The Impact of Social Media Marketing on Tourism

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Lebanon’s area is ranked 170th in the world (CIA, 2014). It is smaller than the size of Connecticut, one of the smallest states in America. Moreover, Lebanon is one of the few democratic nations in the Middle East region. Regarding the economy, Lebanon is a free marketplace economy and has a very long custom of laissez-faire economics. In addition to the coastal location on the Eastern Mediterranean sea coast, Lebanon is considered as the main ‘window’ of the Middle East to Europe, North Africa, and the remaining world. Because of this, its economy went through some very prosperous times plus was even once called the ‘Paris’ of the Middle East before the place’s 15 year-long bloody civil battle which ended in 1990.

Also, although Lebanon is tiny, additionally it is one of the most diverse nations in the world. Christians, Muslims, Druze, and other minority sects are spread all over the small nation and even Lebanon’s political system is depending on sectarian power sharing.

However , this particular diversity had played a pivotal role in the nation’s problems. This diversity was a necessary condition from the country’s sectarian civil war plus currently plays an important role in the political paralysis, although other factors (mainly foreign) are to blame as well. There is certainly currently no acting President and the country’s rival political parties keep bickering and preventing rather than facilitating the country’s development.

Furthermore, Lebanon’s proximity to Israel has made it a foreign policy/proxy battleground regarding foreign nations, each using Lebanon for its own selfish ends.

The particular sad political realities of the country have significantly hurt the nation’s economy. Also, since Lebanon is really a service-based economy, this particular sector has brought the largest hit.

Tourism plays a substantial role in the nation’s economy. According to the Lebanese Ministry of Economy & Trade (MOET), “Tourism has long been certainly one of Lebanon’s leading economic sectors” (Economic Research Unit, 2010).

Furthermore, The World Travel & Tourism Council approximated that the travel & tourism sector in Lebanon contributed over $4 billion dollars in 2013 (World Travel & Tourism Council, 2014).

The travel & tourism industry made up about 10% of the economy in 2012 but that share fallen to 9% in 2013 (ibid, p. 14). This is due to the political situation in the country as well as some other factors. Furthermore, the number of tourist arrivals in the country held decreasing from 2011 to 2013.

Since the tourism industry has been fairly floundering in the past few years, the room for error becomes very small for companies in this industry. The political & economic situations are squeezing tourist-related (TR) businesses in Lebanon. This means that these businesses are forced to do more to produce up for increasing losses (or reducing profits) and with fewer resources. There is no telling when the political & economic situation in Lebanon will improve especially since the civil war in neighboring Syria shows no signs of abating.

There are several ways that Lebanese TR businesses may adapt during these times such as implementing downsizing policies and cutting back on marketing and advertising & advertising budgets. When financial recessions and tough times affect companies, the first things to get eliminated are usually marketing budgets. But especially considering that TR businesses need to do more marketing and advertising to make up for lost businesses, it’s not always a good idea.

One solution to this problem is to make the most of Social Media Marketing strategies since they cost small to no resources, perfect for the present economic situation in Lebanon.
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Social media marketing allows TR businesses to overcome obstructions of limited budgets and decreased business.

Problem Statement

During the past few years, the positive effect of social media on company has been extremely high (Kaplan ou al., 2010; Stelzner, 2010; Treem & Leonardi, 2012, p. 143; Baker & Green, 2014).

Furthermore, Facebook and Twitter fans of a specific brand are much more likely to recommend and buy from these brands than non-fans (Cruz & Mendelsohn, 2011). However we don’t need to make sure of social media’s impact on business through research studies. For social media users, which include more than 30% of the world, this fact is known. More and more businesses are inserting Social Media marketing tools into their marketing strategies plus, in some cases, have even become a fundamental element of their overall business strategy.

Naturally, one would expect that Lebanese companies would quickly adopt Social Media Marketing as a key role in their overall advertising strategies but this is not the case. With regards to the Middle East and especially Lebanon, the location is far behind the West in social media usage. Not only that, when it comes to businesses involved in the tourism industry, there is much room for growth. Little investment in technology is maintaining tourist businesses away from maximizing marketing and advertising opportunities given by social media.

The Lebanese tourism industry is not taking advantage of social media marketing tactics even though the advantages of doing so are usually apparent. This presents a great issue especially since the economy is going by way of a very rough time.

Moreover, Lebanese TR businesses and businesses in Lebanon in general are not adopting social networking tools as they should. This provides a huge problem in the waste associated with resources as well as significant missed opportunities as a larger target audience can be attained via social media enabling businesses that will adopt social media marketing tools gain a much better chance of success and prosperity.

Reason for the study

The fruits and advantages of social media marketing tools may take significant time to come regarding in Lebanon if we are ignorant of the factors that have led to preventing widespread social media marketing adoption.

Also, as long as no study goes into the issue of successfully implementing a social media marketing campaign within the Lebanese context, many TR businesses may be lost even if they decide to adopt social media marketing tools.

Additionally , despite the fact that there have been numerous studies in the West regarding effectively implementing social media marketing campaigns, the outcomes of these studies may or might not apply to the Lebanese context. Consequently , it is also the purpose of this study to discover those factors related to effectively implementing social media marketing among Lebanese TR businesses.

At the end, there is no doubt that social internet marketing plays an extremely important role in the advertising campaigns and even in the overall success associated with tourism-related businesses.

Lebanese Tourist-Related (TR) businesses fall far behind the particular developed world investing and taking advantage of SMM. Since there are many benefits of SMM, why is this so? Also, in order to catch up to the rest of the world, very best most effective way for Lebanese TR companies to deploy an SMM advertising campaign? So , it was the study’s purpose to find reasons linked to such reduced investment & use of SMM simply by Lebanese TR businesses and to assist these businesses in effectively using SMM.

Methodology

The purpose of this study will be twofold. This study aims to find out exactly what those factors are that are preventing the widespread adoption of social media marketing tools among Lebanese TR businesses. The philosophy used can be interpretivism, for an inductive approach to go from specific to general study, the strategy is ethnographic, as well as the methodology is qualitative. In-depth selection interviews are used with ten participants through ten different companies. Five businesses had high social media ‘visibility’ as well as the other five didn’t. So , the participants’ answers provided very useful information and solutions for the research problem.

Findings

The results found that one of the most relevant factors of little SMM investment & use by Lebanese TR businesses are that many don’t find benefits to using SMM and so don’t support it.

The results furthermore provided useful information on factors to get effectively implementing SMM by Lebanese TR businesses including the acceptance of SMM by ownership/decision-makers and the importance of these people in seeing the benefits of SMM. Also, problems with implementing SMM consist of negative customer feedback and inter-departmental energy struggles.

Recommendations include communicating the advantages of SMM to Lebanese TR companies which is of such high significance to get them to use SMM. There should also be an SMM strategy with a consistent schedule outlining the times to add content to social media sites as well as comprehensive monitoring of SM consumer comments about the business.

At the end, it is the researcher’s hope that the study assisted shed light on important aspects of SMM and its relation to Lebanese TR businesses. It is also hoped that the recommendations be taken into account by Lebanese TR businesses.

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