The Value of Social Media Advertising Strategies on Tourist Behavior: A Game-Changer for Small Rural Businesses

Nory B. Jones, University of Maine
Patti Miles, University of Maine
Tanya Beaulieu, University of Maine

Abstract/ Summary

Nature-based tourism represents a growing sector within the tourism industry, and these interests could help improve the conditions of economically disadvantaged rural communities. The new digital landscape, including Internet and social media usage, represents a critical strategic opportunity to inform, educate and reach these tourism segments. The present research examines the impact of social media advertising on nature-based tourism within rural communities. In this research, we utilize the COBRA (Consumers’ Online Brand-Related Activities) model (Muntinga et al., 2011) of consumer behavior to assess the impact social media advertising plays in generating Pre-Consumption, Consumption, Creation, Contribution, and Engagement in rural business. The results are significant, finding that incorporating digital strategies within rural firms is beneficial. According to our research, the careful placement of a social media advertisement can statistically increase engagement components by more than 50%. In theory, this can increase tourism and economic activity in these rural, economically disadvantaged areas.