Voices in Strategic Communication and Social Media

National Communication AssociationStrategic communication in the digital world can be advanced by quality research like that presented in a public relations division session at the National Communication Association 2011 Annual Conference in New Orleans. Practitioners might better be able to target particular demographics utilizing social media based upon the work found here.

A Strategic Framework for Targeting Generation Y via Social Media
Melissa Dodd and Shannon Campbell, University of Miami

Using Tapscott’s (2009) eight norms to define Generation Y – freedom, customization, scrutiny, integrity, collaboration, entertainment, speed, and innovation – researchers conducted a longitudinal study to assess how generation Y recieves and interprets strategic communication messages from organizations. The study suggests that generation Y’s expectations and corporate marketing practice do not match.  Practitioners overestimate the use of blogs and forums whereas generation Y privileges social networking sites [Kudos to Ms. Dodd for an engaging Prezi presentation. View it here].

An Analysis of the World’s Top 100 University Internet & Facebook Presences
Sheila M. McAllister, Monmouth University

Using the dialogic theory of public relations, Dr. McAllister assessed if and how universities are using Facebook to create online dialogue. The dialogic theory of PR has five overarching tenets – mutuality, propinquity, empathy, risk, and commitment – that organize the relationship between an organization and its publics. Kent & Taylor (1998) developed five principles to enable dialogue on the Internet: (1) usefulness of information, (2) ease of interface, (3) conservation of visitors, (4) generation of return visits, (5) “dialogic feedback loops” or opportunities for two-way communication.

The researcher assessed university websites and Facebook pages of the top 100 universities, according to US News and World Report’s 2009 list. Universities seemed reticent to incorporate dialogic feedback loops in websites or on Facebook, with less than 50% utilizing the feedback possibilities available through social networking. Instead, most are using digital media as a one-way “push” tool for information. McAllister suggests that the interactive potential is not being utilized because organizations “cannot or will not commit to dialogic communication because of the inherent risk involved.”

Digitalization and its Impacts on Publics: The Role of Digitalization on Communication Behaviors Among Publics
Alessandro Lovari, University of Siena (Italy), Soojin Kim, Kelly Vibber, and Jeong-Nam Kim, Purdue University

Researchers examined the impact of digitalization on civic conversation. To begin, they classified publics based upon the technology they used to participate in civic conversations:

    • inactive publics – do not engage in civic communication;
    • analogical publics – used only traditional media (radio, television, newspaper) to interact with civic issues;
    • hybrid or multichannel publics – use and switch between traditional and digital media to interact in civic issues; and,
    • digital publics – use only digital media to engage in civic participation.

One astounding finding was that in their survey, 85% of the interviewees fell into the inactive category. In the active publics, the analogical public was the oldest, the hybrid public was generally middle-aged, and the digital public was the youngest. The hybrid public had the highest level of civic participation, but the technology utilized made no difference in the overall level of civic knowledge. The analogical public and digital public were statistically equal in measures of civic knowledge and both were higher than inactive publics.

Effects of Corporate Online Communication on Attitude and Trust: Experimental Analysis of Twitter Messages
Ji Young Kim & Jin K. Hammick, University of Florida

Researchers assessed corporations’ Twitter use to assess relationship ties that corporations used in Twitter messages with their publics. Using a 2×3 between-subjects factorial design, researchers looked at the difference between communal and exchange messages along three levels of interactivity (high, medium, and low). The effects of these differences on participants’ attitude toward and trust in a supermarket brand. The research suggests that both the content and the function of online communication should be considered by brands. For example, customers might be more likely to build a positive attitude toward a brand that they percieve to be engaging in two-way communication.

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