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Thematic framework of social media research: state of the art

Xi Yu Leung (Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, College of Merchandising Hospitality and Tourism, University of North Texas, Denton,Texas, USA)
Jie Sun (Collins College of Hospitality Management, California Polytechnic State University, Pomona, California, USA)
Billy Bai (William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)

Tourism Review

ISSN: 1660-5373

Article publication date: 16 January 2019

Issue publication date: 19 June 2019




The unprecedented growth of social media in the past decade has resulted in an increasing interest on social media research. The purpose of this study is to examine the state-of-the-art developments in social media research and to develop a thematic research framework.


The study reviewed 262 social media-related articles published in eight top hospitality and tourism journals between 2007 and 2017. Content analysis was used to code data from the selected articles, and correspondence analysis was then used to compare the characteristics of research conducted on different social media platforms.


A thematic framework of social media research was developed based on a thorough review and systematic examination of the articles. The thematic framework consisted of the three key players – hospitality and tourism businesses, social media platforms and consumers – along with four categories of topical areas – marketing, managerial implication, user-generated content and impact – and 19 research topics. Three platform groups were identified to share similar article characteristics and research attributes.


This study offers a systematic overview of social media research in hospitality and tourism and is the first one to identify triadic relationships of social media platforms in thematic research framework. The innovative findings of correspondence analysis offer insights on future social media research from a platform perspective.



Leung, X.Y., Sun, J. and Bai, B. (2019), "Thematic framework of social media research: state of the art", Tourism Review, Vol. 74 No. 3, pp. 517-531.



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