that they’re interested in. This in turn will help you iterate and evolve into something bigger and perhaps even different than what you started with. A network or customers is what you need to build your idea.


7. Add value

You cannot expect people to come out and listen to your musings if you don’t add value. So what you’re having a launch event? So what you’re launching a new digital marketing network? So what?  Yip – you must have a compelling argument as to why people should come along. You must add value. As part of the #DigitalClare launch event we decided that we would certainly reward people for coming along and for joining our online community. And here’s the value add:

  • FREE membership of the #DigitalClare network
  • FREE training in social media and a range of digital marketing strategies (face-to-face and online)
  • FREE networking events
  • 24 FREE spot prizes to give away
  • Fun with our life-size props
  • Listen to the @Tweetinggoddess (aka Samantha Kelly, author of Tweet Your Way to Success)
  • Sign up for FREE Mentoring
  • Meet like-minded people passionate about destination Clare and digital marketing
  • Have a night to remember

Margaret and Leah Moore of Ballyhannon Castle at the official launch of #DigitalClare in the Temple Gate Hotel, Ennis. Photograph by John Kelly.

8. The Event Hashtag!

I’ve had quite a bit of experience with event hashtags so I was very excited to use my strategies at the launch of #DigitalClare. It’s also no surprise that the brand is called #DigitalClare – there was always a reason behind that. We asked everyone to use the hashtag throughout the event – as you saw from the photo above by John Kelly, everyone was ‘armed’ and ready. We also had a Twitter Wall so people could see their tweets on the big screen and that added greater motivation to get involved.

MC, Joanne Sweeney-Burke speaking at the official launch of #DigitalClare in the Temple Gate Hotel, Ennis. Photograph by John Kelly.

I also heard that people were busily setting up Twitter accounts on the night to get on the social media bandwagon. And here are the results of our collective #DigitalClare voice! We trended on Twitter in Ireland on the night, and we were still trending the following day 🙂 !


#DigitalClare lighting up the internet at its official launch in the Temple Gate Hotel, Ennis. Photograph by John Kelly.

9. Online PR

The media are a very important partner in your digital campaign. Their influence, SEO value and following make them a key online influencer so be sure to reach out to them. We engaged with the media ahead of, during and following the launch of #DigitalClare.

Watch the news package from the launch on IrishTV here.


10. Evaluation & Showcase

After your event be sure to follow up with every single person that emails you, tweets you, posts on your Facebook Page or Group and of course who attended. We have designed an event ezine which is dispatched to everyone who came along (and even those who couldn’t make it but had expressed an interest). Your follow up showcase should include:

  • Photos from the event
  • Video from the event
  • Curated social media posts from the event
  • Links to media mentions
  • Personal message of thanks from the organisers
  • Downloads (material handed out on the night)
  • Call to action (what are you going to do next – tell your flock and they will follow)
  • Monitor open, click through and share rates from your email marketing software
  • Share it on social media and encourage your flock to do so also
  • Learn from the event and take that learning into your next event

Watch our Launch Video


Thank you! 

I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone at CLDC for trusting me with your #DigitalClare project; to every member of the #DigitalClare network, thank you for coming along, for your emails and social media messages of support; to the media in Clare and beyond, thank you for your interest and attendance; to the online community who engaged with us through social media, thank you for your continued support. Now let’s collaborate, showcase and communicate using the power of #DigitalClare. JSB. xx



Tagged under:

Leave a Reply

5 × one =

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.