Social Media as a marketing tool. How can Hamburg Tourism GmbH use social media effectively in order to establish Hamburg as an attractive travel destination?


Bachelor Thesis, 2013
95 Pages, Grade: 1,0

Excerpt

Table of Contents

Declaration

Abstract

Acknowledgements

Glossary

List of tables

List of figures

Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Rationale and Background of the Topic
1.2 Aims and Objectives
1.3 Content outline

Chapter 2: Literature Review
2.1 Hamburg Tourismus
2.2 Social media
2.3 Social media channels
2.4 Social media in the international comparison
2.5 Current statistics of social media use in Germany
2.6 Social media in German enterprises
2.6.1 Areas of application in enterprises
2.7Social networks
2.7.1 Facebook
2.7.2 Facebook Statistics
2.7.3 Twitter
2.7.4 Google+
2.8 Social Media Marketing
2.9 Hamburg Tourismus and Social Media
2.10 Conclusion

Chapter 3: Methodology

Chapter 4: Research results
4.1 Answers to the Research Questions

Chapter 5: Conclusion
5.1 Discussion
5.2 Limitations of the Research
5.3 Contribution of the Research
5.4 Recommendations
5.5 Suggestions for Further Research

References

Appendices

Glossary

Dissertation

“How can Hamburg Tourism GmbH use social media effectively in order to establish Hamburg as an attractive travel destination and as one of the Top 10 European city destinations by 2015?”

Eike Hilko Ihmels

Stenden University Leeuwarden BBA Program Tourism Management Leeuwarden The Netherlands

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor Administration in Tourism Management

June, 2011

Abstract

Social media is increasingly gaining importance when it comes to destination marketing. The study analyzes how Hamburg Tourismus can use social media effectively in order to establish Hamburg as an attractive travel destination and as one of the Top 10 European city destinations by 2015. A detailed review of relevant literature provides an insight into the topic of social media and forms the basis for the subsequent primary research. In addition, the company Hamburg Tourismus GmbH is presented and gives the reader an understanding of the tasks and roles of the destination management company. The key part of the study is the conduction of a survey, the results of which were analyzed by applying the statistical program IBM PASW Statistics 21 (SPSS). Furthermore, the population surveyed is narrowed down to German social media users. The conduction of the survey leads to an evaluation of the social media performance of Hamburg Tourismus. The results reflect a valid picture of the current state of the perception of users concerning Hamburg Tourismus’ social media performance and show that there is still room for improvement regarding the social media channels. The results are discussed and suggestions for further research are made.

Acknowledgements

I would like to express my gratitude to all the people who have helped me in the completion of my dissertation. In particular, I thank my family and friends for their support, encouragement and trust during the write phase.

My special thanks, however, go to my supervisor Giso van Houte, who gave me help and advice at any time. Especially his assistance and feedback during the research and writing process were of great benefits.

Naturally, my thanks are also due all employees of Hamburg Tourismus for their involvement in this paper, singling out Thorsten Teschner, head of the department Internet & New media. Furthermore I would like to thank my parents for their patience and support.

Finally, this dissertation would not have been possible without the many people who participated in the survey. All participants in the survey also deserve special thanks.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

List of tables

Table 1 Rating of the quality of information 37

Table 2 Evaluation of the social network pages 38

List of figures

Figure 1 Frequency usage of the internet 29

Figure 2 Social Network Registrations 31

Figure 3 Reasons for the subscription of social network pages 34

Figures 4 Improvement Suggestions divided by Gender 39

Chapter 1: Introduction

The following chapter introduces the topic. In this context, the initial position as well as the aims and objectives of this dissertation are outlined. Based on this information the problem statement and research questions will be formulated as well as the methodology to solve this problem.

1.1 Rationale and Background of the Topic

Since 2003, the majority of the German population used the internet for communication, information, and conversation. The number of users has increased steadily since that time. Technological progress has resulted in new technologies, so called social media, which in turn affected a direct exchange between users and their social communication behavior.

Hence, interactive platforms are increasingly used for communication with friends or acquaintances and these are often already anchored as a communication tool in everyday life. According to a study of the German Federal Association Digitale Wirtschaft (2011) more than half of German internet users are actively using social networks (p. 4). In 2011, 29, 6 million people were using social networks.

Due to increasing importance of social media among the population, a growing number of companies are present in such networks. Social media offers companies the possibility to enter into a direct dialogue with their target group. Users can immediately react to messages from the company.

Currently, social media still falls under the umbrella of marketing activities, as the use of the online tools support the development and preservation of company brands and images. Due to the expected development in the field of search engine relevance and user behavior, one can expect a shift towards sales and distribution. In Hamburg, it is already believed that social media can help to develop products, and analyze markets due to its scope and its’ potential. According to the German social media expert Julia Behrens (2012), social media can be described as a sales tool, although an indirect one.

Petra Hedorfer (2012), chairwoman of the executive board of the German National Tourist Board, claims that “social media needs critical monitoring” (p.7). Such monitoring broadens the opportunities in direct-marketing, in campaign optimization and crisis management. This is especially true in destination marketing because social media channels open trend-setting ways to touristic products and suppliers; therefore, it cannot be denied that social media is of increasing importance for destination marketing.

According to Thorsten Teschner (2012), head of the department internet and new media at Hamburg Tourismus GmbH (HHT), Hamburg Tourismus uses social media channels to advertise touristic products and to market Hamburg as a travel destination. Aside from having its own Facebook Page, Hamburg Tourismus GmbH created its own Twitter page as well as a Google+ page, each of which are representative of Hamburg. Despite the rising importance of social media in destination marketing and the expected shift of social media towards sales and distribution, Hamburg Tourismus GmbH acts quite restrained in the field of social media.

The German social media expert Julia Behrens (2012) states that initial attempts to control the competencies for social media cross-departmentally have only partially been put into practice. Currently, information, announcements or products which are communicated via social media channels are selected randomly.

1.2 Aims and Objectives

As stated above, social media is becoming more and more important in destination marketing. There has been some research in this field; however, no studies relative to the true influence of social media in the marketing of Hamburg have been found. Therefore, the overall aim of this research is to identify how Hamburg can use social media in a way that will effectively market Hamburg as a travel destination or rather to motivate a potential tourist to visit the destination. The objectives of this study are to provide an analysis of social media as a marketing tool. This will lead to an overall conclusion with recommendations, which will detail how social media can be effectively used to promote Hamburg as a tourist destination, as well as being applicable to other destinations. The focus of this dissertation will be on the most distinguished social media channels: Facebook, Twitter and Google+. This research is not conducted by Hamburg Tourismus GmbH. However, the findings will be made available to the organization.

1.3 Content outline

This dissertation is divided into five chapters analyzing the effective use of social media of the destination Hamburg. The first chapter provides a background to the main topic and outlines the purpose of this study, as well as its aims and objectives. The second chapter deals with the different types of social media. Here, a detailed and critical analysis of the relevant literature is given. The methodology for the primary research of this study, as described in chapter three, deals with the complete research process including the planning, methods, used instruments, analysis techniques and an evaluation. In chapter four, the research results will be presented by an analysis of quantitative data that has been conducted during the research. Furthermore, this chapter entails descriptive and statistical analysis. The fifth and final chapter contains discussions and a conclusion of the findings. This includes the limitations and contributions of the research, recommendations and suggestions for further research.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

The purpose of this chapter is to critically analyze the relevant literature. It narrows down to the theories, facts and figures which are relevant for this literature review. The adjunct professor in the school of leisure, sport and tourism at the University of Technology in Sydney, Antony James Veal (2006), states in his book “ research methods for leisure and tourism: a practical guide” that primary research “is not so plentiful that we can afford to ignore research which has already been completed by others” (p.121). Accordingly, this chapter forms an important theoretical base for the following research. Several terms related to social media and destination marketing will be addressed throughout the next pages including definitions, social media tools and the relation between social media and destination marketing. Starting with a description of the company Hamburg Tourismus GmbH and a definition of social media, this section continues with the importance of social media and its relation to destination marketing.

2.1 Hamburg Tourismus

Hamburg Tourismus GmbH (HHT) is a service provider and is responsible for tourism marketing of the Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Further, the organization is a coordinator and central contact point for information, services and the provision of tourism products in Hamburg. In order to boost the city’s tourism, HHT’s declared goal is to ‘‘support national and international leisure and business travel tourism to Hamburg’’, which is guided by the mission statement “we bring life to the city.” For this purpose HHT contributes significantly to the city’s economic potential by “monitoring the attractiveness, diversity and quality of tourism products of Hamburg continuously’’. Above all, HHT aims at ’’raising the city’s national and international profile to make the city of Hamburg better known to the relevant tourism target groups.’’ The company’s vision is to establish Hamburg among the Top 10 European city destinations by the year 2015 through promoting it as a “young, international and modern city” (Hamburg Tourismus, 2007).

2.2 Social media

Often, the term “social media” is equated with Twitter of Facebook. In this respect, it is worth to have a look at the meaning of the term in order to understand what social media is actually about.

Bernecker and Beilharz (2012), experts for online and social media marketing, define social media as “offers on the Internet, which enable users to exchange ideas, to share contents and to create content themselves” (p.24). Accordingly, the term social media stands for the exchange of information, experiences and perceptions by means of community­websites and is increasingly gaining the confidence in our networked world as the expert for online marketing Tamar Weinberg explains in her book “Social Media Marketing” (2012). Examples for social media are blogs, Internet platforms, networks, image and video portals, user-generated websites, Wikis and Podcasts. Each of these tools simplifies the communication and connects like-minded people in the whole world.

According to the Wave 5 report, published in 2010 by Universal McCann, social media experiences a boom which will last for some time. For the entity of the Internet users between 16 and 54 years in the world, the following figures were calculated:

- Social networks such as Facebook record around 1,5 billion visits per day, 80 per cent of the Internet users visit profile pages of friends in social networks
- 64, 5% of the Internet users read blogs, in Germany there are 29, 6 %
- Nearly 35% of the Internet users use a microblogging service like Twitter
Social media offers are also becoming increasingly popular in Germany. The study ACTA, which consults yearly 9.000 Germans between 14 and 64 years old concerning their user behavior in the Internet, published in October 2010 the following results:
- 31% of the Internet users are member of a social network, among the 14-29 years olds there are even 62%
- 59% of the Internet users watch videos online, 6% upload videos
- 13% of the Internet user upload own pictures in the Internet

2.3 Social media channels

When examining the literature about social media, the well-known social media prism shall not be absent. In the figure, different social media services are clearly presented (see Appendix 1). All these platforms can have an effect on the reputation of your enterprise.
Amongst the most significant social media platforms and channels are:
- Facebook: the biggest social network worldwide with around 750 million users. It plays the most crucial role in social media marketing for enterprises.
- Youtube: the video portal belongs to the search engine giant Google and is regarded as the second largest search engine of the world. Daily, users watch more than 2 billion videos and upload more than 50.000 hours of video footage.
- Twitter: the micro blogging service is among the first great successes in the social web. Twitter thrives on the commitment of celebrities such as Barack Obama, Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber, whose follower numbers are in the range of 10 million. For enterprises, Twitter offers interesting opportunities.
- Google+: The development of Google+, the social network of Google, is still unclear. The potential seems to be almost endless, if Google succeeds to combine all own services such as Search, YouTube, AdWords, News, Picasa, Chrome, Chrome OS, Docs, Blogger, Analytics, Checkout and many more into one social network.
- Wikipedia: the world’s largest encyclopedia entails more than 19 million articles in more than 260 languages, which completely written by users. Wikipedia is regarded as an exemplary case - an encyclopedia, on which everyone can write and which still is of high quality compared to traditional editions.
- WordPress: Wordpress is one of the biggest blogging platforms in the world. Users can either set up a blog at the webspace of WordPress or download the software for free and install it on their own server.
- FlickR: FlickR belongs to the category of “content sharing platforms”, applications, which enable users to upload and share content. Due to the enormous spread of social networks, it remains to be seen how the future of services such as FlickR will look like.
Aside these industry giants, many more services exist as it can be seen in the prism. Partially, there are services with millions of users, but also services small services with niche offers and a few hundred participants. Generally, the services can be classified into:
- Blogs ( such as Blogspot.com, WordPress.com, WordPress.org)
- Wikis (such as Wikipedia.org)
- Social networks (for example Facebook.com)
- Platforms & Usegroups
- Location based services ( for instance, Gowalla.com, Foursquare.com)
- Content sharing platforms ( for example YouTube.com, FlickR.com, Slideshare.net)

Furthermore, there are mixed forms. Twitter as a micro blogging service presents such a mixed form of blog and social network.

2.4 Social media in the international comparison

Especially for international marketing strategies, social media offers appropriate instruments. However, one needs to consider country-specific aspects. Therefore, the question concerning the right choice of platforms is quite important in the field of international social media strategies. Although Facebook is dominating the world with its approximately 1 billion members, however, it is not the number one in all countries. The German business consultant Claudia Hilker (2012) states that “in China, QZone is the leader with around 500 million users. In contrast, Orkut is favoured in Brazil and the network VKontake is dominating in Russia.

According to the study “Wave 5” by the research firm Universal McCann, 37, 8% of the respondents in Germany managed a social media profile in the last half-year. In India, it was 72, 5% and in Russia even 79, 3%. Germans have 41 contacts on average in social media,

Italians 66 and Brazilians 74. In Germany, 29, 6%of the respondents read blogs. In France, it is 46, 7 and in China even 79, 6%.

2.5 Current statistics of social media use in Germany

The online study of the German TV channels ARD and ZDF in 2012, which surveyed 1800 adults in Germany, found that 76% of the Germans are online. The internet penetration reached a new record: the 50-million-mark was broken with 53, 4 million users. Thereby, the number of internet users has nearly tripled in the last 12 years (2000: 18, 4 million users). The increase goes particularly back to people over 60 years old: meanwhile 39, 2% of the people over 60 years old are online. Furthermore the numbers of male and female users are approaching each other: 68, 5% of the women (+8%) and 78, 3% of men (+4%) use the World Wide Web. The use of social networks becomes ever more popular. Already 43% of the German internet users have created an own profile in a social community, in which every third person is exchanging and communicating about television content.

The mobile use increased significantly as well and tripled in the last three years (2009: 11%; 2012: 23 %). Currently, 23% of the internet users are online through mobiles. 17% of the German users use apps on smart phones or tablet computers (ARD/ ZDF - Onlinestudie, 2012).

Facebook has by far the most users: over 50% of the German-speaking internet users visit the network according to a study by the internet research and consulting service W3B in 2012. This is followed by Xing on the second place with 25% and wer-kennt-wen.de on the third place with around 20%.

The study from the high tech association BITKOM 12/2011 “Soziale Netzwerke in Deutschland”, which surveyed 1000 German speaking internet users aged 14 and above, came to similar results. Accordingly, 74% of the internet users are at least registered in a social network; 66% are active users. Younger users under 30 years old lead the membership in social networks with 92% and their active use with 85%. Among the 30 to 49 years old people, less than three quarters are registered in the networks and active. For the 50 years old people, only every second is registered in a social network up to now.

2.6 Social media in German enterprises

According to the study “Social Media in Unternehmen” in 2012 from Bundesverband Digital Wirtschaft (BVDW), which surveyed 185 enterprises, 80,1% of the German enterprises have an own profile in social networks, 61, 8% user Twitter for communication. Only 40, 4% operate an own YouTube channel and 38, 2% keep an own Corporate Blog. Further, 72, 3% of the enterprises use social media activities and 28, 7% of the 185 surveyed enterprises offer apps. Rise of awareness, improvement of the image and the development of new target groups were mentioned as primary objectives when using social media (BVDW, 2012).

German enterprises open up for social media use. The majority places emphasis on strategic measures and has achieved success. More than three quarters of all surveyed enterprises (77, 7%) expect that the budgets for social media will increase. 61, 2%expect a moderate increase, 15, 9% an enormous increase. Only 19% calculate with same budgets and only 3, 3% calculate with decreasing funds. Hilker (2012) reveals that “social media is indispensable for the daily business and especially in the brand communication, but also for the innovative positioning with regard to the desired target groups” (p.28).”

2.6.1 Areas of application in enterprises

Social media is applicable in several business units. For instance, it can be used as a sales platform, for market-research purposes or personal recruitment (Hilker, 2012). Frequently, social media platforms are used for promotional, marketing or PR activities. In the study “ Social Media in deutschen Unternehmen” by the German high-tech association BITKOM (2012), 60% of the companies surveyed indicated that they use social media for PR activities, while over 70% use the platforms in the fields of advertisement and marketing. This shows that social media is primarily used as communication channel. The use for the purposes of sales, market research and product development is still not very widespread.

2.7 Social networks

After having examined the term social media, this chapter provides further information about a sub-part of social media - social networks. The attractiveness of social networks for companies lies in the opportunity to reach a multitude of people where they spend most of their internet time. Internet users in Germany spend almost one-third (23%) of their entire online time in social networks (BITKOM, 2012).

Aside Twitter, Facebook and Google+, there are numerous social networks in the Internet. Only a few of them are relevant for the broad majority. Either they lack coverage or the target group is too small. The following paragraphs deal with the most relevant social networks for destination marketing; Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

2.7.1 Facebook

Facebook is the world’s leading social network founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg. Originally, Facebook was only available to students at Zuckerberg’s home university Havard and shortly afterwards at Standford, Columbia and Yale. According to the

German developers for social media marketing strategies Felix and Klaus Holzapfel (2012) in only three years, the number of users increased to 10 million users. Another milestone took place in May 2007 when the company opened its platform for external developers, which can develop so-called applications. Since that time the offer is steadily growing - users can choose from several thousand applications for free - games, photo management, programs for matching musical, movie and reading preferences. At the end of 2007, the number of members exceeded the fifty million mark. Shortly thereafter, the first translated version of Facebook was introduced in January 2008. From now on Facebook was also available in Spanish. A few months later, in March, Facebook was offered in German language as well. The number of German members thereupon doubled to 1, 2 million members. On August 2008, Facebook cracked the 100- million-user mark. Facebook thereby laid ahead of Myspace concerning the growth.

According to own statements Facebook cracked the 600-million-active member worldwide mark in January 2011. At the end of February the number of active members was more than 640 million active members (Holzapfel & Holzapfel, 2012).

The German social media expert Julia Behrens (2012) emphasizes “the majority of interaction possibilities for exchange among the users which Facebook offers” (p.45). Multimedia content such as movies and images can also be shared with others. Enterprises can advertise via integrated adverts in the website. Here, a certain target group can be selected. For organizations, associations, bands, famous personalities, brands, destinations and many more, Facebook offers official pages (fan pages). Similar to a private user profile, such a page can be created for free in order to get in contact and interact with private persons (fans) within the network. Several administrators can be created for such a fan page provided

that the required administrator has a private account. As with private users networking is also possible at official pages: the private user can network with fan pages via a “like button”.

An advantage in the field of social media marketing can be the degree of brand awareness. In the view of the German author Claudia Hilker (2010) “Facebook is perhaps the most well-known social media application in the world” (p. 91). It is the perfect tool for starting marketing activities. In conclusion, social media marketing cannot avoid Facebook. When Facebook is applied correctly, it can emerge as an essential, fast-reacting tool in the marketing-mix of every enterprise (Hilker, 2010).

2.7.2 Facebook Statistics

Currently, Facebook has more than 650 million users worldwide. The country with the largest number of users is the United States of America, followed by India and Brazil. The social network service is accessed in 213 countries and the number of users is steadily increasing (Socialbrakers, 2012).

As the aim of this report is to investigate the German market, a closer look will be taken at current statistics of Germany. In comparison to other countries, Facebook is positioned at place 10 of all Facebook statistics per country with a total number of 25 million Facebook users (see Appendix 3). Furthermore, Germany registered a growth since the number of Facebook users in Germany grew up by 597 540 in the last 6 months (Socialbrakers, 2012). In the view of the German Facebook expert Philipp Roth (2013), the largest group of users is between 18 and 34 years old, even when the number of elderly people was growing in the last months.

2.7.3 Twitter

Twitter is free microblogging service founded in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone and Evan Williams. Originally, it was used as research project for the company Odeo. In 2006, Twitter became then a product of the company Obvious and later on it was spun off as Twitter Inc. At its heart are 140-character bursts of information called tweets (Twitter, 2012).

According to Behrens (2012), “Twitter is a communication medium, which enables to send short messages with a maximum of 140 letters to other Twitter users “(p.44). Every user with an account is able to send messages to his followers. More precisely, other users, which have subscribed these short messages, can see them in their own stream. This stream appears at the personal homepage. Furthermore there is the possibility to contact a certain user personally.

Nowadays, Twitter is booming. In their book “Der Twitter Faktor”, the management consultants specialized for the utilization of Twitter, Berns and Henningsen (2010), reveal that the service has more than 200 million registered users worldwide, of which 100 million users log in once a month and 50 million users log in every day. In May 2009, 78.000 people have supposedly only “twittered” in German language. However, this was 25% more than in the previous month. The information service Nielsen found out that in June 2009 1, 8 million visitors, which had been on Twitter at least once a month, were at twitter.com. According to another statistic of the webpage webevangelisten.de, about 180.000 German speaking accounts were registered on Twitter in June 2009. However, this number also includes silent Twitter users, who just read and do not actively post something (Berns & Henningsen, 2010).

Claudia Hilker (2010), management consultant and leader of Hilker Consulting, states that “according to a study, the average age of the 2 Million German Twitter users is 32 years old” (p. 38). Further, she considers it an advantage that Twitter is quite easy to use and with some expertise one can quickly gain followers, which redistribute the own tweets. On the whole, it can be said that Twitter is a clearly structured microblogging service, which can achieve a rapid growth.

In Germany, Twitter is still leading a niche existence. Currently, there are around 825.000 Twitter accounts, which “tweet” actively in German language. Compared to the previous year, this is more than 5% when 550.000 have been measured. However, there is still room for improvement compared to the reach of other social networks (Socialbrakers, 2012).

2.7.4 Google+

Google+ is a social network of the Internet service provider Google Inc. Google+ is seen as an attempt to become established in the field of social media. It directly competes with Facebook. Since June 2011, the website can be reached. 88 days after the publication,

Google+ had already 40 million registered users. Thus, it was the fastest growing social network in the history. For comparison, Facebook reached the same number of users after 1325 days. In March 2012, Google+ exceeded the 100 million mark of regular users. In April 2012, the appearance was revised. At that time, 170 million users were registered. In June 2012, the number of registered users even increased to 250 million, of which 75 million were active users and those active users spend over 60 minutes per day on google (see Appendix 6). At the end of the year 2012, 500 million users were registered. Similar to Facebook and Twitter, Google+ offers its service to private persons as well as firms, institutions, associations and non-natural persons such as families. For private persons, Google+ profiles exist, whereas, Google+ pages are intended for non-natural persons. Both representations have similar functions. In comparison to other social networks, users can classify their friends into circles and share specific information within these circles. Another function is Google-

Hangouts. In this conversation tool, users can invite up to 10 friends and have a conversation via video chat. The authors Grabs & Simon (2012) consider Google+ as a good competitor of Facebook. The chances that the one or the other social network exists are quite low. Enterprises need to consider whether this social network fits into their social media strategy. However, one needs to take into account that the power of Google in Germany is great concerning their share in the search market. Therefore, it might also make sense to publish content on Google+ (Grabs & Simon, 2012).

2.8 Social Media Marketing

According to the expert for internet marketing Tamar Weinberg (2012), “social media marketing is a process, which enables people to market products or services for their websites in social networks and to address a broader community, which could not have been reached via traditional marketing channels (p. 4).” Due to this, professor and expert for social media Gerald Lembke (2011) describes social media marketing as medial marketing which refers to communities. Naturally, social media marketing means more than social media. It deals with the systematic integration of digital media products in the value-added chain of enterprises (Lembke, 2011). More specifically, the task of social media marketing experts is to use these communities effectively in order to communicate with their participants on relevant products or service offers. Further the key point of social media marketing is to listen to the community and to respond in an appropriate way (Weinberg, 2012).

2.9 Hamburg Tourismus and Social Media

Like other destination management organizations Hamburg Tourismus could not hide from the trend social media. Due to the growing importance of social media in destination marketing the company started to use social media platforms such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter in order to communicate touristic products to its target groups.

Thorsten Teschner, head of the department Internet & New Media at Hamburg Tourismus, revealed in an interview conducted at the ITB in Berlin in 2010 the importance of social media channels for travel destinations:

“Social media is a hype issue at the moment. In the past, we have very much kept in the background, in order to observe how this phenomenon is developing. In the meantime, there is no way around social media, one just has to look at the user number of Facebook (...) and 60 per cent of the German online users are active in a social network. Those are numbers that have to be considered and that will change the role of the destination portal in the long term, shifting from the content provider to the content aggregator. The content that has previously been provided by the destination management organizations does already exist, it is user-generated, and it does not need to be developed any more. The task is rather to aggregate the respective contents out of social networks to make them findable for the user. In this respect, social media is a very important issue for us, especially for the future, and we are getting involved step by step. (...) We do not just want to say ‘we are now on Facebook, too, or we are also twittering now’, which we have actually done for quite a while, and with a rather relevant number of followers. Instead, we want to do things that generate an added value for the customer because that is what really matters in the end’’ (Teschner, 2010).

In the view of Hamburg Tourismus, social media still rather belongs to marketing activities by supporting the development and preservation of a brand and image. Due to the expected development in the field of search engine relevance and user behavior one can expect a shifting towards sales and distribution. In Hamburg, it believes that social media can help

already now to develop products and analyze markets due to its scope and the given potential. Therefore social media is already, although an indirect, sales tool (Behrens, 2012).

In 2009, the need for action in social media was detected by the department Internet & New media and first measures were triggered. As activities were expanded in 2010, one attempted to distribute the competencies for social media cross-departmentally and to achieve an active participation of other relevant departments. As important content providers the product management and the press department should have been included. Unfortunately, this could have only partially been put into practice. According to Behrens (2012), “a central and constantly updated database, in which the several departments update content independently, would have been thinkable “(p.41). For instance, an excel sheet, which is available on an active drive. Still, the main effort lies in the Internet & New media department.

In the case of Hamburg Tourismus, it took about one year from the initiation to the implementation of the social media use. Instead of starting indiscriminately, it was first illuminated what is feasible and reasonable, what added value might the user have and whether the additional effort is manageable.

Showing a permanent and lasting presence in social media is seen as important in Hamburg in order to address the young target group in the best possible way. For this reason, the communication strategy includes the supervision of all activities in the web 2.0. Another marketing tool, which was awarded in 2011 with the “German Tourism Award”, is the portal mein-hamburg.de. In the medium term, Hamburg Tourismus will deal with a separate social media strategy for this tool, especially from the point of view that the web landscape is very fast-moving. For instance, Google+ as another player is currently breaking into the market (Behrens, 2012).

Currently, Hamburg Tourismus does not use social media for the distribution of own services. Since 2009 it is an integral part and towards the end of the year Hamburg Tourismus became active with its own twitter account @mein_hamburg. In spring 2010, a Facebook fanpage was added. Since that time, several videos were also uploaded on YouTube.

However, the own channel is not actively supervised (Behrens, 2012).

Compared to other, much smaller destinations concerning the number of visitors and overnight stays, the tourism directors from Hamburg, however, face a huge competitor on Facebook. The city portal hamburg.de built up much earlier a fanpage and has now more supporters than the fanpage of HHT has. Here as well editorial content is posted; however, this is meeting a stronger response due to that fact that the viral effect is higher when having a higher number of users. Nevertheless, the underlying purpose plays also a major role. It is questionable, however, whether Hamburg Tourismus will succeed in monetizing the potential. A more focused target group can be built up by posting targeted touristic news. Whether the future will play for itself in such a way that the user recognizes a clear orientation and address in the meaningful messages remains to be seen (Behrens, 2012).

The major issues at Facebook and Twitter are several themes, but in the majority of cases information on events or touristic highlights. Only in rare cases, these are pure offers. The support effort has meanwhile increased to fife man-days per month. In the middle of the year 2011, round about 10.000 users were reached via social media platforms including fans on Facebook, followers on Twitter, visitors at the web 2.0 platform www.mein-hamburg.de as well as viral spinoff effects (Behrens, 2012).

2.10 Conclusion

After having reviewed the literature, it can be said that social media is a very complex and extensive subject. The destination management organization Hamburg Tourismus started to use social media in order to communicate current touristic products to its target groups. Despite the fact that Hamburg Tourismus already uses social media as indirect sales tool, the company still needs to discover this fast-growing issue for itself.

Concerning the topics social media and the related social media channels, it has been identified that the influence of social networks on the buying behavior of potential tourists should not be underestimated, since a multitude of people can be reached. Among the most important social networks are Facebook, Twitter and Google+, which record a rapid increase in the number of users.

Chapter 3: Methodology

Choosing the adequate methodology for the research as well as applying it correctly plays a crucial role for the subsequent quality of the entire outcome. This chapter aims at outlining and justifying the methodology chosen for the empirical research part of this dissertation. The first part sets out the research questions and the second part deals with the sampling strategy. Thereafter, the research design is outlined and in the last subsection the research methods are described.

As the most important and essential question to be answered throughout this research, the following problem statement has been formulated:

How can Hamburg Tourismus GmbH use social media effectively in order to establish Hamburg as an attractive travel destination and as one of the Top 10 European city destinations by 2015?

The objective is to find a defendable solution to this problem statement by the end of this study. When undertaking research, one of the first methodological steps the investigator has to take is to set up research questions. In order to focus the research, research questions will help to provide a path through the research and writing process (Writing Center, 2012). For this purpose, the following research questions have been formulated:

1. What is social media?

This question is necessary to introduce the topic and to endow the reader with background information. Due to the fact that the field of social media is quite broad, this research question will help to determine precisely the term social media. Furthermore this question gives detailed knowledge about the field where research is going to be done and is necessary to introduce the topic as well as to provide the reader with background information that is essential to understand the complexity of research.

Since this research questions asks for primary data or rather a definition, an answer will be found by conducting literature research about the organization. Information or rather definitions about social media can be found in books such as “Follow me” by Anne Grabs and Karim-Patrick Bannour, “Social Media im Destinationsmarketing” by Julia Behrens, “Social Media Marketing - Strategien für Twitter, Facebook & Co” by Tamar Weinberg.

2. What kind of company is Hamburg Tourismus GmbH?

As I deal in this dissertation with the company Hamburg Tourismus (HHT), it is indispensable to define the tasks and the role of Hamburg Tourismus. This research question will give an insight into the work and corporate structure of the company HHT (Hamburg Tourismus, 2007). Having answered this question will make it much easier to analyze and evaluate the company’s utilization of social media.

Here, secondary and primary research will be applied. Firstly, the literature review will help to understand what kind of company Hamburg Tourismus is and what kind of tasks it is dealing with. Secondly, an interview will be conducted with Thorsten Teschner, head of the department Internet & New media at Hamburg Tourismus GmbH. It is expected that Mr. Teschner as internal person will give detailed information about the tasks of Hamburg Tourismus. In addition, Kathrin Kuhn, staff member and project manager in the department Internet & New media will be interviewed. Both are experts in the field of social media.

3. In what way does Hamburg Tourismus use social media and for what purpose?

Since the problem statement deals with Hamburg Tourismus as a case example, it is quite important to analyze the way how Hamburg Tourismus uses social media and for what purpose social media is used. After having defined the tasks and role of Hamburg Tourismus in the first research question, it is recommended to take a closer look at the relation between Hamburg Tourismus and social media. This question will form a base for the later research questions and presents the current state of affairs.

Since this research question deals with the role of social media in the company Hamburg Tourismus, it is indispensable to apply secondary research. In particular, an interview with Thorsten Teschner, head of the department Internet & New media at Hamburg Tourismus, will indicate how Hamburg Tourismus uses its social media channels. Teschner is leading the department Internet and new media and is therefore involved in the daily business with internet and social media. Furthermore, another interview will be conducted with Kathrin Kuhn, staff member of the department Internet & New media and project manager. Additional information will be gathered through the literature review. For instance, Julia Behrens describes in her book “Social Media im Destinationsmarketing”, published in 2012, how Hamburg Tourismus makes use of social media.

4. What kind of target groups does Hamburg Tourismus attract with its social media presence and how do these target groups evaluate the quality of information about the destination Hamburg?

This research question primarily asks for the target groups Hamburg Tourismus attracts with its social media presence in order to analyze in the second part how do the target groups perceive the quality and level of information about the destination Hamburg. In other words, this research question helps to analyze whether the information Hamburg Tourismus communicates via its social media channels is sensible and well selected. In case that the target groups perceive the quality of information about Hamburg as a tourism destination as insufficient, this research question helps to question the current way of using social media and to give recommendations.

Here, primary and secondary research will be conducted. First, the literature review will help to find out about the target groups of Hamburg Tourismus in social media. In this context, the book “Social Media im Destinationsmarketing” by Julia Behrens will play a crucial role due to the fact that she explains social media activities based on the case of Hamburg Tourismus. In addition, an interview will be conducted with Thorsten Teschner, head of the department Internet & New media at Hamburg Tourismus. Since he is in the position of leading the internet department of Hamburg Tourismus, it is expected that he will deliever information about the target groups of Hamburg Tourismus and how Hamburg Tourismus is trying to attract them via its social media presence. Thereafter, an online questionnaire will be handed to at least 483 respondents. The calculation of the number of respondents results from the fact that the population of this research comprises all German Facebook users (25, 3 million), Google+ users (4, 2 million) and Twitter users (825.000), which implies a number of approximately 30 million people. Veal (2006) states that “the sample size tailored to such a high population and a desired confidence level of ± 5 per cent is set at 384” (p. 284). In order to check this assumed number, a Sample Size Calculator was used. Such a Sample Size Calculator can be used in order to calculate the right sample size for the research undertaken. Again, the outcome was that 384 respondents are needed to ensure a representative study. Therefore, the sample size of this research will be 384.

In this case, an online questionnaire is distributed to a population which is using Facebook, Google+ or Twitter. This online survey runs from April 1st to April 30th 2013 and works fully electronically, meaning that the respondents click on the survey link and fill in the questionnaire online. After the questionnaire is filled in, the data is transmitted directly into the spreadsheet. The desired target groups are active internet and online social network users, who are using at least one of the three social networks (Facebook, Google+ or Twitter), in which Hamburg Tourismus is actively promoting Hamburg as a travel destination. Due to the fact that the desired target groups are active internet users, the probability is quite high that a sample size can be generated. The German research assistant Florian Keusch (2011) states that “compared with other research methods, an online questionnaire has furthermore several advantages” (p.16). Firstly, the time span needed to complete an online questionnaire is much shorter than that of traditional research methods. Due to the fact that the information is gathered directly and automatically, this research method is regarded as useful for this dissertation. After having filled in the questionnaire, the results are ready to be analyzed at any time. Therefore, a decisive reason for using an online questionnaire in this dissertation was the fact that the data can be quickly presented in graphs or tables. Secondly, using an online questionnaire is comparable cheap. Aside from the low cost factor, the margin of error is smaller compared to other research tools. The participants enter their response directly into the system, which makes it more accurate. Furthermore, participants prefer to answer surveys online instead of filling in questionnaires on paper or using the telephone. Filling in a questionnaire online has the advantage that the respondents neither have to state their names nor are seen by others when participating in the survey (Keusch, 2011).

However, one might face problems when conducting questionnaires online. Several target groups are difficult or even impossible to reach in the internet. In addition, the response rate varies strongly. The adjunct professor in the school of leisure, sport and tourism at the University of Technology in Sydney, Antony James Veal (2006) indicates in his book ‘research methods for leisure and tourism ’ that “some online questionnaires have a higher response rate, whereas others only have a low response rate, which may have a negative impact on the later outcome” (p. 244). In order to prevent this, the link of the questionnaire will be sent to a large number of people and will be posted in different social networks. The link to the questionnaire will be posted on several pages in Facebook and Google+, such as “Mein Hamburg”, “I love Hamburg”, “Hamburg - Meine Stadt” and “Hamburg City”. Furthermore, the link to the questionnaire will be also posted on other pages related to the research topic. In case the survey responses are quite low, the survey could also be shared with German students via the Stenden Mail System.

In this questionnaire, the respondents are asked to evaluate the quality of information Hamburg Tourismus delivers in its social media channels. In case that they rate the quality as being poor, the respondents have the option to give recommendations and select what kind of information is missing. Later, the data from the questionnaire can be analyzed and conclusions can be drawn. That is why this research question forms an important base for the later outcome of this study. It can be outlined how to reach Hamburg tourists over social media channels. As social networks offer many different features, the purpose of this research question is also to find out which of these features are the most relevant for target group. As part of the primary research, the online questionnaire designed for this research also entails questions aiming to figure out which features people use most frequently.

5. How is the travel behavior of tourists affected by social media?

This research questions helps to find out to what extent social media affects the travel behavior of tourists. The goal is to find out whether social media can motivate a person to travel to Hamburg.

In order to find out about the influence social media has on the travel behavior of tourists, primary research will be conducted. An online questionnaire entailing specific questions about this topic will be published on an online survey platform. Then, at least 483 respondents will be asked to fill out the online questionnaire. The calculation of the number of respondents results from a sample size calculator. Afterwards, the data can be analyzed and graphs and figures will be created. Therefore, measurable and clear results are expected. In order to increase the quality of the results and to achieve meaningful results, secondary research will be also conducted while using research studies and info graphics from market research firms such as Lab42.

Chapter 4: Research results

In the following chapter, the research results of the dissertation as well as the analysis of the findings will be outlined. The findings are based on the literature reviewed for this study, interviews with experts in the field of social media, and on the 389 returned questionnaires. The collected data from the online questionnaires is displayed with the help of the software Statistical Package of the Social Sciences (SPSS) which is developed for survey analysis. Each research question will be dealt with throughout the chapter.

In order to present the research results, descriptive research will be used. According to Veal (2006), descriptive research describes the data and characteristics of the population being surveyed. More precisely, the gathered information is clearly presented as frequencies and means. The type of the illustration depends essentially on the variables and on the measurement level. Thus, the frequencies of the answers are determined and cross tabulations are created. Cross tabulations are heavily used in survey research in order to investigate how different items interrelate. If such graphs are created, it can be seen where two or more variables directly relate to or affect one another. In addition to that, the means are calculated so that the given answers can be measured in terms of a scale, this way, the averages can be easily compared. Such a table resembles a frequency table of the nominal, or rather seldom, variable with a descriptive table (of the scale variable). In some cases, it was necessary to test whether the two variables are not related on the basis of the data found in the sample. If there is no relationship, the independent variable has no influence on the dependent variable. Thus, the groups of the independent variable (e.g. males/females) do not differ concerning the dependent variable. For this purpose, several tests such as the chi-square test can be used in order to survey the relation between the variables. Against this backdrop, a statistical significance is calculated, which reveals whether the difference between the variables is significant or not. When the significance is bigger than 0.05, then there is no significant difference between the groups. Conversely, both variables are related when the significance is smaller than 0.05.

In order to display the research results in a comprehensive manner, the structure of the questionnaire will be adopted.

The first three questions of the questionnaire deal with the respondents’ profile. Of the 389 persons questioned, 48% are male and 52% are female. In regards to the age group of the respondents, the age group of 18 to 25 is the majority group with 44.2%. This is followed by the age group of 26 to 35 years which totals 33. 7%. The age group of 46 to 55 years measures at 10%, the age group under 18 years is 6. 9%, the age group of 56 to 66 years is 2. 8% and finally the age group of 66 years and older which is 2.3%. The third question asks for the professional activity of the respondents. In summary, it can be said that most of the respondents are employees (41.6%), followed by pupils, students and trainees (40.9%) and pensioners and self-employed persons (each 5.7%). To ensure that the respondents cover the defined population, the internet use needed to be investigated. More than three-quarter of the respondents use the internet daily (91%) and 4.6% use the internet once a week (Fig. 1). Therefore, it can be assumed that the later outcome will have validity. Another question, which asks for the purpose of using the internet, underlines this fact. Accordingly, 58.6 % of the sample used the internet for informational purposes. In contrast, the other groups used the internet in order to interact with other people (29%) or for business purposes (8%).

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Research was also performed on the groups’ memberships in social networks. The outcome is comparable to the internet usage: 94.1% are registered in a social network, of which three quarters are registered with Facebook (68.6 %) (Fig. 2).

This result shows that the people questioned cover the defined population. The clear majority of the respondents uses the internet regularly, and is additionally registered on a social network. These facts confirm the findings gathered through the literature review, according to which 76% of the Germans use the internet on a regularly basis and 74 per cent are at least registered in a social network (BITKOM, 2011).

4.1 Answers to the Research Questions

- What is social media?

The literature review gives insight about the definition of social media. Taking these sources into consideration, social media can be defined as 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 content (Kaplan & Haenlein, cited in Behrens, 2010). The Web 2.0 or also the social web sets the conditions for social processes in the network. Therefore, social media are those compiled from digital media and applications, which are used for exchanging user generated content. These include images, videos, texts and language (voice over IP such as Skype) in various forms. This kind of social exchange is increasingly gaining importance (Weinberg, 2012). The numbers of users of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or YouTube reached dizzy heights -one billion people will be registered with Facebook soon. Google+ succeeded in the first weeks of the test phase to gather 20 million users together, even though the admission was by invitation only (Bernecker & Beilharz, 2012).

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

- What kind of company is Hamburg Tourismus GmbH?

In the literature review, information is found about the field of responsibility of Hamburg Tourismus. Accordingly, Hamburg Tourismus is a service provider and is responsible for tourism marketing of the Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Kathrin Kuhn, staff member and project manager in the department Internet & New media, sees the tourism marketing of Hamburg in Germany and abroad as the main task of Hamburg Tourismus (personal communication, April 19, 2013). According to her, the HHT is a coordinator and the central contact point for information, services and the provision of tourism products in Hamburg. Thorsten Teschner, head of the department Internet & New media, explains further that “by distributing products, Hamburg Tourismus supports the supply-oriented tourism marketing and offers as a Hamburg specialist with a high level of quality the partners a common platform for the marketing of the touristic offers (personal communication, April 19, 2013).”

[...]

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Details

Title
Social Media as a marketing tool. How can Hamburg Tourism GmbH use social media effectively in order to establish Hamburg as an attractive travel destination?
College
Stenden University
Grade
1,0
Author
Year
2013
Pages
95
Catalog Number
V381318
ISBN (eBook)
9783668593091
ISBN (Book)
9783668593107
File size
1600 KB
Language
English
Tags
Tourismus, Tourismusmanagement, Social media, Social media marketing, facebook, google+, twitter, social networks, hamburg, marketing
Quote paper
Eike Ihmels (Author), 2013, Social Media as a marketing tool. How can Hamburg Tourism GmbH use social media effectively in order to establish Hamburg as an attractive travel destination?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/381318

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