Publication Date

2015-06-29

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2015-06-29

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

Communication Studies (Communication)

Date of Defense

2015-05-19

First Committee Member

Cong Li

Second Committee Member

Alyse R. Lancaster

Third Committee Member

Jan H. Boehmer

Fourth Committee Member

Terry Bloom

Abstract

This study examines how Fortune 500 companies use Twitter on a daily basis. Chapters include an introduction explaining the importance of Twitter to companies by discussing some of the most damaging 140-character mishaps and some impressive crisis management strategies. A literature review is presented beginning with a discussion of computer-mediate communication (CMC), interactivity, word-of-mouth (WOM), message valence, and ending with a section differentiating between business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) companies. Lastly, the methodology, operationalizations, and research design are presented to examine companies’ interactivity with users, message valence, how B2Bs differ from B2Cs, and how long users can expect to wait for a company to respond to their tweet. Many prior social media studies examine how companies operate during a crisis or during other one-off situations. This longitudinal study examines how companies use Twitter on a daily basis over the course of five years (from 2009 to 2013). This study has a sample size of nearly 10,000 tweets, further adding to the importance of the results. Social media communication that promotes products to generate sales is not appreciated by users who feel that advertising is invasive. For this reason, companies use social media as a public relations instrument to influence perceptions, strengthen the brand, and solidify reputation. This study contributes to public relations literature by involving social media and modernizing the discipline in a time when the world is trading information online in 140-character increments.

Keywords

Twitter; public relations; Fortune 500; interactivity; B2B and B2C; social media

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