Based on our netnography research, we found that our target group is practising responsible tourism more. They are conscious of the bad animal treatments that elephants would receive and aim to be more ethical by encouraging others not to engage in such activities. The community also highly recommends islands such as Krabi, Koh Tao and Koh Samui to potential tourists. The next popular item of discussion is temples like the White Temple and the Golden Temple. Some people also found leisure in more local activities like riding in motor cycles and visiting markets.
While there are often mentioning of elephants on the Instagram community based on our Netlytic data scraping, we found it to be less popular than other activities such as temples and boats. Markets and motor cycling are not often referred to here. Popular beaches such as Phuket, Krabi and Koh Tao are also talked about a lot. However, Bangkok still remains the most discussed destination in our of our data sets. We also found that Twitter is more informative while people on Instagram mentioned their feelings more. Over all, it can be clearly observed that the online community has a positive attitude towards travelling in Thailand.
On Instagram, many big cluster groups exist; however, these groups are sparsely connected with each other. The network is limited within the cluster and does not extend to the rest of the people using the same hashtags. On Twitter however, while big hubs also exist, the network is more dense and interconnected. From this, we learned that Instagram users within our topic does not reach our to others while people on Twitter are more talkative and reach out more to others. One thing both platforms have in common is that the influencers are travel bloggers.
We found that around 3 – 11 p.m. Dutch time, there are significantly less activities. However, the time frame that is best for posting is not clearly distinguished.
Twitter users post from their phones twice as much as from their web browsers.
Limitations and Further Research
On instagram, images are more meaningful and important than text description in terms of content. However, Netlytics could not interpret photos and compile them into quantifiable data; hence, we lost out on an important aspect to the first sub-research question. While a good programme that processes and interprets a large volume of images is still not widely available, we would suggest further researchers to find ways to identify emerging themes in images.
Another limitation that we had was the volume of data collected. More data from Twitter and Instagram as well as comments on Facebook and Youtube can provide more meaningful results to our research. In the case of Twitter and Instagram, data could also be collected over a longer period of time, preferably over a month, so that trends are more visible when shown on Gephi.
For future research, we want to suggest a better program that can interpret time stamps. We used Excel to plot a scatter graph; however, we can find a program that not only visualises posting time, but also connects it to user activity to provide more meaning to the data.
Our largest limitation of all is however the data corruption that happened with Netlytic. It forced us to collect Instagram data over a shorter period of time while preventing us from inputting the Twitter network into Gephi. In the future, should this research be repeated, we would not make the same mistake and ensure sufficient data is retrieved.
The following recommendations are for Thailand tourism industries. They can use this data for social media marketing purposes and attract more visitor to their country.
- Target big influencers on Instagram that are directly connected to many people. The platform is not suited for discussions and interconnected network; therefore, it would be more effective to gain endorsement from someone that has direct relationship with people.
- Make your Instagram messages positive and use relevant hashtags. Without good hashtags, your posts will not be viewed by the right audience and you would not gain any connection. Use good photos to attract your audience, keep in mind that they love photos of temples and beaches.
- Stay informative on Twitter. People are there to find more information. Use relevant hashtags to build your network and talk to as many people as you can.
- Make sure your content is easy to view on mobile devices as this is how your audience will most likely view it. Pay attention to links and videos.
- Stay ethical. People are becoming more aware about responsible tourism and will have a negative if you are seen promoting unethical activities.