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Places going viral: Twitter usage patterns in destination marketing and place branding

Efe Sevin (School of International Service, American University, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)

Journal of Place Management and Development

ISSN: 1753-8335

Article publication date: 7 October 2013




The purpose of this paper is to analyse how Twitter is utilized by five prominent American destination marketing projects (Illinois, San Francisco, Idaho, Texas, and Milwaukee) to understand the overall trends and usage patterns of microblogging, and the relation of social media ecology and place branding.


This is a comparative study of five Twitter accounts belonging to five destination marketing offices (@enjoyillinois, @onlyinsf, @visitidaho, @texastourism, and @visitmilwaukee). This research looks at two different types of communication activities on Twitter: one-way communication (i.e. broadcasting messages), and two-way communication (i.e. conversing with other users). A total of 5,582 tweets created between October 10, 2011 and October 10, 2012 were analyzed in terms of main topics and subjects covered, and main communication activities engaged.


The research found that destination marketing projects tend to use Twitter pre-dominantly to share about events – such as festivals, concerts, and fairs – taking place in their jurisdiction with their followers. These projects do not necessarily make use of interpersonal communication and networking capabilities of Twitter. Rather, this social media platform is used to distribute information online.


The findings of this research have practical and theoretical implications. On the practical side, this research sheds light on how Twitter is utilized, and creates recommendations on how destination marketing projects can widen the broadcasting of messages and reach target audiences. On the theoretical side, this research tests the explanatory powers of Kavaratzis' influential city branding framework.



Sevin, E. (2013), "Places going viral: Twitter usage patterns in destination marketing and place branding", Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 227-239.



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