Lebanon’s area is ranked 170th in the world (CIA, 2014). It is smaller sized than the size of Connecticut, one of the smallest states in America. Furthermore, Lebanon is one of the few democratic nations in the Middle East region. Regarding the economy, Lebanon is a free market economy and has a very long tradition of laissez-faire economics. In addition to its coastal location on the Eastern Mediterranean sea coast, Lebanon is considered as the main ‘window’ of the Middle East to Europe, North Africa, and the rest of the world. Because of this, its economy has gone through some very prosperous times and was even once called the ‘Paris’ of the Middle East before the nation’s 15 year-long bloody civil battle which ended in 1990.
Furthermore, although Lebanon is tiny, additionally it is one of the most diverse nations in the world. Christians, Muslims, Druze, and other minority sects are spread all over the small country and even Lebanon’s political system is based on sectarian power sharing.
However , this diversity had played a crucial role in the nation’s problems. This particular diversity was a necessary condition from the country’s sectarian civil war and currently plays an important role in the political paralysis, although other factors (mainly foreign) are to blame as well. There is certainly currently no acting President and the country’s rival political parties maintain bickering and preventing rather than assisting the country’s development.
Furthermore, Lebanon’s proximity to Israel has made it a foreign policy/proxy battleground for foreign nations, each using Lebanon for its own selfish ends.
The sad political realities of the country have significantly hurt the nation’s economy. Also, since Lebanon is a service-based economy, this particular sector has taken the largest hit.
Tourism plays a substantial role in the nation’s economy. Based on the Lebanese Ministry of Economy and Trade (MOET), “Tourism has long been among Lebanon’s leading economic sectors” (Economic Research Unit, 2010).
Furthermore, The planet Travel & Tourism Council approximated that the travel & tourism industry in Lebanon contributed over $4 billion dollars in 2013 (World Travel & Tourism Council, 2014).
The travel & tourism field made up about 10% of the economy in 2012 but that share decreased to 9% in 2013 (ibid, p.
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14). This is due to the political scenario in the country as well as some other factors. Moreover, the number of tourist arrivals in the country kept decreasing from 2011 to 2013.
Since the tourism industry has been fairly floundering in the past few years, the room for error becomes very small for businesses in this industry. The political & economic situations are squeezing tourist-related (TR) businesses in Lebanon. This means that these businesses are forced to do more to make up for increasing losses (or lowering profits) and with fewer resources. There is no telling when the political & economic situation in Lebanon will improve especially since the civil war in neighboring Syria shows no signs of abating.
There are numerous ways that Lebanese TR businesses can adapt during these times such as implementing downsizing policies and cutting back on marketing & advertising budgets. When financial recessions and tough times affect companies, the first things to get eliminated are usually marketing budgets. But especially given that TR businesses need to do more marketing to make up for lost businesses, this isn’t always a good idea.
One solution to this problem is to benefit from Social Media Marketing strategies since they cost little to no resources, perfect for the existing economic situation in Lebanon. Social media marketing enables TR businesses to overcome hurdles of limited budgets and decreased business.
During the past couple of years, the positive effect of social media on business has been extremely high (Kaplan ainsi que al., 2010; Stelzner, 2010; Treem & Leonardi, 2012, p. 143; Baker & Green, 2014).
Furthermore, Facebook and Twitter fans of a specific brand are much more likely to recommend and buy from these brands than non-fans (Cruz & Mendelsohn, 2011). But , we don’t need to make sure of social media’s impact on business through studies. For social media users, which include more than 30% of the world, this fact is known. More and more businesses are inserting Social internet marketing tools into their marketing strategies plus, in some cases, have even become a fundamental element of their overall business strategy.
Naturally, one would expect that Lebanese businesses would quickly adopt Social Media Marketing as a key role in their overall marketing and advertising strategies but this is not the case. When it comes to the Middle East and especially Lebanon, the location is far behind the West in social media usage. Not only that, when it comes to businesses involved in the tourism industry, there is certainly much room for growth. Small investment in technology is maintaining tourist businesses away from maximizing marketing opportunities given by social media.
The Lebanese tourism industry is not taking advantage of social internet marketing tactics even though the advantages of doing so are apparent. This presents a great problem especially since the economy is going via a very rough time.
Moreover, Lebanese TR businesses and businesses within Lebanon in general are not adopting social networking tools as they should. This gifts a huge problem in the waste of resources as well as significant missed possibilities as a larger target audience can be reached via social media enabling businesses that adopt social media marketing tools gain a much better chance of success and prosperity.
Reason for the study
The fruits and advantages of social media marketing tools may take significant time to come regarding in Lebanon if we are unaware of the factors that have led to preventing widespread social media marketing adoption.
Also, provided that no study goes into the issue of successfully implementing a social media marketing campaign in the Lebanese context, many TR companies may be lost even if they choose to adopt social media marketing tools.
Additionally , although there have been numerous studies in the West about effectively implementing social media marketing campaigns, the final results of these studies may or might not apply to the Lebanese context. Consequently , it is also the purpose of this study to find out those factors related to effectively applying social media marketing among Lebanese TR businesses.
At the end, there is no doubt that social media marketing plays an extremely important role in the advertising campaigns and even in the overall success of tourism-related businesses.
Lebanese Tourist-Related (TR) businesses fall far behind the developed world investing and taking advantage of SMM. Since there are many benefits of SMM, why is this so? Also, in order to catch up to the rest of the world, what is the most effective way for Lebanese TR businesses to deploy an SMM advertising campaign? So , it was the study’s purpose to find reasons linked to such reduced investment & use of SMM by Lebanese TR businesses and to help guide these businesses in effectively using SMM.
The purpose of this study is twofold. This study aims to discover exactly what those factors are that are preventing the widespread adoption associated with social media marketing tools among Lebanese TR businesses. The philosophy used is definitely interpretivism, for an inductive approach to move from specific to general analysis, the strategy is ethnographic, and the methodology is qualitative. In-depth interviews are used with ten participants through ten different companies. Five companies had high social media ‘visibility’ as well as the other five didn’t. So , the participants’ answers provided very useful details and solutions for the research issue.
The results found that one of the most relevant factors of little SMM investment & use by Lebanese TR businesses are that many don’t observe benefits to using SMM therefore don’t support it.
The results also provided useful information on factors to get effectively implementing SMM by Lebanese TR businesses including the acceptance associated with SMM by ownership/decision-makers and the significance of these people in seeing the benefits of SMM. Also, problems with implementing SMM include negative customer feedback and inter-departmental power struggles.
Recommendations include communicating the advantages of SMM to Lebanese TR companies which is of such high significance to get them to use SMM. Presently there should also be an SMM program with a consistent schedule outlining the days to add content to social media sites along with comprehensive monitoring of SM user comments about the business.
At the end, it is the researcher’s hope that the study assisted shed light on important aspects of SMM as well as its relation to Lebanese TR businesses. It is also hoped that the recommendations be taken into account by Lebanese TR businesses.