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Corporate Communication Through Social Networks: The Identification of the Key Dimensions for Dialogic Communication

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Web 2.0 and the social networks have changed how organizations interact with their publics. They enable organizations to engage in symmetric dialogic communications with individuals. Various organizations are increasingly using different social media to enhance their visibility and relationships with their publics. They allow them to disseminate information, to participate, listen and actively engage in online conversations with different stakeholders. Some social networks have become a key instrument for corporate communication. Therefore, this chapter presents a critical review on the organizations' dialogic communications with the publics via social networks. It puts forward a conceptual framework that comprises five key dimensions including 'active presence', 'interactive attitude', 'interactive resources', 'responsiveness' and 'conversation'. This contribution examines each dimension and explains their effect on the organizations' dialogic communication with the publics. Hence, this contribution has resulted in important implications for corporate communication practitioners as well as for academia. Moreover, it opens future research avenues to academia.
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Chapter 3
Corporate Communication Through Social
Networks: The Identication of the Key
Dimensions for Dialogic Communication
Paul Capriotti, Ileana Zeler and Mark Anthony Camilleri
Abstract
Web 2.0 and the social networks have changed how organizations interact
with their publics. They enable organizations to engage in symmetric dialogic
communications with individuals. Various organizations are increasingly
using different social media to enhance their visibility and relationships with
their publics. They allow them to disseminate information, to participate, lis-
ten and actively engage in online conversations with different stakeholders.
Some social networks have become a key instrument for corporate communi-
cation. Therefore, this chapter presents a critical review on the organizations’
dialogic communications with the publics via social networks. It puts forward
a conceptual framework that comprises ve key dimensions including “active
presence,” “interactive attitude,” “interactive resources,” “responsiveness” and
“conversation.” This contribution examines each dimension and explains their
effect on the organizations’ dialogic communication with the publics. Hence,
this contribution has resulted in important implications for corporate com-
munication practitioners as well as for academia. Moreover, it opens future
research avenues to academia.
Keywords: Dialogic communication; corporate communication; online
conversations; social media; social networks; online visibility; online
responsiveness
3.1 Introduction
The digital media, including the Internet as well as the social media networks
have become indispensable communication tools for online users. Therefore, the
Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, 33–52
Copyright © 2021 by Emerald Publishing Limited
All rights of reproduction in any form reserved
doi:10.1108/978-1-80071-264-520211003
34 Paul Capriotti et al.
organizations are increasingly using them for corporate communication purposes
as they facilitate their dialogic and participatory communications with individu-
als and other organizations (Zerfass, Moreno, Tench, Verčič, & Verhoeven, 2017).
Initially, Web 1.0 had improved the organizations’ engagement with their publics.
However, the arrival of Web 2.0 has resulted in enhanced interactions between
the individuals and the organizations. Web 2.0 enabled the online users to adopt
a more active as they could engage with other users through the digital media
(as opposed to their passive role in Web 1.0). While Web 1.0 was unidirectional
and monological, Web 2.0 enabled bidirectional and dialogical communications
(Capriotti & Pardo Kuklinski, 2012; Schivinski & Dabrowski, 2015). Individual
users could connect with friends, family, colleagues, organizations and interact
with them (Newman, Chang, John, & Brian, 2016).
The social networks are a good example of Web 2.0 technologies. The social
media have improved the communications between the organizations and their
publics. Organizations are using them to engage in two-way communications
with their followers on social media (Camilleri, 2018a). It also enables them to
evaluate the effectiveness of their communication exchanges as they can track the
online users’ engagement, in terms of their likes, comments, shares, mentions, etc.
(Gregory & Institute of Public Relations, 1996).
Therefore, this chapter presents a critical review on corporate communication
through social networks. It puts forward a conceptual framework that comprises
ve key dimensions including active presence, interactive attitude, interactive
resources, responsiveness and conversation that are having an impact on dialogi-
cal communication in the digital era. Finally, this contribution discusses about
the implications to the practitioners and suggests future research avenues.
3.2 Literature Review
3.2.1 The Dialogic Communication on Social Networks
Web 2.0 led organizations to focus their attention on online users. This has gener-
ated a change in their communication management, as they have shifted from an
informative mainstream approach toward more conversational and dialogic com-
munication models (Capriotti, 2011, 2017). Thus, Web 2.0 is clearly epitomized
in social media platforms that are essentially based on the active participation of
their users. These technologies promote interpersonal relations, while facilitat-
ing the bidirectional and symmetric communications between organizations and
their publics, in the digital environment (Kang & Sundar, 2016).
The consolidation of the Web 2.0 involved signicant changes in the rela-
tionship between organizations and their publics. This recent development has
resulted in symmetrical interactions and negotiations in terms of clout and com-
municative power as the online users could engage with the organizations in real
time. Hence, the corporate communications have shifted toward a more dialogic
or interactive form of communication (Camilleri, 2018a, 2018b; Guillory &
Sundar, 2014; Ingenhoff & Koelling, 2009; Kent & Taylor, 1998).
The concept of dialogic communication has been part of the communication
and public relations literature for many years (Sommerfeldt & Yang, 2018). Kent
Corporate Communication Through Social Networks 35
and Taylor (1998) explained that dialogue involves interpersonal communications.
They suggested that it can be carried out online, through the Internet technolo-
gies. These authors put forward the principles for effective dialogic communica-
tions through the Internet. Their contributions on this topic have triggered the
interest of academia and practitioners. They contended that the communications
and public relations practitioners can utilize digital technologies to establish
and keep long-term interactions with their stakeholders. Their contribution has
addressed a gap in the academic literature as they focused on dialogic communi-
cations in the realms of the World Wide Web. Even though these principles were
developed to research about digital communication on websites, these principles
were swiftly adapted to other digital media, including social networks (Chen,
Hung-Baesecke, & Chen, 2020; Curtin & Gaither, 2004; Huang & Yang, 2015;
Muckensturm, 2013; Wang & Yang, 2020; Waters, Caneld, Foster, & Hardy,
2011; Watkins, 2017; Van Wissen, 2017).
Capriotti and Pardo Kuklinski (2012) dened digital dialogic communica-
tion as “an ongoing interaction between organizations and their publics by using
Internet tools, which enable information, comments, opinions, assessment and
experiences to be exchanged on a continuous basis” (p. 620). Hence, the digital
dialogic communication was considered as an important framework to build and
nurture relationships with the publics through the Internet technologies (Kent &
Taylor, 2002). The dialogic theory on the Internet entails that organizations
should not only disseminate information online, but they are expected to interact
and converse with individuals and other publics (Kent, Taylor, & White, 2003;
Taylor & Kent, 2014). Sommerfeldt and Yang (2018) afrmed that “dialogue
is foremost concerned with the attitudes held by each party in an interaction”
(p. 60). Similarly, Kent and Taylor (1998) pointed out that “a dialogic loop allows
publics to query organizations and, more importantly, it offers them the opportu-
nity to respond to questions, concerns and problems” (p. 323).
3.2.2 Social Networks as a Key Tool for Corporate Communication
Safko and Brake (2009) maintained that social networks involve “activities, prac-
tices, and behaviors among communities of people who gather online to share
information, knowledge, and opinions by using conversational media” (p. 6). In a
similar vein, Van Zyl (2009) dened social networks
as applications or web sites that support the maintenance of per-
sonal relationships, the discovery of potential relationships and
should aid in the conversion of potential ties into weak and strong
ties, by utilizing emergent Web 2.0 technologies. (p. 909)
Social networks create a new online optimal communication ecosystem for
the interactive and dialogic communication of organizations with their publics.
This interaction can initiate when organizations send information and/or con-
sult users about their activities through relevant content that is published in their
social proles or when users communicate their opinions and requirements to
organizations (Anderson, Swenson, & Gilkerson, 2016). From the organizational
36 Paul Capriotti et al.
perspective, social networks have changed the interactions between the manage-
ment and their employees (Wright & Hinson, 2017). They have also become a
key instrument for corporate communication strategies (Carim & Warwick, 2013;
Damásio, Dias, & Andrade, 2012; DiStaso & McCorkindale, 2013; Iniesta, 2012;
Lee, 2016).
The advances in the digital media enable easy access to information and at
a great speed. They allow online users, including organizations to interact with
other users (including individuals and organizations) in different contexts. For
example, the social media can generate enriching experiences to their users. This
has encouraged many organizations to use social media networks as communica-
tion tools (Linke & Zerfass, 2012). The growth of interactive technologies, their
ease of use, accessibility and popularity represent an opportunity for organi-
zations to foster greater interactions with the different stakeholders (DiStaso,
McCorkindale, & Wright, 2011).
Zerfass et al. (2017) noted that the online dimension is top on the list of com-
munication channels. They estimated that social networks will further increase
their presence as a communication tool in organizations. The social media plat-
forms are increasingly being used by organizations, including businesses to raise
awareness about their products or to engage with online users (Camilleri, 2017).
Montero (2013) noted that organizations are using Facebook or Twitter to inter-
act with their subscribers.
The social networks are an instrument that can be used to improve the organi-
zations’ visibility, dialogue, participation in discussions and active listening.
Social networks allow their users to create individual proles, groups or pages.
The pages may include links to websites, contact information, location, etc. The
social media provide new marketing possibilities to their users as they can reach
larger audiences. They can enable them to establish virtual relationships with
individuals as well as with the publics. Previous studies conrmed that social net-
works are being used for promotion and advertising, branding, corporate social
responsibility (CSR) communications, dissemination of research ndings and
direct interactions with online users (Camilleri, 2018b, 2019; Cortado & Chal-
meta, 2016; Parveen, Jaafar, & Ainin, 2014). The social networks are a strategic
tool for the organizations’ dialogic communication and have revolutionized the
way how organizations interact with their stakeholders (Capriotti & Pardo Kuk-
linski, 2012; Chung, Andreev, Benyoucef, Duane, & O’Reilly, 2017).
The organizations are using social media to engage with individuals and the
publics. Almost 80% of Internet users access social networks (Kemp, 2019). Their
main motivations to use the digital media are triggered by their social connec-
tions, shared identities, pictures, content, social research, social network and sta-
tus updates, entertainment, social interactions and information exchanges, among
other issues (Avidar, Ariel, Malka & Levy, 2013; Jung & Sundar, 2016; Valentini,
2015). This shows that online users have a great interest in creating and sharing
content, as well as in interacting on the content that is shared by other users on
social networks. Therefore, there is scope for organizations to be present within
social networks as it enables them to engage in dialogues with online users (Safko &
Brake, 2009). These organizations are highly exposed to the word-of-mouth
Corporate Communication Through Social Networks 37
publicity and user-generated content. It is very likely that individuals would
actively engage in online conversations through the social networks and/or review
sites. Hence, they can share their opinions and insights about their experiences
with specic organizations. They may even become inuencers as they use social
networks to share information about products and/or services with other users.
Various digital platforms, including Trip Advisor, Booking.com and Yelp,
among others, have incorporated reviews and ratings in their sites. Of course,
they need to ensure that their content is accurate, reliable and credible (Camilleri,
2018a; Tench, Verčič, Zerfass, Moreno, & Verhoeven, 2017). The online platforms
should undertake all reasonable measures to ensure that the individual reviews
reect the real users’ opinions and experiences. While it is not always easy to ver-
ify the authenticity of user-generated content, the digital platforms should have
quality control mechanisms and certain processes to ensure that their reviews are
clear and truthful for the benet of the online users who read them.
3.2.3 Evaluation of Social Networks in Corporate Communication
The organizations ought to evaluate the effectiveness of their corporate commu-
nications including their online and interactive messages through social networks.
Marca Franc (2011, p. 58) insisted that the planning models must include ongo-
ing evaluations of the organizational communications with stakeholders. They
should measure whether their corporate communications were successful or not,
in terms of achieving their underlying objectives.
The communication management between organizations and their publics on
social networks involves the need for tracking and assessing the communication
processes. Some studies demonstrate that a consistent use of social networks is
key to improve the effectiveness of communication departments (Capriotti, 2011;
Zerfass, Verčič, Verhoeven, Moreno, & Tench, 2019). For example, Kent and
Saffer (2014), Linke and Zerfass (2013) as well as Tench, Moreno, Navarro and
Zerfass (2015) suggested that the correct use of social media is very important
to better understand and to respond to the consumers’ expectations. However,
a recent research by Navarro, Moreno and Al-Sumait (2017) who combined the
European Communication Monitor study (ECM) with the Ketchum Leadership
Communication Monitor (KLCM) showed that the communication profession-
als make their decisions (about what content to publish and which activities to
carry out on social networks) based on their perceptions, rather than on their
analysis of the needs of their publics. So, there is still a gap between the perspec-
tives of communication professionals and the expectations of the publics in terms
of the content that organizations should offer and the activities that should be
undertaken, in the context of social platforms.
Hence, organizations should regularly assess their dialogic communications’
plans. It provides them with an opportunity to reevaluate their digital com-
munication strategies, to identify what communications approaches are being
promoted by other organizations on social networks and to determine what is
their level of involvement in their online conversations in these platforms. These
digital spaces are increasingly being fed with new information from online users.
38 Paul Capriotti et al.
They are publishing their content and engaging in conversations in various
social media, in real time. In recent years, the effectiveness of dialogic commu-
nication through social networks has been evaluated through different meth-
odologies and in different organizational contexts. For example, Waters et al.
(2011) as well as Wang and Yang (2020) have examined the use of Kent and
Taylor’s dialogic principles of communication on Facebook and Twitter pro-
les of nonprot and for-prot organizations. D. Kim, Kim and Nam (2014)
as well as Aced-Toledano and Lalueza (2018) have assessed the use of dialogic
potential by companies on social media. Romenti, Valentini, Murtarelli, and
Meggiorin (2016) have investigated the quality of dialogic conversations among
companies and their publics on social media. Auger (2013) analyzed the two-
way symmetrical or two-way asymmetrical communication of nonprot organi-
zations on Twitter. Park and Kang (2020) and Camilleri (2016) explored the
role of dialogic communication of positive CSR behaviors. Moreover, Okazaki,
Plangger, West, and Menéndez (2019) have studied the potential of strategic
CSR communications through Twitter.
These theoretical underpinnings suggest that it is in the organizations’ interest
to regularly evaluate their digital communication since they can be in a position
to review their communication strategies and tactics. This way, they may imple-
ment the necessary changes in their communication plans and to identify alterna-
tive courses of action (Gregory & Institute of Public Relations, 1996).
3.3 Key Dimensions to Evaluate Dialogic Communication
The relevant academic literature suggests that there is dialogic communication
between the organizations and the online users (e.g., their followers on social
media), when both parties are willing to establish a communicational exchange
(Kent & Taylor, 2002; Taylor & Kent, 2014). This may result in a fruitful dialogue
Presence Active
Presence
Predisposition
to Interaction
Dialogic
Communication
Activity
Informational Interactive
Attitude
Interactive
Graphic resources Interactive
Resources
Audiovisual Resources
Hypertextual Resources
Support Responsiveness Effective
Interaction
Virilization
Intensity Conversation
Reciprocity
Fig. 3.1. Key Dimensions of Dialogic Communication Through Social Media
Networks.
Corporate Communication Through Social Networks 39
when the organizations respond and engage with the online users on social media
platforms. There are two main dimensions that can determine the effectiveness of
dialogic communications through social networks: the organizations’ “Predispo-
sition to Interaction” and their “Effective Interaction” with the publics. The rst
one includes three determinants: “Active Presence,” “Interactive Attitude” and
“Interactive Resources.” The second has two determinants: “Responsiveness”
and “Conversation” as reported in Fig. 3.1. Thus, the researchers have identied
ve key dimensions that are inuencing the effectiveness of dialogic communica-
tions through social networks (see Fig. 3.1).
3.3.1 Predisposition to Interact in Social Networks
The basis for dialogic communication lies in the subjects’ (i.e., the organizations’
and the online users’) readiness and willingness to interact with one another.
A consistent digital presence and an ongoing dialogue with online users via social
networks can help organizations to reinforce their stakeholder relationships.
The organizations’ active presence and their interactive content can facilitate the
online users’ engagement and may foster two-way conversations (Eberle, Berens, &
Li, 2013). Their predisposition toward online interactions through social media
networks involves three core dimensions: the active presence (that necessitates
a continuous online activity that facilitates interaction), the interactive attitude
(that manifests the willingness to interact) and the interactive resources (this
includes the resources that are used to disseminate content that is intended to
promote interaction). Hence, a higher predisposition of organizations toward
interaction on social networks is based on a greater level of these three dimen-
sions (active presence, interactive attitude and interactive resources).
3.3.1.1 Active Presence. The active presence suggests that maintaining a con-
sistent presence and activity in social networks increases the possibility of gen-
erating conversations with users (Bezawada, Rishika, Kumar, & Janakiraman,
2013). The companies can use the social networks as a vehicle to promote their
online content including live broadcasts, podcasts, recorded videos, images and
stories. It also allows them to create events, conduct surveys and to engage with
online users in real time. Their active presence on social networks enables them
to respond and interact with the different publics. The more active their online
presence, the higher the likelihood of generating interactive conversations with
individuals and organizations. Therefore, a rst key dimension is measuring the
organizations’ active presence, by identifying whether they have an interactive
presence in social networks and to determine what is their level of activity.
The “active presence” analyzes the active and consistent use of social networks
that enable, facilitate and encourage online users to share the organizations’ infor-
mation with others. Therefore, the organizations’ “active presence” comprises two
variables: (a) the level of presence: to determine whether companies have ofcial
corporate proles on social networks; and (b) the level of activity: to analyze the
weekly and daily average of publications of organizations on the social networks
(e.g., posts and updated statuses). A greater active presence would involve a
higher predisposition toward interaction.
40 Paul Capriotti et al.
Several authors agree that social networks are increasingly being incorpo-
rated in corporate communication plans as organizations can use these channels
to spread content, practice active listening, take part in online conversations,
thereby engaging with online users and building a relationship with them (Bor-
tree & Seltzer, 2009; Castillo-Esparcia & Smolak Lozano, 2013; Chu, 2011; Neill
& Moody, 2015; Rodríguez Fernández, 2012; Waters, Burnett, Lamm, & Lucas,
2009). Other authors contend that the organizations’ presence on social networks
ought to be part of their communication strategy (Losada-Díaz & Capriotti,
2015; Viñarás Abad & Cabezuelo Lorenzo, 2012). The practitioners themselves
are well aware that there is scope in using social networks in order to enhance
their organizations’ communications with stakeholders (Wigley & Zhang, 2011).
Cohen (2015) maintained that it is difcult to quantify the most effective fre-
quency of social media posts. If the organizations post too frequently, they risk
annoying their followers, while if they post infrequently, their audience may for-
get that they exist. Various experts, including Capriotti and Ruesja (2018), Jor-
dan (2017), Myers (2019), Patel (2016), Shane (2018), Social Report (2018), Zeler
and Capriotti (2017), and Zeler, Oliveira and Malaver (2019), among others, have
put forward their recommendations about the most appropriate publication fre-
quency in different social networks. For example, Kemp (2019) suggested that the
posting frequency in Facebook should be between one and two posts per day, in
Twitter between three and ve tweets per day, in YouTube between one and two
videos per week and in Instagram between one and two posts per day.
Different studies have reported a huge disparity in terms of the outcomes about
the presence and activity of organizations on social networks. Some research-
ers indicated that the activity of organizations on social networks reaches a fre-
quency of less than one post per day (Devaney, 2015; Losada-Díaz & Capriotti,
2015; Quintly, 2016; Statista, 2017). Conversely, others found that companies are
publishing at least one post per day (Estudio de Comunicación, 2017; S. Kim,
Kim, & Hoon Sung, 2014). This disparity in the results is because the researchers
may have explored different contexts. Alternatively, they could have used different
methodologies and sampling frames to investigate the organizations’ activity on
social media networks.
3.3.1.2 Interactive Attitude. The interactive attitude is focused on the need to
promote actions and content that can enhance online conversations with online
users (Safko & Brake, 2009). The organizations may encourage their online fol-
lowers to cocreate content or simply to share their positive experiences with oth-
ers and to engage in positive word-of-mouth publicity. They are in a position to
foster dialogic, two-way communications on social networks in order to build
their reputation and trust from their publics (Camilleri, 2015, 2018b). At the same
time, they can demonstrate that they care to respond to their stakeholders’ que-
ries or concerns.
Therefore, a second key dimension involves measuring the interactive attitude,
by examining the organizations’ communication approaches on social networks.
The organizations’ “interactive attitude” is based on two approaches: (a) informa-
tive approach: this refers to the creation and presentation of informative con-
tent, and such content is descriptive/expository and encourages unidirectional
Corporate Communication Through Social Networks 41
communications; (b) interactive approach: this refers to the creation and dissemi-
nation of content that is intended to trigger conversations and the exchange of
information. Hence, interactive approaches facilitate two-way communications
(as online users are motivated to participate in online discussions, to disseminate
viral content, subscribe to particular activities, share their reviews, opinions and/
or recommendations, answer questions, etc.). The interactive approaches necessi-
tate that the organizations’ demonstrate a higher predisposition toward interact-
ing with the publics.
Several authors (Bortree & Seltzer, 2009; Diga & Kelleher, 2009; Eyrich, Pad-
man, & Sweetser, 2008; Muckensturm, 2013; Wang, 2015) emphasize that social
networks promote dialogic communications, which in turn could improve the
relationships with stakeholders. Various studies have reported that many organi-
zations are already using the Internet for corporate communication purposes, as
they disseminate information about their business with their publics through cor-
porate websites (Kent & Taylor, 1998; Moreno & Capriotti, 2006), blogs (Seltzer &
Mitrook, 2007) and social networks (Bortree & Seltzer, 2009; Ji, Li, North, & Liu,
2016; Pace, Buzzanca, & Fratocchi, 2014; Waters et al., 2009). Their bidirectional
communication is possible as long as there are ongoing conversations and a regu-
lar dialogue with stakeholders (Valentini, 2015). For this to happen, it is necessary
to share relevant content that appeals to the targeted audiences. This way, the
corporate communication messages will result in increased stakeholder engage-
ment and may inspire further interactions with the publics (Abitbol & Lee, 2017).
3.3.1.3 Interactive Resources. The interactive resources include those resources
that are required to produce relevant, interactive content (Zeler & Capriotti,
2018, 2019). Theunissen and Wan Noordin (2012) maintain that successful organ-
izations design appropriate dialogic environments that are intended to facilitate
stakeholder engagement. Their corporate communications can be presented
through different media including written content and graphics through printed
materials, hypertexts and/or audiovisual formats that can be accessed through
digital and mobile technologies, etc. Anderson et al. (2016) noted that the com-
munication experts were using writing skills to build relationships with their pub-
lics. The author argued that the corporate communication content ought to be
relevant, concise and easily understood by online users. The organizations’ crea-
tive messages may include certain keywords that appeal to their followers, to fos-
ter their interaction (Abitbol & Lee, 2017). Hence, online users may be intrigued
to engage in conversations through their comments and replies.
Therefore, a third key dimension is to measure the interactive resources, by
studying the information resources used by organizations to spread their content
on social networks. The “interactive resources” are a key dimension for corporate
communication, as organizations use them to convey information to their publics.
Organizations rely on the usage of interactive resources to spread their content to
their audiences. The interactive resources, including the social networks can be used
to facilitate the interaction and dialogue with online users. The social media enable
the exchange of information as they can feature different formats. These formats
may usually be combined within the same message. For example, the communica-
tion formats include (a) graphic resources: these are composed of xed images, texts
42 Paul Capriotti et al.
and emojis, and such resources may be used to foster the dissemination of informa-
tion in a mono-logic manner; (b) audiovisual resources: these include videos, pod-
casts and/or animated images (GIFs), and such resources have potential to reach
greater audiences because they have a greater capacity to appeal to the individu-
als’ emotions (as they can increase their attention span); (c) hypertextual resources:
these comprise links, hashtags and user tags, and they include resources that can
trigger the exchange of information. Online users may be enticed to participate,
interact and engage in online conversations. The greater access, ease of use and
availability of hypertextual and audiovisual resources have led many organizations
as well as individuals to use these formats and to present them in social networks.
A few studies indicated that there is a signicant increase in individuals
who are watching videos online and/or via social networks. According to the
GlobalWebIndex (Valentine, 2017), more than 90% of Internet users watch online
videos every month (Smith, 2017), and more than 50% watch videos on the main
social networks. These ndings represent an increase of almost 20% when com-
pared to the previous year. Valentine (2017) posited that the social media networks
have been augmented with the audiovisual resources. The authors argued that the
videos add value to the social network strategies as they provide greater levels of
engagement. Hence, organizations are encouraged to use the videos to enhance
their corporate communication messages (Pletikosa Cvijikj & Michahelles, 2013).
Currently, we are witnessing an exponential growth in the use of audiovisual
resources that are posted on social networks (this may be due to the increase in con-
nection speeds coupled with the technological improvements of the mobile devices).
However, a review of the relevant literature reported that the xed image is still
the most used resource among organizations (Luarn, Lin, & Chiu, 2015; Twenge,
Martin, & Spitzberg, 2019; Waters et al., 2009). A few studies found that institu-
tional websites were posting more images in social media posts rather than videos
and links (Capriotti, Carretón, & Castillo, 2016; McCorkindale, 2010). These nd-
ings suggest that organizations are using their available resources to publish visual
(graphic) content. Some practitioners were not utilizing other formats including
interactive, audiovisual resources, in their corporate communication. These latter
resources could improve the organizations’ engagement with online users.
3.3.2 Effective Communicative Exchange in Social Networks
The effective communicative exchange involves continuous interactions between
the organizations and the online users, and among the online users themselves,
within social networks. The successful dialogic exchanges rely on the parties’
responsiveness as well as on ongoing conversations (Anderson et al., 2016; Kiousis,
2002; Rafaeli, 1988; Walther, Deandrea, Kim, & Anthony, 2010). Thus, the com-
municational exchange between the organizations and their publics is dependent
on various forms of interactive engagement (e.g., likes, comments, follows, tag-
ging, mentions with hashtags, group memberships, etc.). The greater implementa-
tion of the conversational exchange will represent a higher level of interaction.
3.3.2.1 Responsiveness. The responsiveness is evidenced when the recipients
react to the communications that they receive. This is usually demonstrated when
Corporate Communication Through Social Networks 43
there is a response or reply (from the part of the recipient of the information) to
an original message. For example, the “likes” and “shares” of the social media
networks would clearly indicate the online users’ responsiveness to the organiza-
tional communications (Anderson et al., 2016; Macnamara, 2014). The likes sug-
gest that the individuals are (somehow) appreciating the posted content (within
social media), albeit in a passive manner. Recently, Facebook has introduced
other features in addition to its popular like function, including love, care, haha,
wow, sad and angry emojis. Similarly, LinkedIn has included the like, celebrate,
love, insightful and curious emojis. Yet, these forms of communication do not
involve any verbal expression from the social media users. On the other hand,
when individuals share posts (and links) of organizations, or of third parties in
their prole, they become volunteer spokesmen for them as they promote their
content (Abitbol & Lee, 2017; Cho, Schweickart, & Haase, 2014). Therefore, a
fourth key dimension is to measure responsiveness, by studying the rate of sup-
port and viralization generated by organizations on social networks.
Organizations are encouraged to measure their social media users’ responsive-
ness to their digital content that they share via social networks. For instance, indi-
viduals may exhibit different “levels of responsiveness” toward the organizations’
posts through social media platforms. Their degree of responsiveness may be
evaluated by the social media users’ engagement, in terms of: (a) rate of support:
obtained from the average of total likes by company and post in relation to the
number of followers of companies; and (b) rate of viralization: obtained from the
total average of shares by company and post in relation to the number of compa-
nies’ followers. Hence, organizations can use these quantitative measures to better
understand the level of responsiveness to their social media activity.
3.3.2.2 Conversation. The conversation dimension involves interactive commu-
nicative exchanges between two or more parties. The recipients of the communica-
tion interact with the communicator and engage in conversations. For example,
online users can dialogue and exchange their insights with organizations through
the social networks (Anderson et al., 2016; Kiousis, 2002; Walther et al., 2010).
The conversation on social networks is usually manifested through “comments.”
The comments are the most genuine expression of the online users’ interaction on
social networks. They are considered as most relevant element as they provide a rich
source of qualitative data to organizations. They require much more commitment
than likes and shares, as organizations are expected to respond to the social media
users’ comments and to engage in direct conversations with them. Hence, online
conversations facilitate the communicative exchange between the organizations and
the publics (Abitbol & Lee, 2017; Cho et al., 2014). Therefore, a fth key dimension
analyze the rate of conversation generated by organizations on social networks.
The digital conversations provide qualitative insights to organizations about
their followers or other online users. The organizations may capture and analyze
the interpretative content of online users through social media posts and com-
ments. The quantitative measures may include (a) intensity: this refers to the total
general number of exchanges between an organization and their publics, based on
the rate of comments; and (b) reciprocity: this refers to measuring whether there
is equitable communication between an organization and its followers, analyzing
44 Paul Capriotti et al.
the level of balance in the exchange between an organization and its publics,
obtained from the total percentage of comments made by users and companies.
Thus, the more balanced the communicational exchange between an organization
and its publics, the greater the quality of the interaction. And the more imbal-
anced the communicational exchange between an organization and its publics,
the poorer the quality of interaction. Thus, it is in the interest of organizations to
maintain a balanced communicational exchange with their publics.
3.4 Conclusions and Future Research
The Internet has had an impact on many aspects of organizational structures
and processes. It has affected how organizations and stakeholders communicate
with one another. The digital media including social media have provided oppor-
tunities and costs for corporate communication. The organizations are encour-
aged to continuously monitor online conversations and to engage in dialogic
communications via social media networks. This way can nurture relationships
with individuals and other organizations. To do so, they need to enhance their
predisposition toward social networks and to effectively engage with their users.
The dialogic approach of digital communication necessitates that organizations
are visible in the social networks through regular posts and updates. They are
encouraged to disseminate useful information as well as interactive content that
appeals to their followers. Organizations may use written content, images as well
as audiovisual material, including videos, podcasts, etc., to engage with their pub-
lics. Their corporate communication may result in interactive engagements and
online conversations from the part of the social media users. Thus, it is in organi-
zations’ interest to remain vigilant on the content that is being posted on their
social media pages and to respond to comments and/or negative word-of-mouth
publicity, in timely manner.
The digital media is affecting how organizations engage with their stakeholders
(Sommerfeldt & Yang, 2018). There are several organizations that are very good
at managing their dialogic communications through social networks; however,
there are other laggards that have not embraced these technologies. One of the
main reasons for this is that they may lack the slack resources in terms of time as
well as dedicated members of staff, to implement effective dialogic communica-
tion with their publics (Sommerfeldt, Kent, & Taylor, 2012). Alternatively, they
may not have the digital skills and/or language competencies to interact with their
followers through the social media networks (Kent & Saffer, 2014).
This chapter has built on previous theoretical underpinnings relating to corpo-
rate communication and digital media. At the same time, it has addressed a gap in
the academia as it puts forward a conceptual framework that sheds light on the fac-
tors that can affect the successful execution of dialogic communications through
social networks. In sum, this contribution posits that there are ve key dimen-
sions including “active presence,” “interactive attitude,” “interactive resources,
“responsiveness” and “conversation.” It implies that these dimensions ought to
be considered by corporate communication practitioners as well as academia. In
conclusion, the authors call for further research on the organizations’ dialogic
Corporate Communication Through Social Networks 45
communications through the digital media. There is scope to investigate the rela-
tionships between the ve dimensions that were identied in this contribution.
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