PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to use user-generated content (UGC) on social media platforms to infer the possible place brand identities of two famous metropolitan areas in Bangkok, Thailand, namely, Khaosan Road and Yaowarat (Bangkok’s Chinatown), both of which are famous for their street vendors and nightlife. These two places are interesting study sites because of recent identity conflicts among their stakeholders. The method developed in this research can help other places to better understand place brand identities and, as such, effectively plan for and manage those places.Design/methodology/approachThe author used content analysis to study 782 user-generated images on Flickr and 9,633 user-generated textual reviews of Khaosan Road and Yaowarat from TripAdvisor and Google Maps’ Local Guide. MAXQDA was used to code all the images. User-generated textual reviews were studied using Leximancer. The author also introduced a positivity of concept analysis to identify positive and negative components of place brand identity.FindingsThe author developed a place brand identity framework that includes three pillars, namely, place physics, place practices and place personality. Content analysis of the images generated 105 codes and a count of the frequency of the codes that represent place brand identity. Content analysis of textual reviews created the concepts in the three pillars and identified the positive and negative concepts for both places. The results of both image and text analyses showed that street food vending is one of the most salient components of place brand identity for both Khaosan Road and Yaowarat.Practical implicationsThe author suggested several place branding strategies for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration such as turning Khaosan Road into a music scene for both visitors and locals, controlling excessive and aggressive commercialism, sponsoring the production of creative and authentic content, initiating a compelling online campaign that focusses on the items sold in Yaowarat, hosting a spotlight event such as a seafood festival and improving hygiene and walkability.Originality/valueBoth the advancement of digital technologies and the complexity of stakeholders create a need for empirical studies on place branding involving the participation of the widest possible range of stakeholders and studies on the influence of social media. This research is the first to use both image and text analyses to study place brand identity from UGC. The use of both analyses allows the two methods to complement one another while mitigating the weaknesses of each.
Journal of Place Management and Development – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 4, 2019
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