Tourist Social Media Engagement: Conceptualization and Indicators

Tourist Social Media Engagement: Conceptualization and Indicators

Rayane Ruas, Belem Barbosa
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8165-0.ch012
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Social media are transforming relationships with customers for all sectors, including tourism. Since the search for information is a critical aspect of tourist purchase decision process, the importance of social media for tourism is evident. However, the presence of tourism brands in social media is not enough to have an impact on tourist purchase decisions: it is necessary to generate engagement. This chapter aims to conceptualize tourist engagement on social media and identify tourist engagement indicators. Tourist engagement was conceptualized through a literature review that identified four dimensions of engagement: popularity, commitment, virality, and post engagement. A set of indicators is proposed to measure tourist engagement in each of these dimensions. The proposed TSM engagement framework was validated through a mixed-method approach, using secondary data and interviews carried out with Brazilian tourist destinations.
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In the hospitality and tourism industry, social media (SM) are profoundly changing traveler behaviors, mostly in the travels’ information searching, planning, and post-experience sharing stages. The globally increasing penetration rates and the popularity of SM in travel decisions transformed these platforms into an essential component of marketing strategies of hospitality and tourism companies. Additionally, SM has become a prevalent source of marketing intelligence of tourism companies (Albayrak et al., 2020), thus making them indispensable tools for destination managers and hospitality companies, among others.

Social media, which broadly refers to online tools based on social interactions and user-generated content, is characterized by three main features that distinguish these technologies from other web-based tools: real-time communication, many-to-many interactions, and user-generated content. Indeed, social media users can interact in real-time with peers in many-to-many networks by posting their comments, photos, or videos in real-time. These features have boosted social media diffusion worldwide at both individual and organizational levels (Peters et al., 2013).

Overall, social media are transforming the tourism industry from its traditional and information. Since the search for information is a critical aspect of tourists' purchase-decision process, the importance of social media for the tourism industry is evident. Social media have radically changed how tourists interact with tourism brands and make purchasing decisions. Before deciding to travel, most tourists look for online information and reviews provided by managers and other tourists on social media. Indeed, the literature demonstrates that travel decisions are influenced by social media, and tourists’ online behavior could predict the demand for destinations (Villamediana et al., 2019).

One essential aspect to analyze in this regard is customer engagement (CE). In today’s highly dynamic and interactive business environment, the role of customer engagement in co-creating customer experience and value is receiving increasing attention from business practitioners and academics alike. It is suggested that within interactive, dynamic business environments, CE represents a strategic imperative for generating enhanced corporate performance, including sales growth, superior competitive advantage, and profitability (Brodie et al., 2013).

It should be stressed that the mere presence of a destination or a DMO in a virtual environment is not enough to promote the image of the destination and to heighten intentions to visit. In fact, social media should be viewed as a strategic resource to increase tourism and for obtaining a holistic understanding of the tourist experience (Galvez-Rodriguez et al., 2020), as the presence of tourism brands in social media is not enough to have an impact on tourists' purchase decisions; it is necessary to generate engagement (Villamediana et al., 2019).

The level of engagement obtained will depend on the user's involvement in and interaction with the information provided on social media about the destination, considering both the amount of time and the degree of attention dedicated to its evaluation (Rodríguez et al, 2020).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social Media Engagement: Level of involvement with the page and its content. This is a particularly important variable to be considered by social media managers, as it is related to loyalty, satisfaction, interest, and behavior, among other behavioural factors.

Interactions: Users’ actions regarding a post: comments, likes, sharings, clicks, saves, etc.

Followers: Users that opt accompanying a page (e.g., brand, celebrity, company, other individuals), by having that page’s posts integrated in the news feed. In some social networking sites followers are can also be called fans.

Social Media Profiles: An account on a social networking site, that belongs and is managed/controlled by individuals, companies, brands, government entities, or influencers, among others.

social networking sites: Online platforms developed to enable many to many communication and interactions among individuals, and that provide several features to facilitate the connection with others based on common interests.

Impression: Number of times the publication has been viewed by users.

Reach: Number of people who were exposed to a piece of content (e.g., ad, post).

Viral: Publication with a high degree of reach, often shared many times by users on more than one social platform.

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