How is Social Media Driving the Popularity of Smart Cities


Smart cities are on the rise. Around the globe, cities like Singapore, Helsinki, Seoul, and New York are using artificial intelligence to increase tourism, reduce waste, and improve accessibility.

Social media plays a vital role in raising awareness about the importance of smart cities. Folks on social media can use their voice to advocate for changes like increased sustainable tourism, improved IoT connectivity, and more consistent 5G coverage.

Social media coverage of smart cities can boost eco-friendly tourism, too. Climate-conscious tourists who visit smart cities will find that their ecological impact is minimized while their positive impact on the local economy is maximized.

Smart Tourism

Tourism is the economic backbone of many major cities. Tourists spend big on local attractions, accommodation, and small businesses. However, some residents may notice that a disproportionate flow of tourist traffic undermines the local economy and makes life harder for residents.

Smart cities that use social media can direct tourist flow while supporting small businesses. Data analytics from smart technology can track tourist spending and foot traffic, while social listening programs can highlight relevant IG stories, Tweets, and TikTok posts.

Small businesses can also compete in a global market by optimizing their listings to appear in local searches and connecting with customers through sincere engagement.  Smart cities that embrace social media can then promote these companies by posting their content across media channels tailored to visitors and audiences outside of the city.

City planners can improve the profitability of small businesses in the area by highlighting local business pages on social platforms, too. For example, if a city runs a tourist-specific IG account, it can spend the day highlighting a local coffee shop or street vendor to improve its traffic and ensure that small businesses have a fair chance in a city dominated by global enterprises.

Integrated Applications

Word travels fast in smart cities, where everyone is constantly on the lookout for the latest apps and software. Today, tech-savvy city tourists can make use of social media apps that are integrated into the city itself.

A recent study posted in Mathematical Problems in Engineering followed Instagram (IG) users in Taiwan during a night market. Tourists who used Instagram were able to view local IG vendor stories in markets like Luodong, the Fengjia Commercial District, and Dongdaemun. Researchers found that IG-using tourists were more likely to find trustworthy vendors thanks to IG stories and could place orders or make queries online while navigating the night market.

The widespread integration of social media applications into city life can improve productivity and increase human connection, too. Folks feel far safer when they can chat with a local business first via IG or Facebook and can safely navigate the city they are visiting with help from social media platforms. This increases tourist engagement with local vendors and fosters a genuine sense of connection between visitors and businesses.

Increased Engagement

Social media is designed to help folks come together and share their passion for common interests. Ideally, these connections will transcend the social sphere and lead to increased community engagement in the real world.

With this in mind, smart cities should aim to leverage social media to improve tourist engagement in community events via social platforms.

For example, a city that hosts a yearly parade can increase attendance by paying influencers to blog about the parade in the lead-up to the big day. Influencers could make money from blogging thanks to city-sponsored affiliate marketing and use their social savvy to improve metrics like impressions and click-through-rate. In this scenario, tourism and attendance will increase at the parade thanks to the social partnership, and the city benefits from improved city-wide morale and income.

Smart cities that use social media to improve engagement can gather important data, too. Social metrics like engagement and virality rate are invaluable for city planners who are deciding how to best spend their budget.

Social Data

Tourists’ smartphones are constantly generating data that can be used by city planners and local businesses alike. Even simple data sets — like foot traffic and population density — can be improved by data transmitted by social media.

Smart cities like St. Kilda, Houston, and Akita are already using social media data to improve their infrastructure. Publicly available data on social media gives city workers real-time updates so the city can respond to the tourists’ needs and behavior. For example, if a social listening platform notices an uptick in negative mentions about a certain district, more can be done to improve that area.

Social media is the perfect platform for user feedback, too. Social media can help tourists leave valuable feedback about their time in the city. Official city tourism agencies can gather feedback and highlight upcoming surveys or changes to projects and policies. This ensures that folks who travel to smart cities can weigh in at a time that is most convenient for them.  


Social media is driving the popularity of smart cities around the globe. Tourists today can use their social accounts to navigate city vendors and find out about upcoming events. Similarly, city planners can use social data to plan improvements and increase engagement with community events. Tourists who visit smart cities can advocate for smart city tech in their own hometowns, too. In time, this will increase the adoption of smart city technology and improve the equitability and economic stability of more cities around the globe.