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Research on Brand Communication of Tourist Destinations in the Era of Social Media

my country's tourism consumption continues to expand, and tourism has become an important way for people to relax and entertain. People's demand for tourism consumption is gradually diversified, and the autonomy of tourism destination selection has increased. Before traveling, most people search for information about travel destinations through the Internet and listen to suggestions from netizens who have already visited the destination. According to the "Research Report on China's Leisure Tourism Customer Demand Trends" jointly issued by China Tourism Academy and Ctrip.com, more than 40% of domestic tourists have used websites/BBS/forums to obtain travel information, while inbound and outbound tourists use online media. The proportion of are higher, reaching 60% and more than 50% respectively [1]. Therefore, the use of social media for publicity has become a general trend in building tourism brands.

1. The connotation of brand communication in tourism destinations

Brand communication theory was born in the United States in the 1950s. With fierce competition in the commodity market, companies began to focus on establishing their own brands to distinguish them from other products, increasing communication with consumers, and cultivating consumer loyalty. As the famous advertising master David Ogilvy said, "Brand is an intricate symbol, an intangible sum of brand attributes, name, packaging, price, history, reputation, and advertising style" [2]. The reference to "brand" is not only limited to commercial brands, but also includes social brands such as city brands, regional brands, college brands, group brands, and personal brands [3].

Nowadays, competition among tourist destinations is becoming more and more fierce. The marketing and promotion of tourism destinations not only rely on rich tourism resources, comprehensive tourism supporting services and friendly tourism service attitudes, but also pay attention to establishing a brand positioning that meets the psychological expectations of potential tourists and leave a good brand image in people's hearts. The brand communication of a tourist destination is the process of publicizing and promoting the brand image of a tourist destination through a series of brand element combinations, deepening and improving the impression of tourists on the place, and making the place stand out.

2. The status quo of brand communication in tourism destinations in the social media era

Driven by new technologies, media platforms have integrated and developed. Mobile devices have become the first terminal for audiences to surf the Internet. The use of social media such as Weibo, WeChat and BBS has become a necessary way for brand promotion in tourist destinations. Social media, also known as social media, is based on the original content of netizens (UGC), which greatly empowers netizens to express themselves. It changes the "one-to-one" communication mode to "many-to-many" communication and discussion, which is spontaneous and community-oriented. , Openness and other features, including a series of online media such as Weibo, WeChat, and BBS. Tourism-related departments in many places have gradually paid attention to the brand promotion role of social media, but there are still many problems that need to be improved.

1. Diversified communication subjects, making overall planning more difficult

Compared with traditional media, social media has more diverse communication subjects. Governments, industry associations, companies, and individuals have all participated in brand communication from destinations to tourism. As an integrator of multiple forces, the government has determined the positioning and communication theme of the tourism destination brand. As the facilitator of brand dissemination of tourist destinations, industry associations actively promote tourist destinations. Enterprises are the main participants in the brand communication activities of tourist destinations. While promoting themselves, they also spread the brand image of tourist destinations. Social media users are both audiences and participants. While receiving information, they publish their perceptions of the brand image of travel destinations, which affects the communication effect of travel destination brands. The diversification of social media communication subjects makes brand communication activities more complicated and requires stronger coordination capabilities.

2. The official promotion method is single and the communication effect is not obvious

Tourism bureaus in many places have gradually paid attention to the brand promotion role of social media platforms and opened official accounts on social media to promote tourist destinations. However, the effectiveness of communication still needs to be improved. There are mainly the following three problems. First, the published content is not very attractive. The content was mostly chicken soup for the soul and pictures of scenic spots, which failed to attract high attention; second, the degree of interaction was low. After the official account was registered, it did not manage it carefully, there were not many creative activities, and the amount of users' likes, comments, and reposts were few; third, the communication was not accurate enough. At present, the dissemination activities of tourism destination brands are basically for users of all platforms. Based on the survey of tourism destinations, information should be pushed to potential tourists who are interested in tourism destinations and have the ability to consume.

3. User-produced word-of-mouth information, with a high degree of trust

Social media is based on user-generated content (UGC-User Generated Content) and is highly spontaneous. The tourism-related topics on this platform are mostly word-of-mouth exchanges between tourists. Netizens with strong and weak relationships connect through social media, communicate on the perception of travel destinations on social platforms, and participate in the word-of-mouth communication of travel brands. "Strong ties" expand the word-of-mouth information of tourist destinations at the micro level, such as WeChat Moments and WeChat groups, where people are familiar with each other and are easily trusted by others. "Weak ties" refer to users who do not know each other and are interested in the same travel topic in social media, such as travel-related travel websites. "Weak ties" have no interests involved between users. Most of the information shared is a personal experience after playing, which is persuasive and credible. "Weak ties" make the word-of-mouth information of tourist destinations spread rapidly at the macro level.

4. Public opinion crisis events frequently occur, and brand reputation risks are high

Different from traditional media, social media is open. Users can keep track and communicate after the launch of brand communication activities in tourism destinations, so that the topics of interest can continue, greatly increasing the coverage and length of discussion of brand communication in tourism destinations, and the official response to the crisis If the incident is not timely or effective, it will cause serious damage to the brand image of tourism purpose. During the National Day in 2015, the Qingdao prawn incident caused intense discussions on social media, but the Qingdao merchants’ slaughtering of customers did not receive a timely response, which caused great damage to the “Hospitable Shandong” brand image that the province spent hundreds of millions of yuan to build. . Another example is that since the Spring Festival of 2017, the beating incident of female tourists in Lijiang and the improper remarks on the official Weibo of the Gucheng District have plunged into a crisis of negative online reputation. Tourism departments in many places have insufficient experience in responding to crises, and public opinion crises occur frequently. In the public opinion field dominated by social media, the risk of brand reputation of tourist destinations has greatly increased.

Third, the brand communication strategy of tourist destinations in the era of social media

Facing the new communication environment, government departments should take the initiative to use social media to cooperate with tourism-related industries to participate in the brand communication activities of tourism destinations, shorten the psychological distance with potential tourists, and enhance the influence of tourism destination brands.

1. Create a communication matrix and integrate marketing communication

Tourism destination brand communication must form a new talent team familiar with social media, coordinate all resources, and unite multiple social media platforms to create a brand communication matrix. Brand communication in tourism destinations should coordinate relevant units and combine the characteristics of different types of social media to make targeted selections and plan communication activities. At the same time, pay attention to unifying the brand image and integrating marketing communications. The concept of "integrated marketing communication" was put forward by Professor Don Schultz of Northwestern University and others, pointing out that all communication activities related to marketing by enterprises are unified to form a unified brand image [4]. Each tourist destination has its own brand positioning, such as "Splendid Xiaoxiang, Happy Hunan", "Mysterious Xiangxi", "Jiangxi has unique scenery" and so on. The dissemination of information on various social media platforms by tourist destinations is unified with the positioning of tourist destinations to ensure the integrity and consistency of the brand image of tourist destinations.

2. Crowdsourcing innovation, stimulating online democratic participation and active dissemination

Traditional travel destination brand communication activities tend to use events cleverly. Zhangjiajie used the unique scenic spot of Tianmen Mountain to plan many events, such as high-altitude tightrope walking and wing-mounted flying across Tianmen Mountain. Zhejiang Tiantai Mountain also used the "Wang Gongquan Elopement" incident to create a topic, saying that Zhejiang Tiantai Mountain has a beautiful environment and picturesque scenery, and it is an ideal "Elopement Holy Land" [5]. The brand communication of social media should innovate ways to stimulate the Internet to participate in active communication. "Crowdsourcing" is a method that can be used for reference. It was proposed by Jeff Howe, a reporter from Wired magazine in the United States. It refers to companies or organizations outsourcing tasks performed by employees to unspecified individuals in the form of their own resources. The practice of the public network [6]. There are many social media users, low barriers to entry, and strong interaction. Tourist destinations can use "crowdsourcing" to promote their brands on social media, such as exploring the best brand positioning of tourist destinations and creating tourist destination publicity Slogans and mascots, complete the brand promotion of tourist destinations in this process.

3. Collaborate with opinion leaders to enhance the effectiveness of communication

On social media platforms, information is no longer one-way from media to opinion leaders to audiences. Audiences can post information on their own, but opinion leaders with many fans’ attention, namely “social media celebrities” still have a strong influence . Social media users follow the opinion leaders on the Weibo platform, follow the opinion leaders' personal official accounts or circle of friends in WeChat, and extract valuable and interesting information by browsing the opinions published by the opinion leaders. In the face of a plethora of information, social media users filter out some uninterested topics by following opinion leaders; secondly, opinion leaders’ evaluations of tourist destinations are persuasive and easier to gain the trust of fans. They are generally authoritative in a certain industry, have their own unique views and opinions, and have strong logic in their rhetoric and are easy to accept. Tourism destination brand communication should contact social media opinion leaders who are influential and in line with the brand image of the destination to enhance the effect of brand communication of the destination.

4. Use big data to achieve precise communication

The famous advertising master John Wanamaker once said, "I know that half of my advertising expenses are wasted, but unfortunately, I don't know which half is wasted." Advertising is a common means of brand communication, and the effect of placing advertisements on mainstream media to increase attention is not very satisfactory. Advertisements are often not conveyed to potential travelers who have the time, funds and vision to travel, but are conveyed to audiences who have no travel intentions. When tourism destination-related units and companies conduct travel brand communication on social media, they can use big data to obtain basic information such as age, hometown, gender, and preferences of social media users, and at the same time capture and analyze the topics that users frequently participate in and the information released. , Target potential tourists in tourist destinations and carry out precise communication, so as to make full use of attention resources and reduce publicity costs.

5. Monitor the dynamics of public opinion and restore the brand image

Social media brings both opportunities and challenges to brand communication in tourist destinations. Due to the anonymity of the Internet, the negative emotions formed by the dissatisfaction accumulated during tourism will be doubled on the Internet. The opinions are continuously strengthened in the process of transmission, and the phenomenon of "group polarization" is prone to appear, which will affect the brand image of tourism destinations. Cause great damage. On the basis of improving the management level of their own tourist attractions, the authorities of tourist destinations should conduct public opinion monitoring by means of "manual + technology". In terms of manpower, the local tourism bureau sets up a public opinion monitoring "squad" to manually monitor the information disseminated in social media, screen out sensitive information related to travel destinations for analysis and judgment, and take appropriate measures to guide it. Technical means is a new trend of public opinion monitoring, which solves the problem of large workload and low efficiency of manual analysis. Use public opinion software to extract relevant network information of tourist destinations, such as originating website, forwarding volume, frequency of appearance, information text, etc., to have an intuitive understanding of the trend of public opinion dissemination. After monitoring the negative comments, the Tourism Bureau and related companies should actively respond, use social media to release information for the first time sincere dialogue, and cooperate with traditional media and authoritative institutions to disclose information, eliminate public doubts, and grasp the "time" and "effectiveness" of information release. ”And “degrees” to reduce the impact of negative comments on tourism destination brands.


[1] China Tourism Research Institute. Ctrip.com. China Leisure Tourism Customer Demand Trend Research [EB/OL].http://www.ctaweb.org/html/2012-4/2012-4-13-11-34 -48 207.html, 2012-04-13.

[2] Chen Hongbo. Regional Tourism Brand Image Communication Strategy[J]. News and Writing, 2015 (10).

[3] Shu Yongping. Brand Communication Theory [M]. Wuhan: Huazhong Science and Technology Press, 2010.

[4] Yu Mingyang, Zhu Jida, Xiao Junsong. Brand Communication[M]. Shanghai: Shanghai Jiaotong University Press, 2005.

[5] Li Hong. New media marketing, strategies, methods and cases of tourism destinations [M]. Beijing: Tourism Education Press, 2014.

[6] Yu Xiao. Analysis of Brand Communication Strategy in the Social Media Era[J]., 2011(4).

(Editor in charge: Shi Sijia (internship), Song Xinrui)

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