Eduardo Oliveira, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen, Landleven 1, Groningen, 9747AD, The Netherlands. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Content generated by tourists, travellers, professional travel bloggers and travel journalists who post, comment and share information on social media channels is arguably the greatest digital challenge of destination branding today. The tourist-/traveller-generated content is likely to generate brand value if integrated into the destination branding strategy. There is, however, a lack of theoretical awareness and empirical research into the role of social media content in shaping destination brands. By taking Portugal as a case study, this exploratory research is aimed to show how content analysis can be used to identify and understand the way tourists and travellers perceive the country as a tourist destination. The application of this methodology on online material could contribute to a refined destination branding initiative for Portugal by integrating user-generated and travel experts content into the strategy. It applies textual content analysis by using qualitative data analysis software (i.e. ATLAS.ti 7.0), within an interpretative paradigm, on tourism-oriented online publications in which the tourism potential of Portugal has been discussed. The findings highlight the tourist/traveller as an opinion maker with access to a plethora of information communication technologies to act as co-creators of brands. Therefore, it is wise to engage them and strategically integrate the content they generate into the whole destination branding effort.