The Interplay Role of Destination Area Hashtags to Enhance Small Destination Pictures’ Engagement on Instagram
Posted: 26 Jan 2022 Last revised: 7 Sep 2022
Date Written: January 26, 2022
Purpose: Hashtags are important in enriching the content of posts and in obtaining more engagement (Messina, 2007). This study aims at analysing the impact of the combination of the small destination name hashtags with hashtags mentioning the wider destination area by answering at the following research questions: (RQ1) What are the territorial hashtags used in the small destinations’ pictures capture? (RQ2) Do the mentions of the wider area through territorial hashtags impact on small destination post’s engagement?
Methods: Based on hashtags’ destination names, a sample of 13,217 posts of 18 Italian small destinations are retrieved (period of higher tourism turnout in 2019). Both content analysis (RQ1) and linear regression models (RQ2) are used.
Results: Scholars have never focused on the link between the engagement of a photo and the hashtags related to specific territories. Through this research, we can state that people use hashtags referring to the wider destination area (mainly combining region and nation). The hashtag of a small and niche destination together with the hashtags of the region, neighbouring territories or the nation, can improve the engagement of the related picture in terms of number of likes.
Implications: This study confirms the role of the hashtags in enhancing a picture’s engagement contributing to the literature about the consumers’ feedback on online picture by adding the territorial dimension as a variable. From a managerial perspective, it suggests how destination management organizations should use hashtags in Instagram, in order to improve their offerings.
Keywords: Hashtags, small destination, tourist area, Instagram
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