Razvojem informacijsko-komunikacijske tehnologije, posebice društvenih mreža, mijenja se i komunikacija između ljudi, kako u privatnom, tako i u poslovnom svijetu. Društvene mreže kao komunikacijska platforma imaju veliku ulogu u ostvarivanju uspješnosti poslovanja suvremenih gospodarskih subjekata, a koja se očituje u boljoj povezanosti i otvorenosti prema klijentima, reklamiranju ciljanim skupinama, pronalaženju poslovnih partnera, razvijanju novih ideja i drugo. Budući da je turizam jedna od najvažnijih gospodarskih grana Republike Hrvatske te da su upravo obiteljski i mali hoteli zadnjih godina među najtraženijim hrvatskim turističkim proizvodima na inozemnom turističkom tržištu, izabrani su kao kategorija u kojoj je provedeno istraživanje. Cilj ovoga rada jest egzaktno utvrditi način i razinu korištenja društvenih mreža kao komunikacijske platforme u poslovanju malih i obiteljskih hotela na području Republike Hrvatske te predstaviti teorijski model komunikacijske strategije za nastup na društvenim mrežama. U istraživanju su korišteni podaci o malim i obiteljskim hotelima dostupni putem web stranice Ministarstva turizma (Popis kategoriziranih turističkih objekata u Republici Hrvatskoj 2018.) te putem web stranice Nacionalne udruge obiteljskih i malih hotela (OMH). Za prikupljanje podataka je korištena metoda ankete. Anketni upitnik bio je namijenjen osobama koje su zadužene za upravljanje društvenim mrežama kako bi se dobio potpun uvid u komunikaciju na društvenim mrežama. Naime, ispitana je učestalost objavljivanja sadržaja, vrsta sadržaja, korištenje dostupnih mogućnosti te ostali parametri važni za komunikacijsku strategiju. Istraživanje je pokazalo kako mali i obiteljski hoteli iskorištavaju velik dio mogućnosti koje društvene mreže kao komunikacijska platforma pružaju, no još uvijek nedostaje zaokruženo djelovanje i potpuna iskorištenost potencijala zbog nedostatka valjane komunikacijske strategije. Iz navedenog razloga, temeljem analize rezultata istraživanja, predstavljen je teorijski model komunikacijske strategije za nastup na društvenim mrežama koji, uz prikazane konkretne smjernice, može doprinijeti razvoju poslovanja malih i obiteljskih hotela.
Social networks as a communication platform play a major role in achieving business success of modern companies, which is manifested in better connectivity and openness to customers, target advertising, finding business partners, developing new ideas and more. Regarding public relations, social networks are great platform for every company, state institution or non-governmental organization to communicate directly with its public. Social networks are especially important in the field of public relations because they improve communication, influence social change, and in society lead to the development of new dimensions of communication, especially when it comes to business communication. Public relations and marketing in the past have been separate disciplines run by different people with separate goals, strategies, and benchmarks. At the time, there was only traditional, nontargeted, one-way advertising through print media, radio, television, and direct mail. Thanks to the Internet, especially two-way communication on social networks, many companies, organizations, non-profit groups, experts and professionals in any field are able to reach consumers through targeted messages. Internet content brings marketing and public relations much closer than the offline world where marketing and public relations are separate departments where people of different skills and abilities work. Marketing is now far more than just advertising, and public relations is not just for a mass media audience. The fact is that the line between marketing and public relations, which was once talked about, is completely disappearing on the Internet. In accordance with the above, it is clear that marketing communication on social networks with crisis communication is part of modern public relations, and as these forms are extremely important when it comes to business communication, the paper analyzes it in detail. Marketing communication on social networks is a method of internet marketing which, through the application of a multidisciplinary marketing campaign, approaches the users of social networks and conveys the desired message, which usually calls for action, and less often only informs. It can also be defined as a strategic approach aimed at encouraging potential customers to voluntarily exchange information about the product or service, and comment on the same, which contributes to a higher level of exposure to the promotional message. The advantage of marketing communication through social networks is the speed of communication and receiving feedback. This is why social networks are becoming platforms for successful and productive business processes. If we consider in general the business model behind social networks, it can be concluded that the monetization of the model is most often based on marketing communication. In this case, the social network was created with the aim of attracting as many users as possible in order to implement the advertising model and thus generate revenue. Also, as mentioned above, an extremely important form of business communication is crisis communication. The concept of crisis communication on social networks includes the exchange of information with the public during the crisis and taking measures to calm the intensity of the crisis towards certain target groups of the public through social platforms. The fact that events in online communities, especially on social networks take place in real time, has given a completely new dimension to crisis management, and social networks have become an ideal channel for this type of communication. In the context of business digitalization, it is evident that the Croatian market is increasingly following European and global trends. It is also clear how Croatian businesses use social networks in their business, but the question arises about the level of application, and certainly, the extent of exploiting the potential that social networks as a communication platform offer. Since tourism is one of the most important economic branches of the Republic of Croatia and family and small hotels have been among the most sought after Croatian tourist products on the foreign tourist market in recent years, they were chosen as the category in which the research will be conducted. The development of small and family hotels in the Croatian touristic offer unites all the qualities of tourism that visitors have known so far, and at the same time with small and family hotels there are some new advantages that manifest themselves as qualities that were almost unknown until now. The offer of small family hotels opens a new page of the tourist offer because guests feel the best and most comfortable in a quiet, close, comfortable and family environment and there is a completely personal approach. It is this warmth of personal approach that is very important and irreplaceable, and small and family hotels are the form of tourist offer that knows best is and best represents this convenience. Today, 402 small and family hotels operate in Croatia, which is 58.9% of the total number of hotels (List of categorized tourist facilities in the Republic of Croatia 2018) and it can be expected that their number will continue to grow in the future. The aim of this paper is to determine exactly the manner and level of use of social networks as a communication platform for the small and family hotels in the Republic of Croatia and to present a theoretical model of communication strategy for social networks. The research used data on small and family hotels available through the website of the Ministry of Tourism (List of categorized tourist facilities in the Republic of Croatia 2018) and through the website of the National Association of Family and Small Hotels. A survey questionnaire method was used to collect data. The survey questionnaire was intended for people in charge of managing social networks in order to gain a complete insight into communication on social networks. Namely, the frequency of publishing content, the type of content, the use of available options and other parameters important for the communication strategy were examined. Research has shown that small and family hotels take advantage of many of the opportunities that social networks as a communication platform provide, but there is still a lack of rounded action and full use of potential due to the lack of a valid communication strategy. For this reason, based on the analysis of research results, a theoretical model of communication strategy for social networking is presented, which, along with specific guidelines, can contribute to the development of small and family hotels.