Virtual Communities: Towards an Extended Typology

Virtual Communities: Towards an Extended Typology

Arunasalam Sambhanthan (Curtin University, Australia) and Alice Good (University of Portsmouth, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9787-4.ch008
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1. Introduction

The percentage of companies using social media for marketing is expected to reach 88% by 2012, up from 42% in 2008 (Williamson, 2010). An early study by Szmigin et al. (2004) indicates that virtual communities (VC) are the most powerful e-tools for customer bonding. In china, virtual communities have been featured as forums where web users express themselves, seek relevant information, interact with each other, and establish their social networks (Lu et al., 2010). Alongside, the computer mediated information exchange has been an area of study for decades. This includes the study of different virtual platforms and the use of those platforms in key application areas such as in business, education and health. Current research unveils that the marketers are challenged to cater to the development of social networking sites such as Myspace, YouTube and Facebook due to the rapid growth of information exchange among consumers (as well as vendors) on the Internet (Valck et al., 2009). Apart from this, there are several reported studies which deal with issues related to the managers’ knowledge requirements in a VC environment from a marketing perspective (Bagozzi & Dholakia, 2002; Dholakia et al., 2004; Hennig-Thurau et al., 2004; Wiertz & Ruyter, 2007).

Importantly, Leimeister et al. (2004) clearly shows the variability involved in the research of virtual communities. More specifically, there has been documented research with regard to the use of the internet in tourist information search (Werthner & Ricci, 2004; Davidson, 2008; Sambhanthan & Good, 2012). While several studies look at the use of the Internet in tourism promotion, a recent study reports a very high level of computer and internet usage in tourism related information search by the users (Jacobsen & Muna, 2012). The study further reports that 75% of the respondents have a Facebook profile. In other words, a significant percentage of tourists used social media for information search, although it is not essential.

YouTube, being a premier social media platform has more than 800 million users visiting each month (YouTube, 2013). There have been several other reported studies with regards to YouTube in general (Rotman & Preece, 2010). However, the role of YouTube in tourism related endeavours is still an open area. A recent research reports that the YouTube videos have the potential to substantially affect the experience of tourists (Tussyadiah & Fesenmaier, 2009). Further, the study states that these videos generate mental pleasure through generating the imagination of people as well as impart the feeling of travelling to selected destinations that the tourists have already visited in the past. To some extent, the above findings show the significance of further research on the use of YouTube platform in destination marketing. Evidently, the use of YouTube as a medium to market tourist destinations remains an open question for exploration in the context of rapidly emerging marketing models using web 2.0. Hence, the research presented here focuses on extend the current typology of virtual communities for YouTube based destination marketing. A narrative literature review has been conducted for this research which surveyed the existing literature on Virtual Communities and documented those into five main clusters of extended typology.

Key Terms in this Chapter

YouTube: The social media platform used for video sharing on the web.

Virtual Communities: The communities built in the virtual world as similar to real world communities.

Destination Marketing: The activity involved in marketing tourist destination to the other countries.

Interaction Design: The design of interaction with humans and computers.

Tourism: One of the wealth generating industries of nations.

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