#Come2Egypt: A Successful First Trial at a Social Media Grassroots Initiative

If you were on Twitter on Friday May 6th, you might have noticed that starting 4 pm your timeline was pretty much spammed with people using #Come2Egypt hashtag with photos, videos and tweets on why people should, well, come to Egypt!

In case you are a curious person, wondering how this whole thing started, then this post might be of interest to you.

One day a group of Egyptians on twitter that run in somewhat similar circles got an email from common friend Adel Abdel-Ghaffar which said the following:

“Just came back from Khan al Khalili and it was really depressing to see how empty it is these days. A few shops had closed, and allot of the shop owners were complaining that if the conditions stay like this, they might have to lay off more people and close shops themselves. This is just one area, I am getting alot of similar stories from across Egypt. 

While I was there, I was tweeting some pics, and found out they were retweeted widely around the world, even with the small number of followers I have (500 + ) , nonetheless people were fascinated.”

He suggested we start going to places that might be interesting for tourists each week and tweet from there, whether photos, videos, or thoughts while we visit these cool places. The group got excited about the idea. We were all regularly tweeting anyway, so why not do it to try and improve the tourism sector after it took such a fall following the massive protests in Feburary (and the mass arrests of foreigners didn’t help as well…).
We started doing that, and we especially did it during easter weekend as many of us were out of Cairo so we got to share media from other gorgeous places in Egypt as well like Sinai, Alexandria, and Hurghada.
We had been toying with the idea of making #Come2Egypt a globally trending topic on Twitter to get the maximum exposure from this tool. So we decided to give it a try last Friday. We created a Facebook event through the fan page we had previously set up and from there it went totally viral reaching a 0.07% of all tweets made worldwide. (a topic can be trending on twitter starting as low as 0.84% depending on the traffic at a given time.)
What was also great, was that not only were there individuals taking part in these tweets, but institutions as well. ONTV, an Egyptian liberal TV channel was also tweeting and re-tweeting with everyone, which was great since they have many followers.
So even though we didn’t manage to get the topic trending this time, we hope to do it again soon. Some thoughts we are considering for next time:
Media coverage beforehand; Among the group we have many bloggers, journalists, a radio presenter and media contacts so for next time we definitely want to create a bit of a hype to get more people on board.
Get more foreigners who visited and loved Egypt involved; as the people who follow them would probably be non-Egyptian
Tweet on a day where there are no mass protests in our neighboring countries; On Friday there were major protests in Syria and outrageous killing and arrests from the Syrian regime, so we’d rather be helping spread news about these uprisings than diverting attention from them.
All in all, I’d say the first trial was a huge success. If anyone has any thoughts, ideas, or would like to help organise leave a comment below. Let’s get tourism not back, but better than ever before. This is the New Egypt after all.

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