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The Growing Role of Social Media in Tourism Marketing

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THE GROWING ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN TOURISM MARKETING
In early November, marketing and public relations professionals from tourism industry offices across the United States attended the Second Annual Symposium on the Use of Social Media in the Tourism Industry (“Social Media Tourism Symposium,” 2011). The topic of the conference speaks to a growing trend in tourism promotion. Attendees focused on best practices for interacting with consumers via social media channels—an important skill, as social media is fast becoming one of the most vital, cost-efficient tools in tourism marketing. Effective use of social media has been proven to boost the number and length of visits, as well as visitor satisfaction and number of return visits.

Destination Marketing Organizations and Tourism Marketing Strategy The tourism industry as a whole encompasses a variety of different service and consumer product industries. One type of tourism office is a destination marketing organization, or DMO. The goal of DMOs is to increase tourism to a particular city, state, or region. DMOs seek to achieve their goals by branding the area as a whole and advertising that brand; promoting specific institutions, restaurants, accommodations, attractions, activities, and events that take place in the area; and offering information and assistance to visitors.

The Growth of Social Media Social media, which Merriam-Webster defines as “forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (“Social media,” 2011),” has seen exponential growth during the past several years. In September 2005, 16% of 18-29-year-old internet users were social networking site-users; by May 2010, this number had grown to 86%. Likewise, between…...

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