The Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) has opened a social media department to promote the Maldives on networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Head of the MMPRC, Mohamed Maleeh Jamal, told Minivan News that the new ‘Digital and Social Media’ department would aim to establish the Maldives as a “strong presence in the social and digital sphere.”
“Social networks have been under-utilised in the Maldives [as marketing tool] in the past,” Maleeh said, adding that the department would also work on search engine optimisation for the destination.
MMPRC staff will be trained to use the networks for marketing purposes and would attend the Digital and Social Media Conference in London in November, he said.
Dismissing potential criticism that the new approach was a ‘Department of Facebook’, Maleeh explained that social media was a cost-effective marketing tool that would enable greater sharing of positive messages about the destination, especially given its popularity with international – and tweeting – celebrities.
“Honeymooners are a key market for the Maldives, and social media users are quite young. It is good if we can occupy a space in their mind when they are booking their honeymoon,” Jamal explained.
Furthermore, “all other major destination promoters are is doing it, and we don’t want to be left out,” he said.
The Maldives was very social media-savvy, Maleeh noted, with a ‘social media population’ of around 50,000.
“If one person sends out a positive message, that is worth millions of rufiya in word-of-mouth marketing. Visitors are also very loyal – 25 percent are repeat visitors,” he added.
According to Facebook statistics, there are 123,280 active Facebook users in the Maldives – a third of the population. The vast majority of these – 113,760 – are under the age of 35. Sixty percent of all Maldivian Facebook users are male.
While Facebook has been popular in the Maldives for many years, Twitter use has exploded following the controversial transfer of power on February 7. Tags such as #mvcoup are full of furious exchanges between bloggers, activists, politicians and office holders.