This study offers a perspective of social media performance measurement techniques adopted by hoteliers, with a focus on financial returns. The research adopted a qualitative approach, data was collected through semi-structured, open-ended interviews. Findings indicate that ROI is understood as an umbrella concept, where engagement rates, customer response and volume of likes and comments are most important. However, the element of ROI in the form of financial outcomes derived from social media remains elusive. This research contributes to social media adoption literature by investigating current social media measurement practices within the hospitality industry. While hotel managers employ diverse strategies for social media deployment, the focus on the effectiveness of these strategies is questionable, particularly considering financial metrics. This study presents key metrics currently used, but more importantly highlights which aspects of social media performance measurement are neglected and the gap they create in assessing social media strategies holistically and effectively.
The present times phenomena represented by the worldwide accessibility to the Internet is reshaping the world as we know it. Defined as ‘the lovechild’ of the World Wide Web, social media comes in various forms, including forums, blogs, microblogs, photo-sharing platforms, social gaming, business networks, chat apps, and social networks (Statista Inc., 2016). The power of social networking is supported by the recent statistics, showing that the number of worldwide users on social networking is expected to reach 2.5 billion by 2018, an equivalent of approximately a third of the Earth’s entire population (Statista Inc., 2016). Global internet users spend, on average, 101.4 min per day surfing social networks, with user engagement continuing to grow (Statista Inc., 2016). The main social networking sites including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, and their global usage have grown to a scale that can only be described as ubiquitous (Hoffman and Novak, 2012). In the United Kingdom alone, the statistics from January 2016, show that 59.47 million people are internet users, a total of 92% of the total population of the country using the Internet, and 85% of them using it on a daily basis. This prompts the regional, national, worldwide brands and marketers to use that time and screen space to promote various products or services via social media advertising or marketing. For example, considering its 22 billion ad clicks per year, Facebook is offering businesses the biggest advertising opportunity since search functionalities (Wordstream Inc, 2015). However, finding a firm foundation on which to base strategic decisions regarding on how to employ social media, to influence, and to engage their customers, still remains a challenge for many marketers. And although it has become easier to set a well-established social media strategy, the question naturally arises whether the money and time invested into a social media strategy is actually resulting in a better performance for the whole business (Nadda et al., 2015). In 2016, the hospitality industry generated over 73bn of Gross Value Added directly to the UK economy, it accounts for 3.2 million jobs through direct employment, which makes it the 4th biggest employer in the UK, succeeding the business services, wholesale and retail, human health and social work (BHA, 2017).