The Social Tricks of Advertising: Discourse Strategies of English-Speaking Tour Operators on Facebook

Francesca Bianchi


The current paper is intendedto provide a description of the linguistic and discourse strategiesdisplayed by generalised and budget tour operators in Facebook, with particular emphasis on the techniquesemployed to promote destinations. To this aim, a corpus including 326 posts wascreated.The postswereanalysed by means ofcorpus linguistics methods–including POS tagging, keyword analysis, and analysis ofcollocations–, while the images accompanying the postswereanalysed within the framework ofvisualgrammar theory.Keyword analysis showedthatthe posts underinvestigation, despite being written texts, arecloser to spoken communication rather than written informal communication. Theanalysesalsoshowed amplepresence of linguistic and rhetorical techniques typicalof tourism promotion. Furthermore, the analyses provedthat the tourism operators considered are expert conversation managers who have developed a range ofstrategies to influence conversation. Finally, comparison between the current results and previous empiricalstudies suggest that promotional strategies and thus ‘the language of tourism’ varies not only from culture toculture, but also depending on text type (e.g. website vs. Facebook page), tourism service provider (e.g. hotelchains vs. tour operators), andtarget (e.g. luxury vs. non-luxury tour operator)



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