Purpose: The purpose of this essay is to describe the social media usage of five European official national tourism organizations (NTO). The essay proceeds to discuss and evaluate the findings, whilst reflecting on the advantages of social media usage from the point of view of an official national tourism organization.
Method: The authors used three different methods of research: one structured observation to study the national tourism organizations’ everyday work in social media, one field stimulation to study if and how different NTO respond if a prospective visitor makes them a direct question via social media and finally an email interview to gain insight into NTO’s underlying strategies and policies about social media usage.
Theoretical framework: The theories that have been used in this paper include the Uses and gratifications model, theories of one-way and multi-way communication, theories of social media and relationship marketing.
Conclusion: By making use of social media the company releases some of its control to the customers as the latter can express their opinions freely in this type of media. One of the advantages of social media is that the platform favors dialogue and feedback. Social media can be used for traditional one-way communication, but works best as a supplement to the regular marketing activities, allowing the activities on social media platforms to focus on branding and building long-term customer relationships. Relationship marketing is extra profitable for services such as tourism, and social media provide suitable formats for e-WOM, one of the most trusted sources for information before traveling.
The five NTO examined here are using various social media. All of them use Facebook and Twitter. However, the investigation has shown that only Facebook, and to some extent also Twitter, is used for multi-way communication. Other social media networks are simply used by the NTO as another channel for one-way marketing communications. Although regrettable that they do not fully profit from the opportunities of dialogue that social media offer, there is still value in being visible in different kinds of social media, in part due to the large group of people who use them daily.
2013. , 68 p.