Customer engagement on social network sites has strong benefits for Destination Marketing Organizations and their potential visitors. User Generated Content is often shared through Facebook so friends can see it for their own entertainment or informational purposes (LeadShift, 2014). Also online Word of Mouth (EWOM), has become very popular, and is a key aspect in the awareness process of the customer’s journey. DMOs make use of omni-channels of social networks, where they promote a certain destination. However, by making use of these social network sites, DMOs should first ask themselves which target segments they want to focus on. Based on this information, DMOs can create customized posts which are adapted to the needs and wants of the target group. They can use a differentiation strategy to segment their market. When looking at online marketing of DMOs, it is essential to address all the target groups through different channels.
One pitfall within online marketing of DMOs is that they often fall short in customer (brand) engagement. DMOs share their value proposition, but there is not always interaction with the customer. A good example is the DMO of Sweden, Sweden.se, which has a social platform on Facebook where it posts interesting posts or links of articles about Sweden, its value proposition. It gives the reader a good idea about Sweden and what the country offers. The images are all integrated in their marketing strategy and illustrate Sweden’s authenticity and what it stands for. However, despite its very effective and strong marketing efforts, customer dialogue is lacking, as followers don’t have the ability to get in direct contact with the DMO. Moreover, all posts are posted by Sweden.se, rather than posts created by its own followers. Instead, DMOs should stimulate followers to share their own experiences, for example when experiences are still fresh in the mind of the follower, the moment right after returning from a holiday. It would be interesting for DMOs to ask followers or via friend-of-follower” connections on Social network sites to post their experience with the destination.
Involving visitors subsequently creates more customer engagement relationships. It refers to the Customer Knowledge Value, which means that followers can add value to the company by helping them understanding customer preferences, while also participating in the knowledge development process (Kumar et al., 2010). As followers post the pictures and visuals they prefer, they are trendsetters, who can persuade other followers to also buy these services or products (Kumar et al., 2010). Moreover, it would create narrative content, deducted from different perspectives, making the content more credible for other followers and more likely to generate buzz. Customer engagement could be reached by using co-creation and co-development, by using visitors’ own posts for new marketing material for the DMO to promote Sweden as a tourist destination. This creates E-WOM as followers share their own experiences, which makes visitors aware of all the value propositions of Sweden. It is the customer value which creates loyal followers, and ultimately more visitors to Sweden.
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Kumar, V., Aksoy, L., Donkers, B., Venkatesan, R., Wiesel, T., & Tillmanns, S. (2010). Undervalued or overvalued customers: capturing total customer engagement value. Journal of Service Research, 13(3), 297-310.
LeadShift. (August, 27, 2014). The three ways that DMOs should be using social media. Retrieved September 20, 2016, from http://leadsift.com/tourism-dmo-social-media/
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Sweden.se. (2002). Sweden.se. Retrieved September 20, 2016, from https://www.facebook.com/swedense/?fref=ts