This an an excerpt from one of my latest article that was published through Technology in Society (An Elsevier Journal).
Suggested Citation: Camilleri, M.A. & Kozak, M. (2022). Interactive engagement through travel and tourism social media groups: A social facilitation theory perspective. Technology in Society, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techsoc.2022.102098
This study builds on previous academic knowledge on the acceptance and use of social media groups. It relied on valid constructs that were drawn from the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) and Theory of Acceptance Model (TAM), as the proposed research model comprised “attitudes toward technology” and “behavioral intentions” constructs. However, it integrated them with perceived interactivity constructs, including “real-time conversation” and “engaging” as well as with “content attractiveness” from Electronic Retail Quality (eTailQ).
This empirical investigation clarifies that the content attractiveness of social media posts as well as their engaging content and real-time conversation capabilities, can have significant effects on social facilitation behaviors of individuals, and on their intentions to revisit social media groups. The findings from this study reiterate the importance of continuously creating relevant content that appeals to social media followers.
Previous research posited that online users should keep their followers engaged through rich media (). Other theoretical underpinnings reported that interactive websites, particularly social media and video sharing platforms, can offer great potential to DMOs to promote tourism and hospitality services (). Internet domains can showcase a wide array of high-res images and video clips to lure online users to book their travel itineraries to visit destinations (). The digital media and mobile applications (app) ought to be as functional and responsive as possible (). They should load quickly without delays to reduce the likelihood of dissatisfied visitors, who can easily switch to another website or app ().
In this case, the results suggest that there are very significant effects between the online users’ perceptions about engaging content and their intentional behaviors to check out the social media pages (on a regular basis); and between their perceptions about engaging content and their social facilitation dispositions to communicate about social media groups through online and offline channels, in the presence of others. The respondents are appreciating the attractive content, including images or videos, that are disseminated through the social media groups’ posts. Moreover, the findings indicate that they hold positive perceptions about the co-creation of user generated content. Evidently, the exchange of information as well as the responsiveness between two or more online users was leading them to revisit the social media groups.
This study is consistent with the relevant literature that sought to explore the online users’ perceptions about the websites’ interactivity features (, ). Other researchers maintained that real-time conversations had a positive effect on the online users’ attitudes toward engaging websites (). In this case, this argumentation holds for social media groups, as well.
This contribution underlines the importance of posting engaging content including appealing images and videos through social media. It clearly indicates that interactive content as well as the social networks’ real-time conversation capabilities can foster positive social facilitation behaviors. Arguably, individuals are interested and intrigued to interact with other online users through popular social media groups in the presence of other members. They are likely to join in online discussions and conversations in prolific social media groups, particularly in those that are regularly disseminating attractive content, and in those that facilitate interactive engagement among their members.
The cocreation of user generated content in social media, blogs and review sites is driven by online audiences. This study confirms that the relevance and attractiveness of social media content can have a positive effect on triggering real-time conversations as well as on social facilitation. This reasoning is consistent with the social facilitation theory (,,,). This research corroborates that while the presence of other individuals can increase the likelihood of social engagement, a passive audience may inhibit them from sharing their comments about the attractiveness of interactive content.
The findings of this research also yield plausible implications to practitioners. The researchers indicate that social media subscribers are attracted by the online content that is being posted by DMOs and travel marketers. Online users and prospective travelers are increasingly browsing through interactive content including images and videos of travel destinations. The social media groups are offering a variety of multimedia content that is appealing to online users. Very often, they allow their followers to engage in two-way communications, as members can comment on posts and may also interact with other online users, in real-time. This study suggests that the research participants are visiting the social media groups as they considered them as helpful for their decision making, prior to booking their travel itineraries. Apparently, they were intrigued to revisit these groups and were likely to communicate about their content with other people through offline and online channels, as it appealed to them and captured their attention.
Therefore, travel marketers ought to focus on publishing quality content. This increases the chances of their engagement. Prospective travelers are attracted by multi-media features including high-res images with zooming effects and video content; that are adapted for mobile technologies, including tablets and smartphone devices. Travel marketers and DMOs ought to curate their social media group(s) with appealing content to raise awareness about their tourism products. It is in their interest to share relevant and attractive material to increase the number of followers and their engagement. More importantly, they are expected to interact with online users, in a timely manner, to turn them into brand advocates and to encourage social facilitation behaviors.
In sum, this empirical research clarifies that the attractiveness of online content of social media groups, including their images and videos of destinations, as well as their interactive and real-time conversation capabilities are affecting their subscribers’ revisit intentions. They are also influencing their social facilitation behaviors – in the presence of others. This study raises awareness on the importance of sharing engaging content and of encouraging interactive discussions among social media subscribers. The researchers contend that content creators can lure individuals to visit and revisit their social media pages/groups to generate leads and conversions. Arguably, the more engagement (e.g. through emojis and shares) and conversations (e.g. comments), the greater the chances of captivating the attention of existing followers and of enticing the curiosity of new ones. For the time being, the social facilitation paradigm is still relatively under-explored in academia, particularly within the travel and tourism marketing literature.
Future researchers are encouraged replicate this study in different contexts. They may adapt the measures that were used in this research, including engaging content, real time conversation and social facilitation constructs, in addition to other popular constructs that are drawn from TRA, TPB and TAM. They may include other constructs in their research models, including those relating to psychological theories that can clarify their motivations to engage with other individuals through such digital channels. Further research could focus on the demographic backgrounds of their respondents to better understand who, why, when and where they are engaging with other users through social media groups. Perhaps, there is scope for other studies to employ different sampling frames and methodologies, including inductive ones, to explore this topic in more depth and breadth.
This is an excerpt from one of my latest articles that was accepted for publication by Wiley’s Business Ethics, the Environment and Responsibility (formerly known as Business Ethics: A European Review).
This contribution validated the Elaboration Likelihood Model’s (ELM’s) measures and key constructs relating to the Information Adoption Model (IAM). Specifically, this research identified the effects of information relevance, information accuracy, information accuracy, source trustworthiness and source expertise on the individual’ attitudes toward online CSR communications.
The results confirmed that both central as well as peripheral factors (to a lower extent) were having a significant effect on the targeted audiences’ changing attitudes toward corporate communications. In sum, this study indicated that online users appreciated relevant and timely CSR content from trusted sources – that were curated by experts. This finding is conspicuous with relevant theoretical underpinnings on ELM. For instance, Chen and Chang (2018) and even Rawlins (2008) contended that individuals are usually captivated by current, relevant, complete, accurate, reliable, comparable and clear communications.
Relevant academic literature reported that individuals may choose to pursue ELM’s central route, whenever they evaluate the quality of the arguments/information that is communicated to them (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). Alternatively, if they are not interested or motivated on the content, they may usually rely on the sources’ credibility to form their attitudes and opinions on their messages. Previous research often utilized ‘source expertise’ and ‘source trustworthiness’ constructs to measure the respondents’ perceptions about the credibility of sources of information.
In this case, this study found that the research participants were more influenced by ELM’s central route processing as information timeliness and information relevance were having nuanced effect on attitudes when compared to the peripheral factors including source expertise. Evidently, the respondents reflected and thought on CSR communications they accessed through the Internet and via social media. This finding implies that the businesses’ elaborated, high-quality content was changing their stakeholders’ attitudes toward CSR information.
Nevertheless, the research model indicated that the participants were somehow affected by peripheral issues, particularly by the source expertise of content curators. Previous literature reported that the recipients of information can still be influenced by the peripheral route’s subjective cues and/or by heuristic inferences (i.e. low elaboration issues). For instance, many individuals are continuously exposed to corporate communications from businesses who have excellent credentials among their followers (Camilleri, 2021a).
The findings from this study revealed that source trustworthiness was the weakest antecedent of the individuals’ attitudes toward CSR communications. This result is similar to previous findings from other studies, where the researchers reported that there were lower effects from peripheral factors like source credibility/source trustworthiness (than from central factors) on information usefulness/attitudes toward information.
This research demonstrated that external stakeholders were mainly processing information relating to the businesses’ CSR activities through the central route, as they considered their communications as elaborate, timely and relevant. However, it also showed that they held positive perceptions about the expertise of content curators who were disseminating information on their CSR credentials via digital media
This contribution has investigated the online users’ attitudes about CSR communications and revealed their perceptions about the sources’ credibility. It implies that businesses can improve their credentials if they publish quality CSR content that is appreciated by their stakeholders. This research suggests that external stakeholders expected businesses to publish relevant information that is accurate and timely. This finding suggests that there is scope for the businesses to regularly update their CSR webpages with the latest developments. For instance, they can publish certain information and newsfeeds about non-financial matters including on their immediate responses to COVID-19 like sanitization and hygienic measures in their workplace environments. They may disseminate health and safety information through social media sites or via online video sharing platforms. They can use different digital media to promote their businesses’ responsible behaviors toward their employees and the community at large, during different waves of the pandemic.
Ultimately, it is in the companies’ interest to communicate about appropriate ESG matters with different stakeholders (Camilleri, 2021b). Businesses ought to use corporate websites to disseminate information on commercial aspects, corporate governance policies, CSR and/or environmental sustainability initiatives as well as on COVID-19. In this day and age, they should also utilize social media networks (SNSs) on a regular basis, to raise awareness about their website, and to interact on different issues with their followers, in real time. They can publish appealing content including images and videos about their CSR activities to entice the curiosity of stakeholders. They may also share excerpts from their CSR disclosures and could feature forward-looking statements that shed light on their trajectories for a post COVID-19 era.
Limitations and directions for future research
This study is not without limitations. The measures that were used to capture the data were drawn from ELM and from its related IAM. These theoretical models were mostly referenced in previous studies that were mostly focused on the co-creation of content, including online reviews and electronic word of mouth publicity. Therefore, the survey items were adapted for a study that sought to explore the online users’ attitudes toward CSR communications. In this case, the results confirmed the reliability and validity of the constructs. Hence, prospective researchers are encouraged to replicate this study in other contexts.
Future studies may consider different constructs that may be drawn from other theoretical frameworks, to shed more light on the individuals’ attitudes toward online communications, information adoption and/or intentional behaviors. Researchers may adopt other constructs to evaluate different aspects of online content. They may investigate perceptions about information access, information understandability, data richness, interactivity and customization capabilities or information completeness, among others. Alternatively, they could determine whether the information is rhetoric, difficult to understand, confusing, ineffective or even useless for online users. Furthermore, alternative research methods and sampling frames can be used to capture and analyze the data. Interpretative studies can explore other stakeholders’ in-depth opinions and beliefs on CSR communications and delve deeper into their content. Inductive studies may reveal other important issues on how to improve the quality and credibility of CSR disclosures in the digital age.
The following is an excerpt that was drawn from one of my latest contributions.
Suggested citation: Rios Marques, I., Casais, B., & Camilleri, M. A. (2021). The effect of macro celebrity and micro influencer endorsements on consumer-brand engagement on Instagram. In M. A. Camilleri (Ed.), Strategic corporate communication in the digital age. Bingley: Emerald, pp. 131-144. DOI: 10.1108/978-1-80071-264-520211008
Brands seek to improve their customer engagement in social networks. They may use different tools including the endorsements of digital influencers. Therefore, this chapter addresses a gap in the academic literature as it compares the outcomes of different types of digital endorsers including celebrity endorsers and micro-influencers, in the context of a luxury jewellery brand. The researchers delve into Instagram’s analytics to explore the differences between two types of digital influencers. This study examines the number of followers, the clicks, comments and likes on the brand’s page in Instagram. The results suggest that different types of digital influencers are generating various forms of engagement and interactions. The celebrity endorsements are boosting the number of followers, while the use of a micro-influencers is increasing the number of clicks, comments and likes on the brand’s pages. This contribution implies that luxury brands can optimize their online marketing strategies by using digital influencers. It proves that the use of social media influencers can enhance the customer-brand engagement.
Most brands today are committed to associate themselves with famous personalities. They may consider sport personalities, athletes and celebrities from the movie industry (Vaghela, 2012), because they are trusted by their followers when they promote products and services (Schimmelpfennig & Hollensen, 2013) and/or social causes (Casais & Proença, 2012). It is also important to understand that the use of celebrity endorsement enhances the consumers’ attitudes toward the brand, credibility in the brand, and can ultimately increase their purchase intention (Wang & Scheinbaum, 2018). The celebrity endorsement is recognised as a theoretically powerful communication tool for brand marketers (Carroll, 2009). The public are fascinated by famous people and celebrities. They may consider them as role models. Therefore, brands are using popular celebrities to advertise their products. The celebrity endorsements are improving the brands’ return on investment and the success rates of their marketing campaigns (Pringle & Binet, 2005). Several studies have concluded that the celebrity endorsements influence the consumer buying decisions (Bergkvist & Zhou, 2016). Those studies stress that the online users recall those products that are promoted by the celebrity endorsers. The credible endorsers can influence their followers’ perceptions about the quality of the brands’ products as they associate the endorsed products with the image of the celebrity image (Hollensen & Schimmelpfennig, 2013).
Macro-celebrities are reference people who attract the public. They are considered influential as they can entice the consumers’ buying attitudes and trigger behavioural changes (Chung & Cho, 2017). The credibility of the source depends on three factors: expertise, reliability and friendliness. Expertise is the communicator’s ability to support what is said in advertising, reliability is related to the communicator’s objectivity and honesty, and friendliness describes the attractiveness of that source (Vaghela, 2012). To gain a broad and loyal following, macro celebrities create interesting and engaging content, one type of content that has actually been very popular with the public is celebrities. Celebrities can also be branded because they can be professionally managed and they possess the attributes and particularities of a brand(Schimmelpfennig & Hollensen, 2013).
Individuals including young micro-influencers are increasingly using the social networking applications through their mobile devices. They are using them as their main platform to raise their profile among other social media users. Very often, these micro-influencers are considered more important in the digital environment than popular celebrities (Dunkley, 2017). These digital influencers are sources of inspiration and advice for other digital consumers. The originality and the uniqueness of their posts are key factors for effective content marketing. Their online opinion leadership can influence other consumer intentions and behaviours (Casaló, Flavián & Ibáñez-Sánchez, 2018). They use their online profile to connect with other social media users and to raise awareness about the brands’ products. These influencers are considered important in the online community (Khamis, Ang & Welling, 2017). Therefore, many companies approach those influential bloggers who are capable of marketing and promoting their products and services. Very often, they are expected to create new promotional content, including texts and images on behalf of their sponsor (Gustafsson & Khan, 2017).
Social networks have provided a platform for ordinary online users as it enabled them to share their personal stories and content. Hence, their social media posts may become visible and popular (Casaló et al., 2018), particularly if they share interesting content that appeals to their followers. The strategic and targeted development of social media content can improve the micro-celebrities’ (or micro-influencers’) public visibility and attention (Khamis et al., 2017). The advantage of micro-influencers is that they have created real relationships with their audience and expressed themselves more personally than most conventional celebrities (Djafarova & Rushworth, 2017). Micro-celebrities have become very popular through Instagram, but these days they can also be found on YouTube, Twitter and other social platforms. They are benefiting of several lucrative opportunities that were made available through the social media (Djafarova & Rushworth, 2017). As a result, more individuals are becoming micro-celebrities as they gain popularity among other users through social networks. Micro-celebrities would not raise their profile and be famous, if the social networks did not exist. The more followers a person has, the more noticeable is their social influence (Jin & Phua, 2014). These influencers are very powerful because consumers rely on their referrals and word-of-mouth publicity. They maintain interactive, personal relationships with their audience by engaging with them through social media (Camilleri, 2018; Djafarova & Rushworth, 2017).
To use this marketing strategy, companies need to identify the most appropriate digital influencer to represent their brand. There are influencers who may have different traits and characteristics that can appeal to specific brands (Bernazzani, 2017), in terms of identification, credibility and product-endorser fit (Schouten, Janssen & Verspaget, 2020). For example, micro-influencers may have fewer followers, but they are usually committed to engage with them. They tend to interact with their audience and to produce relevant content that appeals to their followers (Barker, 2016). Cautious, thoughtful and the effective use of endorsements in social media can leverage the brand in the marketplace. They contribute to create brand awareness and improve the brand equity. All of this is only possible if the marketing managers choose the most appropriate celebrity to represent their brands (Anagnostopoulos, Parganas, Chadwick & Liu, 2016). The brands’ partnerships with the influencers may be based on their individual characteristics, for example, consumers identify more closely with micro-influencers, and tend to aspire or admire celebrities (Bernazzani, 2017). Bergkvist, Hjalmarson & Mägi (2016) state that the effect of celebrity endorsement is most significant in the consumers’ buying decision when the they realise that the celebrity is not motivated by the money they receive but by the quality of the products that they endorse.
Celebrities, who have a large follower base are more news-oriented and are usually less social than micro-influencers (Kay, Mulcahy & Parkinson, 2020). Celebrities may have a team of collaborators who help them create the advertisements. The bloggers, for example, attract fewer followers than celebrities but they usually focus on more specific topics and niches (Khamis et al., 2017). Hence, the bloggers may be considered as micro-influencers as they attract those followers who are searching for more candid and detailed product content, and/or who may be willing to interact with them (Goodman et al., 2011). In short, partnering with respected digital influencers can help the businesses to gain consumer trust. At the same time, they will help them sell their products and services. (Hsu, Lin & Chiang, 2013).
This research posits that there is scope for the brands to use digital influencers to help them increase their consumer engagement through Instagram. The celebrities and the micro-influencers can support them in reaching wider audiences. The brands will benefit if they increase their number of followers, visits, comments and likes, as this improves the consumer-brand engagement. The findings of this study have clearly indicated that the macro or micro influencers posts have resulted in more Instagram users who have engaged with the luxury jewellery brand. The results have shown that the users’ involvement and interactions depended on the type of influencer that was used.
This study revealed that the celebrity attracted more followers, whereas the micro-influencer attracted more visits to the page. The latter has registered a higher increase than the celebrity, in terms of the number of comments and likes on brand’s publications. In sum, this contribution proves that the digital influencers can increase the consumer engagement with brands. However, different types of influencers may result in different interactions and engagement levels.
A pre-publication version of the full chapter can be downloaded through Researchgate.
This is an excerpt from one of my latest contributions that will be published in Emerald’s “Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age”.
Suggested Citation: Capriotti, P., Zeler, I., & Camilleri, M. A. (2021). Corporate communication through social networks: The identification of key dimensions for dialogic communication. In M. A. Camilleri (Ed.), Strategic corporate communication in the digital age. Bingley: Emerald, pp. 33-52. DOI 10.1108/978-1-80071-264-520211003
The relevant literature suggests that there is dialogic communication between organizations and their followers on social media, when both parties are willing to establish a communicational exchange (Kent & Taylor, 2002; Taylor & Kent, 2014). This may result in a dialogue when organizations respond and engage with other social media subscribers. There are two main dimensions that can determine the effectiveness of dialogic communications through social networks: The organizations’ “Predisposition to Interaction” and their “Effective Interaction” with the publics. The first one includes three determinants: “Active Presence”, “Interactive Attitude” and “Interactive Resources”. The second has two determinants: “Responsiveness” and “Conversation” as reported in Figure 1. These are five key dimensions that are influencing the effectiveness of dialogic communications through social networks:
Predisposition to interact in social networks
The basis for dialogic communication lies in the subjects’ readiness and willingness to interact with one another. A consistent digital presence and an ongoing dialogue with online users via social networks can help organizations to reinforce their stakeholder relationships. The organizations’ active presence and their interactive content can facilitate the online users’ engagement and may foster two-way conversations (Eberle, Berens & Li, 2013). Their predisposition towards online interactions through social media networks involves three core dimensions: the active presence (that necessitates a continuous online activity that facilitates interaction), the interactive attitude (that manifests the willingness to interact) and the interactive resources (this includes the resources that are used to disseminate content that is intended to promote interaction). Hence, a higher predisposition of organizations towards interaction on social networks is based on a greater level of these three dimensions (active presence, interactive attitude, and interactive resources).
The active presence suggests that maintaining a consistent presence and activity in social networks increases the possibility of generating conversations with users (Bezawada, Rishika, Kumar & Janakiraman, 2013). The companies can use the social networks as a vehicle to promote their online content including live broadcasts, podcasts, recorded videos, images and stories. It also allows them to create events, conduct surveys and to engage with online users in real-time. Their active presence on social networks enables them to respond and interact with the different publics. The more active their online presence, the higher the likelihood of generating interactive conversations with individuals and organizations. Therefore, a first key dimension is measuring the organizations’ active presence, by identifying whether they have an interactive presence in social networks and to determine what is their level of activity.
The ‘active presence’ analyses the active and consistent use of social networks that enable, facilitate and encourage online users to share the organizations’ information with others. Therefore, the organizations’ ‘active presence’ comprises two variables: (a) the level of presence: to determine whether companies have official corporate profiles on social networks; (b) the level of activity: to analyse the weekly and daily average of publications of organizations on the social networks (e.g. posts and updated statuses). A greater active presence would involve a higher predisposition towards interaction.
Several authors agree that social networks are increasingly being incorporated in corporate communication plans as organizations can use these channels to spread content, practice active listening, take part in online conversations, thereby engaging with online users’ and building a relationship with them (Bortree & Seltzer, 2009; Castillo-Esparcia & Smolak Lozano, 2013; Chu, 2011; Neill & Moody, 2015; Rodríguez Fernández, 2012; Waters, Burnett, Lamm & Lucas, 2009). Other authors contend that the organizations’ presence on social networks ought to be part of their communication strategy (Losada-Díaz & Capriotti, 2015; Viñarás Abad & Cabezuelo Lorenzo, 2012). The practitioners themselves are well aware that there is scope in using social networks in order to enhance their organizations’ communications with stakeholders (Wigley & Zhang, 2011).
Cohen (2015) maintained that it is difficult to quantify the most effective frequency of social media posts. If the organizations post too frequently, they risk annoying their followers, whilst if they post infrequently, their audience may forget that they exist. Various experts, including Capriotti & Ruesja, 2018; Jordan, 2017; Myers, 2019; Patel, 2016; Shane, 2018; Social Report, 2018; Zeler & Capriotti, 2017; Zeler, Oliveira & Malaver, 2019, among others, have put forward their recommendations about the most appropriate publication frequency in different social networks. For example, Kemp (2019) suggested that the posting frequency in Facebook should be between 1 and 2 posts per day, in Twitter between 3 and 5 tweets per day, in YouTube between 1 and 2 videos per week and in Instagram between 1 and 2 posts per day.
Different studies have reported a huge disparity in terms of the outcomes about the presence and activity of organizations on social networks. Some researchers indicated that the activity of organizations on social networks reaches a frequency of less than 1 post per day (Devaney, 2015; Losada-Díaz & Capriotti, 2015; Quintly, 2016; Statista, 2017). Conversely, others found that companies are publishing at least one post per day (Estudio de Comunicación, 2017; Kim, Kim & Hoon Sung, 2014). This disparity in the results is because the researchers may have explored different contexts. Alternatively, they could have used different methodologies and sampling frames to investigate the organizations’ activity on social media networks.
The interactive attitude is focused on the need to promote actions and content that can enhance online conversations with online users (Safko & Brake, 2009). The organizations may encourage their online followers to cocreate content or simply to share their positive experiences with others and to engage in positive word-of-publicity. They are in a position to foster dialogic, two-way communications on social networks in order to build their reputation and trust from their publics (Camilleri, 2015; Camilleri, 2018b). At the same time, they can demonstrate that they care to respond to their stakeholders’ queries or concerns.
Therefore, a second key dimension involves measuring the interactive attitude, by examining the organizations’ communication approaches on social networks. The organizations’ ‘interactive attitude’ is based on two approaches: (a) informative approach: This refers to the creation and presentation of informative content. Such content is descriptive/expository and encourages unidirectional communications; (b) interactive approach: This refers to the creation and dissemination of content that is intended to trigger conversations and the exchange of information. Hence, interactive approaches facilitate two-way communications (as online users are motivated to participate in online discussions, to disseminate viral content, subscribe to particular activities, share their reviews, opinions and/or recommendations, answer questions, etc.). The interactive approaches necessitate that the organizations’ demonstrate a higher predisposition towards interacting with the publics.
Several authors (Bortree & Seltzer, 2009; Diga & Kelleher, 2009; Eyrich, Padman & Sweetser, 2008; Muckensturm, 2013; Wang, 2015) emphasise that social networks promote dialogic communications, which in turn could improve the relationships with stakeholders. Various studies have reported that many organizations are already using the Internet for corporate communication purposes, as they disseminate information about their business with their publics through corporate websites (Kent & Taylor, 1998; Moreno & Capriotti, 2006), blogs (Seltzer & Mitrook, 2007) and social networks (Bortree & Seltzer, 2009; Ji, Li, North & Liu, 2016; Pace, Buzzanca & Fratocchi, 2014; Waters et al., 2009). Their bidirectional communication is possible as long as there are ongoing conversations and a regular dialogue with stakeholders (Valentini, 2015). For this to happen, it is necessary to share relevant content that appeals to the targeted audiences. This way, the corporate communication messages will result in increased stakeholder engagement and may inspire further interactions with the publics (Abitbol & Lee, 2017).
The interactive resources include those resources that are required to produce relevant, interactive content (Zeler & Capriotti, 2018, 2019). Theunissen & Wan Noordin (2012) maintain that successful organizations design appropriate dialogic environments that are intended to facilitate stakeholder engagement. Their corporate communications can be presented through different media including written content and graphics through printed materials, hypertexts and/or audiovisual formats that can be accessed through digital and mobile technologies, etc. Anderson et al. (2016) noted that the communication experts were using writing skills to build relationships with their publics. The author argued that the corporate communications content ought to be relevant, concise and easily understood by online users. The organizations’ creative messages may include certain keywords that appeal to their followers, to foster their interaction (Abitbol & Lee, 2017). Hence, online users may be intrigued to engage in conversations through their comments and replies.
Therefore, a third key dimension is to measure the interactive resources, by studying the information resources used by organizations to spread their content on social networks. The ‘interactive resources’ are a key dimension for corporate communication, as organizations use them to convey information to their publics. Organizations rely on the usage of interactive resources to spread their content to their audiences. The interactive resources, including the social networks can be used to facilitate the interaction and dialogue with online users. The social media enable the exchange of information as they can feature different formats. These formats may usually be combined within the same message. For example, the communication formats include (1) graphic resources: These are composed of fixed images, texts, and emojis. Such resources may be used to foster the dissemination of information in a mono-logic manner; (2) audiovisual resources: These include videos, podcasts and/or animated images (GIFs). Such resources have potential to reach greater audiences because they have a greater capacity to appeal to the individuals’ emotions (as they can increase their attention span); (3) hypertextual resources: These comprise links, hashtags and user tags. They include resources that can trigger the exchange of information. Online users may be enticed to participate, interact and engage in online conversations. The greater access, ease of use and availability of hypertextual and audiovisual resources have led many organizations as well as individuals to use these formats and to present them in social networks.
A few studies indicated that there is a significant increase in individuals who are watching videos online and/or via social networks. According to the Global Web Index (2017), more than 90% of Internet users watch online videos every month (Smith, 2017), and more than 50% watch videos on the main social networks. These findings represent an increase of almost 20% when compared to the previous year. Valentine (2017) posited that the social media networks have been augmented with the audiovisual resources. The authors argued that the videos add value to the social network strategies as they provide greater levels of engagement. Hence, organizations are encouraged to use the videos to enhance their corporate communication messages (Pletikosa Cvijikj & Michahelles, 2013).
Currently, we are witnessing an exponential growth in the use of audiovisual resources that are posted on social networks (this may be due to the increase in connection speeds coupled with the technological improvements of the mobile devices). However, a review of the relevant literature reported that the fixed image is still the most used resource among organizations (Twenge, Martin & Spitzberg, 2019; Luarn, Lin & Chiu, 2015; Waters et al., 2009). A few studies found that institutional websites were posting more images in social media posts rather than videos and links (Capriotti, Carretón & Castillo, 2016; McCorkindale, 2010). These findings suggest that organizations are using their available resources to publish visual (graphic) content. Some practitioners were not utilizing other formats including interactive, audiovisual resources, in their corporate communication. These latter resources could improve the organizations’ engagement with online users.
Effective communicative exchange in social networks
The effective communicative exchange involves continuous interactions between the organizations and the online users, and among the online users themselves, within social networks. The successful dialogic exchanges rely on the parties’ responsiveness as well as on ongoing conversations (Anderson et al., 2016; Kiousis, 2002; Rafaeli, 1988; Walther, Deandrea, Kim & Anthony, 2010). Thus, the communicational exchange between the organizations and their publics is dependent on various forms of interactive engagement (e.g. likes, comments, follows, tagging, mentions with hashtags, group memberships, etc.). The greater implementation of the conversational exchange will represent a higher level of interaction.
The responsiveness is evidenced when the recipients react to the communications that they receive. This is usually demonstrated when there is a response or reply (from the part of the recipient of the information) to an original message. For example, the ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ of the social media networks would clearly indicate the online users’ responsiveness to the organizational communications (Anderson et al., 2016; Macnamara, 2014). The likes suggest that the individuals are (somehow) appreciating the posted content (within social media), albeit in a passive manner. Recently, Facebook has introduced other features in addition to its popular like function, including love, care, haha, wow, sad and angry emojis. Similarly, Linkedin has included the like, celebrate, love, insightful and curious emojis. Yet, these forms of communication do not involve any verbal expression from the social media users. On the other hand, when individuals share posts (and links) of organizations, or of third parties in their profile, they become volunteer spokesmen for them as they promote their content (Abitbol & Lee, 2017; Cho, Schweickart & Haase, 2014). Therefore, a fourth key dimension is to measure Responsiveness, by studying the rate of support and viralization generated by organizations on social networks.
Organizations are encouraged to measure their social media users’ responsiveness to their digital content that they share via social networks. For instance, individuals may exhibit different ‘levels of responsiveness’ toward the organizations’ posts through social media platforms. Their degree of responsiveness may be evaluated by the social media users’ engagement, in terms of: 1) Rate of Likes: obtained from the average of total likes by company and post in relation to the number of followers of companies; (2) Rate of Shares: obtained from the total average of shares by company and post in relation to the number of companies’ followers. Hence, organizations can use these quantitative measures to better understand the level of responsiveness to their social media activity.
The conversation dimension involves interactive communicative exchanges between two or more parties. The recipients of the communication interact with the communicator and engage in conversations. For example, online users can dialogue and exchange their insights with organizations through the social networks (Anderson et al., 2016; Kiousis, 2002; Walther et al., 2010). The conversation on social networks is usually manifested through ‘comments’. The comments are the most genuine expression of the online users’ interaction on social networks. They are considered as most relevant element as they provide a rich source of qualitative data to organizations. They require much more commitment than likes and shares, as organizations are expected to respond to the social media users’ comments and to engage in direct conversations with them. Hence, online conversations facilitate the communicative exchange between the organizations and the publics (Abitbol & Lee, 2017; Cho et al., 2014). Therefore, a fifth key dimension analyse the rate of conversation generated by organizations on social networks.
The digital conversations provide qualitative insights to organizations about their followers or other online users. The organizations may capture and analyse the interpretative content of online users through social media posts and comments. The quantitative measures may include: a) Intensity: this refers to the total general number of exchanges between an organization and their publics, based on the rate of comments. (b) Reciprocity: this refers to measuring whether there is equitable communication between an organization and its followers, analysing the level of balance in the exchange between an organization and its publics, obtained from the total percentage of comments made by users and companies. Thus, the more balanced the communicational exchange between an organization and its publics, the greater the quality of the interaction. And the more imbalanced the communicational exchange between an organization and its publics, the poorer the quality of interaction. Thus, it is in the interest of organizations to maintain a balanced communicational exchange with their publics.
The full version of this chapter (a pre-publication version of this contribution) is available through ResearchGate and Academia.edu.
This is an excerpt from one of my latest chapters on online marketing methods.
Suggested Citation: Hajarian, M., Camilleri, M. A., Diaz, P., & Aedo, I. (2021). A taxonomy of online marketing methods for corporate communication. In M. A. Camilleri (Ed.), Strategic corporate communication in the digital age. Bingley: Emerald, pp. 235-250. DOI: 10.1108/978-1-80071-264-520211014
One of the well-known online marketing methods is the use of email marketing. It is one of the most popular digital tactics. Despite the current popularity of social media, many individuals still prefer to receive the news about the brands via emails (Camilleri, 2018a). Email marketing is very effective in terms of return on investment (ROI). However, there are many ways that can improve the email marketing performance (Conceição & Gama, 2019). Sahni, Wheeler and Chintagunta (2018) found that by personalizing email marketing (e.g. adding the name of the receiver to the email subject), the probability that the receiver reads the email increases by 20%. Conceição and Gama (2019) have developed a classification algorithm to predict the effectiveness of email campaign. The authors suggested that the open rates were based on the keywords that were featured inside the email. They maintained that the utilization of personalized messages and the inclusion of question marks in the subjects of the email can increase the chance of opening an email. Moreover, they hinted that there are specific times during the day where there are more chances that the marketing emails will be noticed and read by their recipients. These times can be identified by using data mining technologies.
Direct emails could be forwarded to specific users for different reasons. Evans, (2018) described advertising emails in three categories: (i) promotional emails that raise awareness about attractive offers, including discounts and reduced prices of products and services. This type of email is very helpful to increase sales and customer loyalty. Some innovative marketers are using disruptive technologies, including gamification to reward and incentivize online users to click their email links; (ii) electronic newsletters that are aimed at building consumer engagement. Hence, these emails ought to provide high-quality, interactive content to online users. These emails are also known as relational emails that are intended to build a rapport with online users; (iii) confirmation emails that are used to confirm to the customers that their online transactions were carried out successfully. These types of emails are very valuable in terms of branding and corporate image. In sum, the electronic newsletters are intended to redirect online users to the businesses’ websites.
Another major online marketing method is the social network marketing. Brands and corporations can feature their page on social media networks (e.g. Facebook or Instagram) to communicate with their customers and/or promote their products and services to their followers. This can result in an improved brand awareness and a surge in sales. On the other hand, customers can write their reviews about brands or even purchase products online (Smith, Hernández-García, Agudo Peregrina & Hair, 2016). Thus, social network marketing can have a positive impact on electronic positive eWOM advertising in addition to enhancing the customers’ loyalty (Smith et al, 2016).
There are other forms of social network marketing including influencer marketing, video marketing and viral marketing, among others. The social networks are providing various benefits to various marketers as they can use them to publish their content online. Their intention is to influence online users and to entice them to purchase their products or services. Liang, Wang and Zhao (2019) have developed a novel algorithm that can identify the effects of influencer marketing content. Notwithstanding, various social networks such as Facebook and Instagram are increasingly placing the businesses’ video ads for their subscribers. In both cases, the advertisers may use Facebook marketing (Instagram is owned by Facebook) to identify the most appropriate subscribers to serve their ads (Camilleri, 2019). The social networks are a very suitable place for targeted advertising because they have access to a wide range of user information such as their demographical details, and other relevant information (Hajarian, Bastanfard, Mohammadzadeh & Khalilian, 2019a). However, online users may not always be interested in the marketers’ social media messages. As a result, they may decide to block or filter ads (Camilleri, 2020).
One of the most profitable and interesting online marketing methods is the Electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM) (see Hajarian, Bastanfard, Mohammadzadeh & Khalilian, 2017). The internet users are increasingly engaging in eWOM. More individuals are sharing their positive or negative statements about products or services (Ismagilova, Dwivedi, Slade & Williams, 2017). Hence, the individual users’ reviews in online fora, blogs, and social media can be considered as eWOM. Ismagilova et al. (2017) stated that the businesses would benefit through positive eWOM as this would improve their positioning in their consumers’ minds. Moreover, eWOM is also useful to prospective consumers as they rely on the consumers’ independent comments about their experience with the businesses’ products or services. The consumers’ reviews and ratings can reduce the risk and search time of prospective consumers. In addition, individuals can use the review platforms to ask questions and/or interact with other users. These are some of the motivations that lure online users to engage in eWOM.
Influencer marketing is another type of online marketing that is conspicuous with the social media. The influencers may include those online users who are promoting products or brands to their audiences. Hence, influencer marketing is closely related to eWOM advertising. However, in this case, the influencer may be a popular individual including a celebrity, figurehead or an athlete who will usually have a high number of followers on social media. The influencers may be considered as the celebrities of online social networks. They are proficient in personal branding (Jin & Muqaddam, 2019). Hence, the social media influencers will promote their image like a brand. Thus, the influencer marketing, involves the cooperation of two brands, the social media influencer and the brand that s/he are promoting (Jin & Muqaddam, 2019). Social media influencers can charge up to $250,000 for each post (Lieber, 2018), although this depends on the number of their audience and the platform that they are active on. The influencers work on different topics such as lifestyle, fashion, comedy, politics and gaming (Stoldt, 2019). It is projected that influencer marketing will become a $5 to $10 billion market by 2020 (Mediakix, 2019). It is worth to mention that the gaming influencers are also becoming very successful in online marketing.
Viral marketing is another method of online marketing that can be performed by regular social media users (not necessarily influencers). The social media subscribers can disseminate online content, including websites, images and videos among friends, colleagues and acquaintances (Daif & Elsayed, 2019). Their social media posts may become viral (like a virus) if they are appreciated by their audiences. In this case, the posts will be shared and reshared by third parties. The most appealing or creative content can turn viral in different social media. For example, breaking news or emotional content, including humoristic videos have the potential to become viral content as they are usually appreciated and shared by social media users.
The social networks as well as the messengers like Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, et cetera are ideal vehicles of viral marketing as online users and their contacts are active on them. Similarly, other marketing methods such as email marketing can also be used as a tool for viral marketing. In viral marketing the influencers can play a very important role as they can spread the message among their followers. Hence, the most influential people could propagate online content that can turn viral. Nguyen, Thai and Dinh (2016) have developed algorithms that identify the most effective social media influencers that have more clout among their followers. In a similar way, businesses can identify and recruit influential social media users to disseminate their promotional content (Pfeiffer & Zheleva, 2018). Their viral marketing strategies may involve mass-marketing sharing incentives, where users receive rewards for promoting ads among their friends (Pfeiffer & Zheleva, 2018). There are business websites that are incentivizing online users, by offering financial rewards if they invite their friends to use their services.
Videos are one of the best methods for marketing. Abouyounes (2019) estimated that over 80% of internet traffic was related to videos in 2019. He projected that US businesses will spend $28 billion on video marketing in 2020. The relevant literature suggests that individuals may be intrigued to share emotional videos. Such videos may even go viral (Nikolinakou & King, 2018). The elements of surprise, happiness as well as other factors such as the length of the video can affect whether a video turns viral or not. Abouyounes’s (2019) reported that the individuals would share a video with their friends if they found it to be interesting. Alternatively, they may decide to disseminate such videos on social media to share cognitive (informational) and/or emotional messages among their contacts. Hence, the term social video marketing refers to those videos that can increase the social media users’ engagement with video content. Over 77% of the business that have used social video marketing have reported a positive direct impact on their online metrics (Camilleri, 2017).
With the rise of social media, many online users have started to refine the content of their online messages to appeal to the different digital audiences. The online users’ content marketing involves the creation of relevant messages that are shared via videos, blogs and social media content. These messages are intended to stimulate the recipients’ interest. The content marketers’ aim is to engage with existing and potential customers (Järvinen & Taiminen, 2016). Therefore, their marketing messages ought to be relevant for their target audiences. The online users may not perceive that the marketed content is valuable and informative for them. Thus, the content should be carefully adapted to the targeted audience. The content marketers may use various interactive systems to engage with online users in order to gain their trust (Montero, Zarraonandia, Diaz, & Aedo, 2019; Díaz, Aedo & Zarraonandia, 2019a; Díaz, Zarraonandía, Sánchez-Francisco, Aedo & Onorati, 2019b; Díaz & Ioannou, 2019c; Baltes, 2015). To this end, the advertisers should analyze the interests of their target audience to better understand their preferred content. Successful content marketing relies on the creation of convincing and timely messages that appeal to online users. Zarrella (2013) study suggested that some Facebook and Twitter content is more effective during particular times of the day and in some days of the week.
Native advertising present promotional content including articles, infographics, videos, et cetera that are integrated within the platforms where they are featured (e.g. in search engines or social media). In 2014, various business invested more than $3.2 billion in this type of digital advertising (Wojdynski & Evans, 2016). Native ads may include banners or short articles that are presented in webpages. However, online users would be redirected to other webpages if they click on them. Parsana, Poola, Wang and Wang (2018) has explored the click-through rates (CTR) of native advertisements as they examined the historic data of online users. Other studies investigated how native ads were consistent in different situations and pages (Lin, 2018).
The advertorials are similar to native ads as they are featured as reports or as recommendations within websites. They are presented in such a way that the reader thinks that they are part of the news (Charlesworth, 2018). This type of advertising can be featured as video or infographic content that will redirect the online users to the advertisers’ websites. Besides, these ads may indicate a small “sponsored by” note that is usually ignored by the online users. In some regards, this is similar to the editorial content marketing, where editors write promotional content about a company or a website. However, in the case of editorial marketing, the main purpose is to educate or to inform the readers about a specific subject. Therefore, such a news item is usually presented free of charge as it appears at the discretion of the editor. Nevertheless, both advertorial and editorial marketing can have a positive impact on brand awareness and brand equity.
Various technologies companies including Google and Facebook are providing location-based marketing opportunities to many businesses. However, this innovative marketing approach relies on the individuals’ willingness to share their location data with their chosen mobile applications (apps). For example, foursquare, among other apps, can send messages to its mobile users (if they enable location sharing). It can convey messages about the users favorite spots, including businesses, facilities, et cetera, when they are located in close proximity to them (Guzzo, D’Andrea, Ferri & Grifoni, 2012).
Currently, the messengers are growing at a very fast pace. It may appear that they are becoming more popular than the social networks. Messengers such as WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and QQ, among others, have over 4.6 billion active users in a month (Mehner, 2019). This makes them a very attractive channel for online marketing. Since messengers can provide a private, secure connection between the business and their customers, they are very useful tools for marketing purposes. Moreover, the messengers can be used in conjunction with other advertisement methods like display (or banner) marketing, viral marketing, click-to-message ads, et cetera. Online or mobile users can use the messengers to communicate with a company representative (or bot) on different issues. They may even raise their complaints through such systems. Some messengers like Apple Business Chat and WeChat, among others have also integrated in-app payments. Hence, the messengers have lots of possible features and can be used to improve the business-to-consumer (B2C) relationships. In addition, other messengers like Skype, Google Meet, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex, et cetera can provide video conferencing platforms for corporations and small businesses. These systems have become very popular communication tools during COVID-19.
Other online marketing approaches can assist corporations in building their brand equity among customers. Various businesses are organizing virtual events and webinars to engage with their target audience. They may raise awareness about their events by sending invitations (via email) to their subscribers (Harvey & An, 2018). The organization of the virtual meetings are remarkably cheaper than face-to-face meetings (Lande, 2011). They can be recorded and/or broadcast to wider audiences through live streaming technologies via social media (Veissi, 2017). Today, online users can also use Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn live streaming facilities to broadcast their videos in real time and share them amongst their followers.
The display (or banner) marketing may usually comprise promotional videos, images and/or textual content. They are usually presented in webpages and applications. Thus, online banners may advertise products or services on internet websites to increase brand awareness (Turban et al, 2018). The display ads may be created by the website owners themselves. Alternatively, they may have been placed by Google Adsense on behalf of their customers (advertisers).
The display advertisements may also be featured in digital and mobile games. Such online advertisements are also known as in-game marketing. The digital ads can be included within the games’ apps and/or may also be accessed through popular social networks. The in-game marketing may either be static (as the ads cannot be modified after the game was released) or dynamic (where new ads will be displayed via Internet connections) (Terlutter & Capella, 2013). Lewis and Porter (2010) suggested that in-game advertising should be harmonious with the games’ environments. There are different forms of advertisements that can be featured in games. For instance, advergames are serious games that have been developed in close collaboration with a corporate entity for advertising purposes (Terlutter & Capella, 2013), e.g. Pepsi man game for PlayStation.
The latest online marketing technologies are increasingly using interactive systems like augmented reality. These innovations are being utilized to enhance the businesses’ engagement with their consumers (Díaz et al., 2019b). The augmented reality software can help the businesses to promote their products (Turban et al, 2018). For example, IKEA (the furnishing company) has introduced an augmented reality application to help their customers to visualize how their products would appear in their homes. Similarly, online fashion stores can benefit from augmented reality applications as their customers can customize their personal avatars with their appearance, in terms of size, length and body type, to check out products well before they commit to purchase them (Montero et al., 2019).
The banner advertising was one of the earliest forms of digital marketing. However, there were other unsophisticated online marketing tactics that were used in the past. Some of these methods are still being used by some marketers. For instance, online users can list themselves and/or their organization in an online directory. This marketing channel is similar to the traditional yellow pages (Guzzo et al., 2012). The online directory has preceded the search engine marketing (SEM). This form of online advertising involves paid advertisements that appear on search engine results pages (like native ads). Currently, SEM is valued at $70 billion market by 2020 (Aswani, Kar, Ilavarasan & Dwivedi, 2018). The advertisements may be related to specific keywords that are used in search queries. SEM can be presented in a variety of formats, including small, text-based ads or visual, product listing ads. The advertisers bid on the keywords that are used in the search engines. Therefore, they will pay the search engines like Google and Bing to feature their ads alongside the search results.
The search engine optimization (SEO) is different than SEM. The individuals or organizations do not have to pay the search engine for traffic and clicks. SEO involves a set of practices that are intended to improve the websites’ visibility within the search results of search engines. The search engines algorithms can optimize the search results of certain websites, (i) if they have published relevant content, (ii) if they regularly update their content, and (iii) if they include link-worthy sites. Although, SEO is a free tool, Google AdWords and Bing ads are two popular search engine marketing platforms that can promote websites in their search engines (through their SEM packages). Various researchers have relied on different scientific approaches to optimise the search engine results of their queries. For example, Wong, Collins and Venkataraman, (2018) have used machine learning methods to identify which ad placements and biddings were yielding the best return of investment from Google Adwords.
Several businesses are increasingly promoting their products and services through different channels. Their marketing managers and executives are utilizing different digital media (including social networks, blogs, wikis, electronic fora, webinars, podcasts, videos, et cetera) to reach wider audiences (Camilleri, 2019a). Very often, they are publishing relevant, high quality content online, at the right place and at the right times. Such content may be targeted at particular segments, niches or individual prospects. At times, they are also benefiting of digital content that is co-created by other online users (Harrigan & Miles, 2014), as the Internet’s lack of gatekeeping has led to an increased engagement from many users (Camilleri, 2018a). The interactive media have enabled the emergence of a new participatory public sphere where everybody can dialogically interact and collaborate in the co-creation of content (Lamberton & Stephen, 2016; Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).
The communications through digital media can be dynamic and in real time. Therefore, online users can increase direct interactions with organizations and other audiences (Camilleri, 2018b; Schultz, Utz & Göritz, 2011). Such interactive communications are often referred to as “viral” because ideas and opinions can spread through the web via word‐of‐mouth (Hajarian, Camilleri, Diaz & Aedo, 2020). There are several online channels that incorporate highly scalable, product recommender systems that feature independent reviews and rankings. These channels are often perceived as highly trustworthy sources by prospective customers (Filieri, 2016). The emergence of user-generated content in newsgroups, social media and crowdsourcing have led to positive or negative word of mouth publicity on brands, products and services (Rios Marques, Casais & Camilleri, 2020).
Such communicative features have become widely pervasive online (Tiago & Veríssimo 2014; Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). For this reason, businesses need to acquaint themselves with the use of digital media in order to increase the impact of their communications. There is an opportunity for them to use interactive technologies to increase the frequency and reach of their messages (Camilleri, 2019a; Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Hence, their marketing executives ought to embrace the digital media to amplify the impact of their message. However, they need to create the right message to reach out to their chosen prospects. Notwithstanding, the businesses’ online engagement is neither automatic nor easy (Tiago & Veríssimo, 2014; Besiou, Hunter & Van Wassenhove, 2013). The dialogic features that are enabled by web pages, blogs, and other social media may prove difficult to apply (Camilleri, 2020a; Capriotti, Zeler & Camilleri, 2020).
To date, little empirical research has measured the corporate communications executives’ acceptance to use the digital media to promote products and/or to engage with online users. Previous studies reported that there are still many businesses that are not benefiting enough of social media, as they did not untap its full potential (Taiminen & Karjaluoto, 2015). Perhaps, they did not consider them as effective communications channels to promote products and services (Rather & Camilleri, 2019; Sin Tan, Choy Chong, Lin & Uchenna, 2010), or they depended on traditional advertising and promotions. Alternatively, businesses may lack the digital competences and skills to engage with online prospects; or may not possess sufficient resources to engage with them through the digital media (Camilleri, 2019b; Brouthers, Nakos & Dimitratos, 2015).
This contribution addresses a knowledge gap in academic literature as it examines the corporate communications executives’ technology acceptance and their behavioral intentions to engage in interactive technologies. It adapted valid and reliable measures that explored the respondents’ pace of technological innovation, social influences, as well as their perceptions on the usefulness and the ease of use of digital media. Moreover, this study examined the participants’ intentions to engage with interactive technologies. It investigated whether the chosen constructs of our research model, were affected by the demographic variables, including age, gender and experiences. It shed light on the causal path that explains the rationale behind the utilization of digital media for interactive engagement with online users.
The study adapted the constructs from the technology acceptance model and from the theory of planned behavior. In sum, it hypothesizes that the individuals’ pace of technological innovation, perceived usefulness, ease of use and social influences are the antecedents of their behavioral intention to use the digital media for interactive engagement with online users. Moreover, it presumes that the demographic variables, including age, gender and experience mediate these relationships, as illustrated in Figure 1.
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This authoritative book features a broad spectrum of theoretical and empirical contributions on topics relating to corporate communications in the digital age. It is a premier reference source and a valuable teaching resource for course instructors of advanced, undergraduate and post graduate courses in marketing and communications. It comprises fourteen engaging and timely chapters that appeal to today’s academic researchers including doctoral candidates, postdoctoral researchers, early career academics, as well as seasoned researchers. All chapters include an abstract, an introduction, the main body with headings and subheadings, conclusions and research implications. They were written in a critical and discursive manner to entice the curiosity of their readers.
Chapter 1 provides a descriptive overview of different online technologies and presents the findings from a systematic review on corporate communication and digital media. Camilleri (2020) implies that institutions and organizations ought to be credible and trustworthy in their interactive, dialogic communications during day-to-day operations as well as in crisis situations, if they want to reinforce their legitimacy in society. Chapter 2 clarifies the importance of trust and belonging in individual and organizational relationships. Allen, Sven, Marwan and Arslan (2020) suggest that trust nurtures social interactions that can ultimately lead to significant improvements in corporate communication and other benefits for organizations. Chapter 3 identifies key dimensions for dialogic communication through social media. Capriotti, Zeler and Camilleri (2020) put forward a conceptual framework that clarifies how organizations can enhance their dialogic communications through interactive technologies. Chapter 4 explores the marketing communications managers’ interactive engagement with the digital media. Camilleri and Isaias (2020) suggest that the pace of technological innovation, perceived usefulness, ease of use of online technologies as well as social influences are significant antecedents for the businesses’ engagement with the digital media. Chapter 5 explains that the Balanced Scorecard’s (BSC) performance management tools can be used to support corporate communications practitioners in their stakeholder engagement. Oliveira, Martins, Camilleri and Jayantilal (2020) imply that practitioners can use BSC’s metrics to align their communication technologies, including big data analytics, with organizational strategy and performance management, in the digital era. Chapter 6 focuses on UK universities’ corporate communications through Twitter. Mogaji, Watat, Olaleye and Ukpabi (2020) find that British universities are increasingly using this medium to attract new students, to retain academic employees and to promote their activities and events. Chapter 7 investigates the use of mobile learning (m-learning) technologies for corporate training. Butler, Camilleri, Creed and Zutshi (2020) shed light on key contextual factors that can have an effect on the successful delivery of continuous professional development of employees through mobile technologies.
Chapter 8 evaluates the effects of influencer marketing on consumer-brand engagement on Instagram. Rios Marques, Casais and Camilleri (2020) identify two types of social media influencers. Chapter 9 explores in-store communications of large-scale retailers. Riboldazzi and Capriello (2020) use an omni-channel approach as they integrate traditional and digital media in their theoretical model for informative, in-store communications. Chapter 10 indicates that various corporations are utilizing different social media channels for different purposes. Troise and Camilleri (2020) contend that they are using them to promote their products or services and/or to convey commercial information to their stakeholders. Chapter 11 appraises the materiality of the corporations’ integrated disclosures of financial and non-financial performance. Rodríguez-Gutiérrez (2020) identifies the key determinants for the materiality of integrated reports.Chapter 12 describes various electronic marketing (emarketing) practices of micro, small and medium sized enterprises in India. Singh, Kumar and Kalia (2020) conclude that Indian owner-managers are not always engaging with their social media followers in a professional manner. Chapter 13 suggests that there is scope for small enterprises to use Web 2.0 technologies and associated social media applications for branding, advertising and corporate communication. Oni (2020) maintains that social media may be used as a marketing communications tool to attract customers and for internal communications with employees. Chapter 14 shed light on the online marketing tactics that are being used for corporate communication purposes. Hajarian, Camilleri, Diaz and Aedo (2020) outline different online channels including one-way and two-way communication technologies.
“Digital communications are increasingly central to the process of building trust, reputation and support. It’s as true for companies selling products as it is for politicians canvasing for votes. This book provides a framework for understanding and using online media and will be required reading for serious students of communication”.
Dr. Charles J. Fombrun, Former Professor at New York University, NYU-Stern School, Founder & Chairman Emeritus, Reputation Institute/The RepTrak Company.
“This book has addressed a current and relevant topic relating to an important aspect of digital transformation. Various chapters of this book provide valuable insights about a variety of issues relating to “Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age”. The book will be a useful resource for both academics and practitioners engaged in marketing- and communications-related activities. I am delighted to endorse this valuable resource”.
Dr. Yogesh K. Dwivedi, Professor at the School of Management at Swansea University, UK and Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Information Management.
“This title covers a range of relevant issues and trends related to strategic corporate communication in an increasingly digital era. For example, not only does it address communication from a social media, balanced scorecard, and stakeholder engagement perspective, but it also integrates relevant contemporary insights related to SMEs and COVID-19. This is a must-read for any corporate communications professional or researcher”.
Dr. Linda Hollebeek, Associate Professor at Montpellier Business School, France and Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia.
“Corporate communication is changing rapidly, and digital media represent a tremendous opportunity for companies of all sizes to better achieve their communication goals. This book provides important insights into relevant trends and charts critical ways in which digital media can be used to their full potential”
Dr. Ulrike Gretzel, Director of Research at Netnografica and Senior Fellow at the Center for Public Relations, University of Southern California, USA.
“This new book by Professor Mark Camilleri promises again valuable insights in corporate communication in the digital era with a special focus on Corporate Social Responsibility. The book sets a new standard in our thinking of responsibilities in our digital connected world”.
Dr. Wim Elving, Professor at Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen, The Netherlands.
Allen, K.A. Sven, G.T., Marwan, S. & Arslan, G. (2020). Trust and belonging in individual and organizational relationships. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.
Butler, A. Camilleri, M.A., Creed, A. & Zutshi, A. (2020). The use of mobile learning technologies for corporate training and development: A contextual framework. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.
Camilleri, M.A. (2020). Strategic dialogic communication through digital media during COVID-19. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.
Camilleri, M.A. & Isaias, P. (2020). The businesses’ interactive engagement through digital media. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.
Capriotti, P., Zeler, I. & Camilleri, M.A. (2020). Corporate communication through social networks: The identification of key dimensions for dialogic communication. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.
Hajarian, M., Camilleri, M.A.. Diaz, P & Aedo, I. (2020). A taxonomy of online marketing methods for corporate communication. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.
Mogaji, E., Watat, J.K., Olaleye, S.A. & Ukpabi, D. (2020). Recruit, retain and report: UK universities’ strategic communication with stakeholders on Twitter. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.
Oliveira, C., Martins, A., Camilleri, M.A. & Jayantilal, S. (2020). Using the balanced scorecard for strategic communication and performance management. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.
Oni, O. (2020). Small and medium sized enterprises’ engagement with social media for corporate communication. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.
Riboldazzi, S. & Capriello, A. (2020). Large-scale retailers, digital media and in-store communications. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.
Rios Marques, I., Casais, B. & Camilleri, M.A. (2020). The effect of macro celebrity and micro influencer endorsements on consumer-brand engagement on Instagram. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.
Rodríguez-Gutiérrez, P. (2020). Corporate communication and integrated reporting: the materiality determination process and stakeholder engagement in Spain. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.
Singh, T., Kumar, R. & Kalia, P. (2020). E-marketing practices of micro, small and medium sized enterprises. Evidence from India. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.
Troise, C. & Camilleri, M.A. (2020). The use of the digital media for marketing, CSR communication and stakeholder engagement. In Camilleri, M.A. (Ed.), Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK.
Many online users have subscribed to different social media, including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, among others for different reasons. Individuals and groups use them to publish their ideas in writing, images or videos. They also enable them to share hyperlinks to articles, pictures and videos. There are social media users who like to follow the updates of their friends, colleagues, acquaintances or individuals who share their interests. Very often, the news is broadcast through social networks and is disseminated in a viral manner through the social media users’ likes or shares before it is covered by the traditional media like television and newspapers. Online users may be intrigued to use the social media create their social network, or to join virtual communities. They may do so to connect with other individuals who shared their interests and values. Many online users have subscribed to different social media, including Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin, among others for different reasons.
Individuals and groups use these social media to publish their ideas in writing, images or videos. They also enable them to share hyperlinks to articles, pictures and videos. There are social media users who like to follow the updates of their friends, colleagues, acquaintances or individuals who share their interests. Very often, the news is broadcast through social networks and is disseminated in a viral manner through the social media users’ likes or shares before it is covered by the traditional media like television and newspapers. Online users may be intrigued to use the social media create their social network, or to join virtual communities. They may do so to connect with other individuals who shared their interests or values.
Facebook is used by various organisations, including businesses to engage with its users. For example, different businesses are creating interactive pages and groups to disseminate information about their products and services. They utilise Facebook Messenger, or live videos to enhance their communications. Facebook is also used by academics to enhance the visibility of their publications and to raise awareness about the findings from their research. However, individuals use this medium to keep in touch with friends, colleagues, classmates, former classmates, former co-workers, and with other individuals who may share similar interests.
Like Facebook, other social media, including Twitter can be used to target large audiences and communities. Twitter is a platform that is based on topical content. Generally, its users are encouraged to use keywords and hashtags on particular topics, in particular locations. Twitter is restricted with a 280-character limit. Therefore, its subscribers have to post short, focused messages with relevant content that appeals to their followers. Moreover, they are expected to dedicate time to look after their account as they need to respond to their followers to avoid negative criticism. However, it allows direct, two-way communications among subscribers. Hence, it can be used to engage in interactive conversations with other users. Other digital networks include Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest. Instagram and Pinterest are focused on the dissemination of images and visual content. Like Instagram, Snapchat also features videos and user-generated content and may include influencer marketing material. On the other hand, Reddit appeals to more than 150,000 communities and niches, who share similar interests on various topics.
The usage of social media has radically influenced the style of communication and the dissemination of knowledge and information. Platforms can be personalised, self-managed and interconnected as they can blend written content with images, videos and hyperlinks. This disruptive innovation has led individuals from different demographic segments in society, to refine their digital and communication skills. It is obvious that social media has impacted our way of thinking, talking and even our social lives.
This is an excerpt from one of my latest working papers entitled; “The impact of social media and fake news on socio-political contexts”.
Strategic Corporate Communication and Stakeholder Engagement in the Digital Age
Abstract submission deadline: 30th September 2019
Full chapters due: 31st December 2019
The latest advances in technologies and networks have been central to the expansion of electronic content across different contexts. Contemporary communication approaches are crossing boundaries as new media are offering both challenges and opportunities. The democratisation of the production and dissemination of information via the online technologies has inevitably led individuals and organisations to share content (including images, photos, news items, videos and podcasts) via the digital and social media. Interactive technologies are allowing individuals and organisations to co-create and manipulate electronic content. At the same time, they enable them to engage in free-flowing conversations with other online users, groups or virtual communities (Camilleri, 2017). Innovative technologies have empowered the organisations’ stakeholders, including; employees, investors, customers, local communities, government agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), as well as the news media, among others. Both internal and external stakeholders are in a better position to scrutinise the organisations’ decisions and actions. For this reason, there is scope for the practitioners to align their corporate communication goals and activities with the societal expectations (Camilleri, 2015; Gardberg & Fombrun, 2006). Therefore, organisations are encouraged to listen to their stakeholders. Several public interest organisations, including listed businesses, banks and insurance companies are already sharing information about their financial and non-financial performance in an accountable and transparent manner. The rationale behind their corporate disclosures is to develop and maintain strong and favourable reputations among stakeholders (Camilleri, 2018; Cornelissen, 2008). The corporate reputation is “a perceptual representation of a company’s past actions and future prospects that describe the firm’s overall appeal to all of its key constituents when compared to other leading rivals” (Fombrun, 1996).
Business and media practitioners ought to be cognisant about the strategic role of corporate communication in leveraging the organisations’ image and reputation among stakeholders (Van Riel & Fombrun, 2007). They are expected to possess corporation communication skills as they need to forge relationships with different stakeholder groups (including employees, customers, suppliers, investors, media, regulatory authorities and the community at large). They have to be proficient in specialist areas, including; issues management, crises communication as well as in corporate social responsibility reporting, among other topics. At the same time, they should be aware about the possible uses of different technologies, including; artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, big data analytics, blockchain and internet of things, among others; as these innovative tools are disrupting today’s corporate communication processes.
This title shall explain how strategic communication and media management can affect various political, economic, societal and technological realities. Theoretical and empirical contributions can shed more light on the existing structures, institutions and cultures that are firmly founded on the communication technologies, infrastructures and practices. The rapid proliferation of the digital media has led both academics and practitioners to increase their interactive engagement with a multitude of stakeholders. Very often, they are influencing regulators, industries, civil society organisations and activist groups, among other interested parties. Therefore, this book’s valued contributions may include, but are not restricted to, the following topics:
Artificial Intelligence and Corporate Communication
Augmented and Virtual Reality in Corporate Communication
Blockchain and Corporate Communication
Big Data and Analytics in Corporate Communication
Branding and Corporate Reputation
Corporate Communication via Social Media
Corporate Communication Policy
Corporate Social Responsibility Communications
Crisis, Risk and Change Management
Digital Media and Corporate Communication
Fake News and Corporate Communication
Integrated Reporting of Financial and Non-Financial Performance
Internet Technologies and Corporate Communication
Internet of Things and Corporate Communication
Issues Management and Public Relations
Leadership and Change Communication
Measuring the Effectiveness of Corporate Communications
Metrics for Corporate Communication Practice
Press and Media Relationships
Stakeholder Management and Communication
Strategic Planning and Communication Management
This publication shall present the academics’ conceptual discussions that cover the contemporary topic of corporate communication in a concise yet accessible way. Covering both theory and practice, this publication shall introduce its readers to the key issues of strategic corporate communication as well as stakeholder management in the digital age. This will allow prospective practitioners to critically analyse future, real-life situations. All chapters will provide a background to specific topics as the academic contributors should feature their critical perspectives on issues, controversies and problems relating to corporate communication.
This authoritative book will provide relevant knowledge and skills in corporate communication that is unsurpassed in readability, depth and breadth. At the start of each chapter, the authors will prepare a short abstract that summarises the content of their contribution. They are encouraged to include descriptive case studies to illustrate real situations, conceptual, theoretical or empirical contributions that are meant to help aspiring managers and executives in their future employment. In conclusion, each chapter shall also contain a succinct summary that should outline key implications (of the findings) to academia and / or practitioners, in a condensed form. This will enable the readers to retain key information.
This textbook introduces aspiring practitioners as well as under-graduate and post-graduate students to the subject of corporate communication – in a structured manner. More importantly, it will also be relevant to those course instructors who are teaching media, marketing communications and business-related subjects in higher education institutions, including; universities and colleges. It is hoped that course conveners will use this edited textbook as a basis for class discussions.
Senior and junior academic researchers are invited to submit a 300-word abstract on or before the 30th June 2019. Submissions should be sent to Mark.A.Camilleri@um.edu.mt. Authors will be notified about the editorial decision during July 2019. The length of the chapters should be between 6,000- 8,000 words (including references, figures and tables). These contributions will be accepted on or before the 31st December 2019. The references should be presented in APA style (Version 6). All submitted chapters will be critically reviewed on a double-blind review basis. The authors’ and the reviewers’ identities will remain anonymous. All authors will be requested to serve as reviewers for this book. They will receive a notification of acceptance, rejection or suggested modifications – on or before the 15th February 2020.
Note: There are no submission or acceptance fees for the publication of this book. All abstracts / proposals should be submitted via the editor’s email.
Following the double-blind peer review process, the full chapters will be submitted to Springer Nature for final review. For additional information regarding the publisher, please visit https://www.springer.com/gp. This prospective publication will be released in 2020.
“Tourism Planning and Destination Marketing” was recently edited by Dr. Mark Anthony Camilleri, Ph.D. (Edinburgh).
This publication is written in an engaging style to entice the curiosity of its readers. It presents all the theory and the empirical studies in a simple and straightforward manner. It reports on the global tourism marketing environments that comprise a wide array of economic, socio-cultural and environmental issues. It also explains how ongoing advances in technology are bringing interesting developments in the tourism industry and its marketing mix.
This authoritative book provides theoretical and empirical insights on different tourism topics, including; destination marketing and branding, sustainable and responsible tourism, tourism technologies, digital marketing, travel distribution and more. It is also relevant to the industry practitioners, including consultants, senior executives and managers who work for destination management organisations, tourism offices, hotels, inbound / outbound tour operators and travel agents, among others.
The marketing of a destination relies on planning, organisation and the successful execution of strategies and tactics. Therefore, this authoritative book provides students and practitioners with relevant knowledge of tourism planning and destination marketing. The readers of this publication are equipped with a strong pedagogical base as they are presented conceptual discussions as well as empirical studies on different aspects of the travel and tourism industries.
The readers of this book will acquire a good understanding of the tourism marketing environment, destination branding, distribution channels, etourism, as well as relevant details on sustainable and responsible tourism practices, among other topics. They will appreciate that the tourism marketers, including destination management organisations (DMOs) are increasingly using innovative tools, including; digital media and ubiquitous technologies to engage with prospective visitors. Hence, this book also sheds light on contemporary developments in travel, tourism, hospitality, festivals and events.
Chapter 1 introduces the readers to the tourism concept as it describes the travel facilitators and motivators. Afterwards, it explains several aspects of the tourism product, including; the visitors’ accessibility, accommodation, attractions, activities and amenities. It categorises different travel markets; including; adventure tourism, business tourism (including meetings, incentives, conferences and events), culinary tourism, cultural (or heritage) tourism, eco-tourism (or sustainable tourism), educational tourism, health (or medical tourism), religious tourism, rural tourism, seaside tourism, sports tourism, urban (or city) tourism, wine tourism, among other niche areas.
Chapter 2 offers a critical review and analysis of relevant literature on the tourism product’s experiential perspective. The authors suggest that the customers’ experience is affected by cognitive, emotional, relational and sensorial aspects.
Chapter 3 examines Plog’s model of venturesomeness. The author provides a thorough review of 26 studies that have adopted this behavioural model. He maintains that this model could be used to identify the travellers’ psychographic characteristics as he correlates them with the destinations they visit.
Chapter 4 focuses on the coopetition features of tourism destinations. The author held that (competing) tourism service providers, including destination marketing organisations often cooperate to deliver positive customer experiences. In addition, he explained how seasonality and colocation issues can influence specific features of coopetition and collaborative practices in tourism destinations.
Chapter 5 explored the residents’ attitudes towards incoming tourism at Punta del Este, Uruguay. The authors suggest that the respondents were perceiving economic benefits from increased tourism figures. However, the same respondents indicated that they were aware about the socio-cultural costs of tourism.
Chapter 6 appraises the notions of sustainable and responsible tourism. It traces the origins of the concept of sustainable development and includes a critical review of key theoretical underpinnings. The author provides relevant examples of the social, environmental and economic impacts of tourism in vulnerable or sensitive climates.
Chapter 7 investigates the tourists’ experiences of Japan’s Tateyama and Hirakawa rural areas. The author suggests that the tourists’ experience of rural tourism has led them to appreciate the Japanese culture.
Chapter 8 sheds light on the eco-tourism concept. Following a thorough literature review, the authors imply that the service providers ought to identify their visitors’ motivation for eco-tourism destinations.
Chapter 9 clarifies how emerging technologies, including; augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are being used in the travel and tourism industries. The authors introduce the readers to the term, “phygital” as they argue that the tourists are seeking physical and virtual experiences. They suggest that AR and VR have the power to blend together the individuals’ perception of real and virtual spaces.
Chapter 10 explains the importance of organising events for destination marketing. The authors suggest that festivals and events can create a positive image of a destination. The destinations’ ongoing activities may lead to economic benefits to tourism operators as well as to the community, at large.
Chapter 11 posits that the destinations marketers ought to formulate their strategies prior to the planning and organising of events. The author contends that the effective management of events relies on stakeholder engagement, attracting sponsorships and the use of interactive media.
Chapter 12 describes Smart Tourism Local Service Systems (S-TLSS) that are intended to facilitate the engagement among various stakeholders. The authors suggest that S-TLSS supports the tourism planning and destination marketing in Caserta, Italy.
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