The Bermuda Department of Tourism’s (BDOT) increased emphasis on engaging consumers in the digital realm is gaining traction, according to the latest audience figures, and even causing the destination to trend nationally in the United States.

More than 80,000 consumers are tweeting, liking, pinning and talking about the island through Twitter chats, real-time responses on Facebook and blog posts that provide an inside look at visiting the destination.

 “We are extremely pleased with the social media response we have seen in the past year,” said William Griffith, Director of Tourism. “Social media has become one of the most influential platforms to reach consumers, and we are therefore placing a great deal of emphasis on tilling this fertile ground for prospective visitors.”

Twitter Chats, a real-time interactive conversation format utilizing tweets and a designated hashtag (#), have been a particularly effective method of increasing engagement for the Department of Tourism. BDOT has hosted four Twitter chats since November 2012 with topics including golf, Bermuda dining/Restaurant Week, promotion of Delta’s new flight from LaGuardia to Bermuda, and Bermuda summer highlights. Two of these Twitter chats, including one held last week, trended nationally, meaning they were one of the 10 most talked about topic hashtags in real-time on Twitter. Guest hosts have included island hotel partners, Bermuda restaurant representatives and travel bloggers.

The chats have received more than 4.2 million Twitter user impressions and have directly engaged more than 300 Twitter users during the chats, with an average of 3,000 followers each. The @GotoBermuda handle has been mentioned more than 1,000 times and the chat specific hashtags average 500 mentions per chat.

In addition to Twitter, Facebook has seen consistent growth on the Department of Tourism’s page. Since July 2012, the BDOT Facebook page has seen an audience increase of 251 percent. The Department of Tourism has also partnered with media outlets such as Afar Magazine for Facebook chats in an effort to increase engagement and outreach to additional Facebook users.

Since October 2012, BDOT has utilized a blog to showcase Bermuda’s hotels and resorts. Since its inception, the blog has covered eight hotels with blog profiles, including interviews from hotel representatives, creative imagery and posts in social media. As a result, the series has reached 244,207 people across BDOT’s social media platforms, with more than 26,376 social media users who have directly interacted with the blog content by viewing, clicking, liking and commenting.

BDOT has also increasingly played host to visiting bloggers in the destination, including a recent group familiarization trip that brought 18 North American blog writers to the island.

“There is no doubt that more and more of today’s travelers base their vacation decisions on the information they see on the internet,” said Griffith. “The more we can engage them in a conversation about the destination and help them learn why we offer so much more, the better chance we have of converting them into visitors.”