B10: Research into organizational online communication
The Change of Organizational Communication Strategies in the Online Media Age – Identifying Publics and their Reception Heuristics
Technische Universität Chemnitz, Germany
Relevance & Research Question: The internet is changing many of the existing assumptions of communication practices in organizations. In dealing with online publics, two main aspects can be recognized: the development of personal and the diversification of professional publics (Schmidt 2008). The challenge for organisations is to identify relevant publics and to create effective address strategies, e.g. in crisis communication and CSR-topics. Based on the involvement in and knowledge about an issue, four types of publics can be defined: active, aware, aroused and inactive publics (Hallahan 2000). What they have in common is the use of heuristics when processing persuasive messages from organizations (Gilovich/Griffin/Kahnemann 2008; Gigerenzer et al. 1999; Chen et al. 1999; Chaiken/Maheswaran 1994; Chaiken 1980). The main goal is to identify and label the relevant publics and set of heuristics being used, especially in online communication settings.
Methods & Data: Following the grounded theory approach (Glaser/Strauss 2009), qualitative, guidelined-based interviews with communication experts of a special enterprise sector mark the first step in identifying relevant publics and making first assumptions about used heuristics respectively. By including either qualitative and quantitative data ressources, these assumptions can be tested in a quantitive survey later (triangulation).
Results: A qualitative content analysis of the interview transcripts showed similarities between the expert statements which allows the determination of temporary main categories. These categories are separated in relevant publics which mark next intensive interview possiblities (e.g. NGOs, journalists) as well as indicators which influence the reception of persuasive organizational messages (e.g. source credibility, organization history). Furthermore the relevant publics can be described through their characteristics and special dimensions. This makes it easier to refer to heuristic cues and heuristics being used.
Added Value: The results of this research will lead to a better understanding for publics, their interests and needs and therefore to better concepts of organizational communication strategies. In terms of methodology, the work will emphasize the largely overlooked importance of qualitative research methods and their contribution to quantitative approaches in the field of public relations studies and online communication.
Webcare on social network sites: attentive customer care or privacy infringement?
1University of Applied Sciences of Amsterdam; 2University of Amsterdam
Relevance & RQ: Relying on relationship marketing literature and empowered by web crawling technologies, firms are increasingly monitoring and intervening with word of mouth on social network sites (SNS). Empirical evidence for the effectiveness of these webcare activities is mixed for negative word of mouth (NWOM) and lacking altogether for positive word of mouth (PWOM). This study investigates the effects of content and context characteristics of the consumer-generated comments and the firm’s subsequent response on webcare effectiveness. Drawing on reactance theory, it is hypothesized that perceived privacy infringement (PPI) explains these effects.
Method: In May 2012, 1,267 Dutch consumers (Mage = 43.8, 50.8% female) participated in an online experiment. Respondents were exposed to a description of a service encounter (positive vs negative), a consumer comment (posted on a customer vs corporate account; addressing vs mentioning the firm), and the firm’s webcare response (generic vs personalized). A factorial ANOVA was applied to scrutinize the effects of the independent variables on customer satisfaction and purchase intentions. Preacher and Hayes’ bootstrapping procedure was used to analyze the mediating effects of PPI.
Results: Results show that a webcare response can mitigate the adverse effects of a negative service encounter, but cannot enlarge – and sometimes even discounts - the positive effects of a positive service encounter. Results also indicate that, in contrast with conventional beliefs, a generic webcare response is more effective than a personalized response, and that an unsolicited response is only effective for NWOM and always less effective than a solicited response. As hypothesized, these effects are mediated by customers’ feelings of privacy infringement resulting from the firm’s webcare response.
Added value: Theoretical contributions are 1) that content and context characteristics of WOM and the subsequent webcare response affect PPI, 2) that PPI, through its effect on customer satisfaction and purchase intention, can account for mixed results concerning webcare intervention effectiveness in previous studies, and 3) that corporate interference with PWOM discounts rather than enhances customer satisfaction. For marketers, the results provide practical guidelines concerning appropriate response strategies and emphasize the importance of privacy concerns that may result from firms' activities on SNS from a consumer behavior perspective.
Little Big Data. An evaluation of the serviceability of automated data collection for the analysis of organizational online-communication.
University of Greifswald, Germany
Methods & Data: Based on a scientific sample consisting of over 5.500 political organizations, Facebook profiles were sampled in two ways. Firstly, names of organizations were automatically fed into the Facebook search engine and the results were semiautomatically evaluated. Secondly, the sample was compared with organizations listed on Pluragraph, a wiki-like directory of over 7.000 organizations and their social media profiles. Subsequently Facebook metrics were downloaded and calculated for all identified profiles. The different samples were then compared regarding indicators for user vs. organizational activity and characteristics of organizations.
Results: First results show a correlation between primary organizational activity and primary user activity. Primary user activity in turn correlates with reactive user activity: the more frequently organizations post online and the bigger the public, the more user engagement can be expected. Though structural relationships are apparent content matters obviously. Ongoing investigation evaluates the consequences of different sampling strategies. Although organizations in the Pluragraph sample are more regional and liked higher, there is little impact on the overall relations on an aggregated level.
Added Value: The comparison of different sampling strategies in conjunction with large scaled, automated data collection, foremost serves answering the prevalent question, how user generated content and automated methods may be utilized in scientific research. Moreover our study provides insights into the distribution of user attention.