WorldIrish.com hopes to score with boys in green
TELEPRINTER:It’s the diaspora-courting website that even Gabriel Byrne professes to like. Now, a year after it put its team in place, WorldIrish.comhas 50,000 members and plans to ride the “second wave” of social media activity – with a little help from the boys in green.
The site is partnering the Football Association of Ireland, which will invite members of Irish football’s worldwide supporters clubs to “map” themselves on the WorldIrish.complatform.
A kind of social media “call to arms” will be made on the big screen at the Aviva Stadium at half-time in the Republic of Ireland’s friendly against Poland on February 6th. The brand exposure follows a similar partnership with Leinster Rugby announced before Christmas.
‘Accentuate the positives’
Billed as “your place for everything Irish”, WorldIrish.comspent much of last year building and testing its platform before launching it quietly in August, says its chief executive Michael Branagan.
The social network is “non-prescriptive” and users are encouraged to upload their own “stories”. However, the website also aims to “accentuating the positives” about Ireland and “the Irish approach to life”, highlighting Irish talent and creativity, Branagan explains.
“We don’t shy away from issues, but the discussions are meant to be respectful and positive.”
WorldIrish.comis “predicated on good community management”, according to chief operations officer Blathnaid Healy.
The site employs four “community journalists” – among 11 employees in Dublin in total – while two community journalists work part-time from Britain and the US.
“A lot of people talk about the diaspora and see it as one group,” she notes.
However, WorldIrish.comtailors its content to members according to whether they are just-departed emigrants, people with long-lost Irish ancestors, or somewhere in between those two categories.
“So the woman who is in the middle of Wisconsin who has a a great-grandfather who is Irish gets a different experience than the guy who has just landed in New Zealand,” says Healy, who joined the company from RTÉ, where she established its first social media desk.
This mix of emigration practicalities and roots-related romance was the brainchild of Riverdance co-founder John McColgan and the venture has been supported by donors including businessmen Denis O’Brien and Dermot Desmond.
Branagan, who was managing director of internet firm Indigo in the 1990s, says WorldIrish.comwill have to find a way to pay for itself in the future, and he cites sponsorships, genealogy services, travel services and partnerships with craft companies as possible ways forward in terms of revenue. The company has also just published its first e-book, 101 Irish Phrases You Need to Learn, billed as “an essential guide to Irish lingo, slang and pub talk”.
St Patrick’s Day is, naturally, the focus for a membership push, says Healy. “That’s our Christmas.”