Purpose- The purpose of this paper is to report on research investigating the outcomes associated with a network for learning that was developed from a student based project involving the application and management of social media for business. Design/methodology/approach- Questionnaires were used to gather responses from tourism, leisure and event-related regional business owners/managers who participated in a student based project from 2010-2012. Unsolicited feedback and communications, secondary sources, observations and communications were used to validate responses. Pre- and post-project social media usage and usage barriers; knowledge and skill gained and/or shared and with whom TLErelated businesses shared the information gained; and an examination of the network for learning. Findings: A dynamic, network was developed to share and exchange information. Outcomes included: the strengthening of cooperative working relationships between regional tourism businesses and the host institution; increased awareness between stakeholders of new and innovative ideas in the tourism field; the acquisition of expertise by participating businesses in the use of social media; and the enhancement of tourism in the regional area. Results of this study show that increased levels of knowledge and skill were gained by participating businesses and then shared with non-participating businesses to enhance the capacity of TLE-related stakeholders in the regional area. This process amplified learning, knowledge creation and understanding and facilitation of collaborative networks for learning. Implications: This study furthers current knowledge on ways to create capacity within small tourism businesses by integrating social media within a student-based project that enhance participant skill and knowledge development.
e-Journal of Social & Behavioural Research in Business / Vol. 6, No. 2, pp.20-33