Tourism Ireland has launched a campaign in Britain to encourage people with Irish ancestry or connections to talk about their associations with Ireland on Twitter.

Developed by Indicia, the ‘My Irish 140’ campaign works focuses on the number 140, the maximum number of characters in a tweet. The campaign began at 1.40am this morning and will continue over 140 hours.

Followers are being encouraged to tweet about their connection to Ireland using the hash tag #makesmeirish and can include pictures and links. Their tweets enter them into a competition, with the prize on offer for the best ‘sweet tweet’ being 140-hour short break in Ireland, with smaller prizes awarded at random every 140 minutes.

A specially created web page, myirish140.com, is highlighting the best tweets and includes a list of the top 140 things to see and do in Ireland. This list is being released gradually over the course of the campaign.

According to Tourism Ireland, tweets can refer to any connection people feel with Ireland. The agency said the recent Irish Times online conversation #greatthingsaboutireland ticked similar boxes, but it wants to extend the reach of this campaign to connect with people around Britain who may not be as familiar with Ireland but feel some connection.

“Tourism Ireland has been working hard to maximise the use of social media, including Twitter and Facebook, to promote the island of Ireland as a fantastic holiday and short break destination,” said   Niall Gibbons, Tourism Ireland chief executive.

“Twitter is a great way for us to promote Ireland and engage directly with potential British holidaymakers in 140 characters.  We can keep in touch with people around GB, track what they are thinking, inform them about news and events in Ireland in a fun way, inspiring them to come and explore the island of Ireland.

“The impact of online word-of-mouth cannot be underestimated, particularly when it comes to travel and holiday decisions.  Tourism Ireland aims to be part of a lively conversation about Ireland, to engage with fans and get them talking about the many great things to see and do here.  This is part of our overall marketing strategy which increasingly uses social media to complement both our traditional and other e-marketing channels.”