Tourism tweets

Twitter engagement in the tourism sector

Tourism and travel companies hoping to gain traction and credibility and likes on social media sites, such as Twitter, should take note of a new study from researchers in the UK. A team in the Business School at Brunel University London has analysed almost 3000 tweets – updates on the Twitter microblogging platform – from six major companies in the tourism sector (Booking, Hostelworld, Hotels, Lastminute, Laterooms and Priceline) and found that there are certain features of a tweet that will attract the most attention from users of the site and gain more retweets and “likes”.

The team reports that posts which contain pictures, hyperlinks, product or service information, direct answers to customers and brand centrality are more likely to be retweeted and favourited by users. Electronic word-of-mouth marketing has become increasingly important in the era of web 2.0 and online social networking, where a single comment can make or break a reputation should it gain traction among even just a small proportion of the hundreds of millions of users of such services. As such, company marketing departments must try to get themselves ahead of the game, generate their own content and push the positive message as and when they can.

Fundamentally, social media puts the individual user in a much greater position of power than ever before, with one-on-one interactions between user, whether wouldbe customer or current consumer, and a company representative now taking up a large amount of corporate time for marketing departments. The online conversations between customers and commerce and between different customers can have a significant effect on intention to buy.

An earlier analysis of the 500 million or so daily tweets as of the time of writing reveals a large proportion of those contain reference to a specific brand or company that might express positive or negative feelings about the products or services associated with that company. “Our findings show that, in terms of contextual characteristics, pictures, hyperlinks, hashtags and mentions are the most important drivers for electronic word-of-mouth,” the team says. The team points out, however, that of all the various factors, product or service information is the only attribute that significantly affects retweet and favourite rates. “This result suggests that customers pay more attention to posts and tweets that provide information about products or services,” they conclude.

Alboqami, H., Al-Karaghouli, W., Baeshen, Y., Erkan, I., Evans, C. and Ghoneim, A. (2015) ‘Electronic word of mouth in social media: the common characteristics of retweeted and favourited marketer-generated content posted on Twitter’, Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp.338–358.

Author: David Bradley

Award-winning, freelance science writer based in Cambridge, England.