Theoretical Foundations of Social Media Power in Hospitality and Tourism: A Hierarchical Model

Fuad Mehraliyev, Youngjoon Choi, Brian King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


There has been exponential growth in the power exercised by social media in hospitality and tourism. The power of social media platforms as stakeholders has been widely accepted by both academics and industry practitioners. However, to the best of the current authors’ knowledge, there has been no conceptualization of the power attributable to social media. On this basis, it is both timely and necessary to establish theoretical grounds that explain the concept of social media power and its application in hospitality and tourism. A hierarchical model that characterizes social media power is constructed in the present article by bringing together fundamental power discourses, media effect theories, and technology determinism. The authors identify definitions and sources of social media power at different levels of the power pyramid and present various technological mechanisms that trigger such sources. This conceptual study proposes theoretical foundations for future research and theory-building.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-231
Number of pages17
JournalCornell Hospitality Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, or publication of this article: This work was supported by the Institute of International Business and Governance, with the substantial support of a grant from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (UGC/IDS 16/17).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • hierarchical model
  • media effects
  • power
  • social media
  • social power theory
  • technology


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