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In the past few years, social media play a significant role not only in media industry, but also in other industries. It is obvious that in short-term of future, the influence of social media will overtake traditional media. Currently, there are many reports have collected the data of social media. Based on the data collected by Kern (2012, p, 1) assert, Facebook has more than approximately 950 million active users in 2012, and almost 300 million photos uploaded per day, as well as around 2.5 billion content items shared per day. In addition, Barnett (2012, p, 1) point out, according to the data collected by Twopcharts, which is a third party Twitter analysis firm, the online social networking application Twitter have around 500 million registered users in 2012, and more than a billion tweets a week. In terms of YouTube, Smith (2012, p, 1) clamed, in the worldwide, there are 4 billion video views per day. Moreover, nearly ten hours of content were uploaded to YouTube in every minute (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010, p, 59). Furthermore, based on a report from Shi (2012, p, 11) purposed, “43 percent of Fortune 500 companies recognized the significant of social media in 2009”.
The world has changed dramatically since using social media, and also use this is a trend in the worldwide. Compare to western countries, a term of social media in China also has obvious development. However, based on the censorship of China, western social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, are blocked. As a result, Chinese firms developed Chinese visions of social media platforms. Shi (2012, p, 15) indicated, based on the data from China Internet Network Information Center, there are around 235 million Chinese social media users in 2011.
2.2.1 Definition of Social Media
Over the last few years, many scholars pay attention on the definition of social media. Each of them might reflect different features of social media. Based on studies by Kaplan and Haenlein (2010, p, 61) define, social media is “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated”. In addition, as an article by Poynter (2010, p, 24) indicated, social media, which is hard to define, is based on one-to-many model towards a many-to-many model, which allow users share, create content, video and photo. Furthermore, Lange-Faria and Elliot (2012, p, 195) shared the same opinion with Poynter about the term of social media, the authors concluded a key concept of social media is allowing users sharing, changing, updating and disseminating information. It seems that social media permit users to crate, distribute and share their own content, and also can comment or receive feedback in directly. In other words, “the term of social media refers to a variety of media that people use to communicate online in a social way” (Scott, 2010, cited in Nguyen & Wang, 2011, p, 18). According to research provided by Kaplan and Haenlein (2010, p, 63) point out that depend on level of social presence and media richness, and level of self disclosure and self presentation, social media composed of six types, namely blogs, social networking websites, (i.e. Facebook), content communities, (i.e. YouTube), virtual game worlds, collaborative projects and virtual social worlds. Currently, microblogs, such as Twitter, has become the member of social media. In general, Lange-Faria and Elliot (2012, p, 195) claimed, “organize social media into four domains: expressing, networking, sharing and gaming”.
2.2.2 Social media platforms
Currently, widely accepted social media is Facebook and Twitter. These two main social media platforms have some similar characteristics. For instance, both Facebook and Twitter are characterized by member-only and password-protection (Hvass & Munar, 2012, p, 95). However, based on review literature from Hvass and Munar, it can be found that Facebook allow organizations to create groups, official pages and profile, and users can unlimited access to page without requirements from the group administrator. Compare with Facebook, Twitter more emphasis on individuals, through 140 words to post personal opinion, information, and users can receive responses from others more efficiently. In other words, Twitter has more conversational feature than Facebook. In addition, as the same as Facebook, organizations are able to create their official account on Twitter (Hvass & Munar, 2012, p, 95).
Though the concept of social media from the West, but also social media in China has a significant development. For various reasons, western social media like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are blocked in China. However, based on local culture and technologies, China has developed a series of local versions. According to Baran (2011, p, 466) claims, “the China equivalents are Qzone and Renren for Facebook, Sina Weibo for Twitter (Weibo is the Mandarian word for microblog), Tudou and YouKu for YouTube”. Furthermore, based on the data collected by Sina (2011, p, 1) asserted, Sina Weibo had approximately 140 million active users in 2011, while Renren had 117 million users in 2010 (Colaizzi, 2010, p, 1). Furthermore, in China, current trend is either private or foreign-funded enterprises are tying to use Chinese social media sites to do promotion and marketing. As a research by Xinhua (2011, p, 1) indicated that almost five thousands organizations creative their official accounts in Sina Weibo. In these organizations also include some foreign government departments, such as department of Tourism Australia. As a result, social media in China already attract more attention from Western.
2.2.3 Social media in tourism
Some studies focus on the role of social media in tourism. Based on research provided by Fotis, Buhalis and Rossides (2012, p, 14) asserted, potential consumers depend on other travellers experiences during they make a decision. As a result, social media play an active role in tourism. According to Gretzel, Yoo and Purifoy (2007, p, 1) indicated, travellers share and comment travel experiences via social media, which can reduce risk, as well as increase desire and confidence of travellers. In addition, similar to research put forth by Zouganeli, Trihas and Antonaki (2011, p, 113) claimed, “Social media have a tremendous impact on how tourists nowadays create, organize and consume tourism experiences”. It clear that social media are becoming increasingly significant in tourism.
2.2.4 Tourism promotion in social media
In the past, traditional media like advertisements, brochures and films play a significant role in tourism promotion. However, at present using social media is a phenomenon in the world. Compare with traditional media, which is one-way communication channel, social media has participatory and selectivity functions. In addition, as a research by Diaz-Luque (2009, p, 173) indicated, “tradition media allows the transmission of information to large groups. Nevertheless, given the large size of the target audience, this leads inevitably to a communication problem”. Furthermore, tourism promotional campaigns in the traditional media regarded as enormous daily routine, which means “innovation on tourism promotion has become essential (Gustavo-da, Thyago, Soares & Elvas, 2011, p, 1). As a result, either organizations from public to private, or governments aim to invest on social media to promote tourism.
Compare with promotion in traditional media, social media might bring some obvious advantages. Based on previous research from Das (2009, p, 1) asserted that there are core elements of social media are low costs, increased number of connections and build credibility. Furthermore, Zhang (2011, p, 6) concluded, different types of social media have some common features, such as explosive transmission speed and immediate broadcast. It seems that depend on these features of social media, tourism organizations and governments might change their tourism promotional campaign from traditional media to social media. At present, the common phenomenon of tourism organizations is using blogs, microblogs, Facebook and YouTube as their promotional tools.
In terms of blogs and microblogs. According to Schmallegger and Carson (2008, p, 102) demonstrated, “Blogging as a way of promotion is often considered as a cheaper marketing activity than traditional advertising”. It seems that tourism blogs are a new channel to introduce places, tourism products and services to customers. Compare with tourism brochures, tourism blogs attract more attention from potential customers. Due to tourism organizations provide interesting content, and customer can share their travel experiences and post comments on the blogs, both tourism organizations and governments use this new way to promote products and place. For this reason, as an article by Diaz-Luque (2009, p, 177) indicated, “tourism marketers need to understand blog as a new technological phenomenon with implications for marketing and promotion”. In term of Twitter, which regarded as microblog, is one type of blogging (Nguyen & Wang, 2011, p, 22). Moreover they are concluded that Tweets, which has 140 words, allow users publish the information combine with video, photo and other media contents. Furthermore, Zouganeli, Trihas and Antonaki (2011, p, 112) pay more attention on the role of Twitter in promotion, it can be found that Twitter provides the chances for tourism organizations to interact with current or potential customers. In recent time, according to researchers provided by Nguyen and Wang (2011, p, 26) supported some countries, such as Sweden, use Twitter and Facebook as national tourism promotional tools.
In a few previous researches found that Facebook as a tourism promotional tool. Slivar (2009, p, 52) mentioned, depending on the primary aims of Facebook is socialization, Facebook can use as promotional way to directly effect on customers. In this article, using the example to analysis Facebook pages and groups whether can help tourist agencies to promote their products and services.
There is no doubt the fact that social media is changing the way of tourism promotion. Reino and Hay (2011, p, 2) pointed out that “using brochures to sell tourism products is rapid coming to an end, as the static visual image of a product, fixed in time, are no longer enough to excite potential tourists”. As a result, YouTube provides a real sense of where tourists want to visit. Through viewing videos share or upload by other tourists, potential customers can acquire the real sense of visual images. In addition, YouTube allow organizations to uploaded videos into their official account. As a result, YouTube, which is a new tourism promotional tool, attracted more attention from tourism organizations and governments. It clear that with rapid development of technologies, social media sites like blogs (micro blogs), Facebook and YouTube play an increasingly significant role in tourism promotion.
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