Master’s Degree Thesis: Message Or Medium? Weighing Reactionary Differences To An Explicit Apology, Corrective Action, Or Compensation Appearing On Facebook, Twitter, Or Traditional Online Media

With the help of hundreds of people on Twitter and Facebook, I was able to complete my thesis. Here it is:

ABSTRACT

Message Or Medium?
Weighing Reactionary Differences To An Explicit Apology, Corrective Action, Or Compensation Appearing On Facebook, Twitter, Or Traditional Online Media

A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of Regis College, Weston, Massachusetts.
BY
STEPHEN SALEEBA

Social media usage has rapidly become an important part of many organizations’ plans when it comes to reacting to a crisis that results from a transgression. Despite a lack of research on the matter, many crisis management experts often assume that traditional communication tactics carry the same impact on social media as researchers have shown those tactics to have in traditional media. This study extends recent research about response messages and social media (Schultz, Utz & Göritz, 2010; Kerkhof & Beugels, 2011) by comparing two of the most popular social media forums worldwide. This research also builds on current and past research (Coombs, 2006; Coombs, 2008; Pace, Fediuk, & Botero, 2010) by comparing stakeholders’ responses to an explicit apology with their responses to similar-type expressions of regret, corrective action and compensation.

The 3 (apology vs. corrective action vs. compensation) x 3 (Facebook, Twitter-to-Facebook, online news article with response) experimental design introduced stakeholders to a fictitious supermarket facing accusations of customer overcharging. Each participant was exposed to a single condition. A pre-test/post-test design measured the increase in positive opinion of the company following exposure to that condition. Results found stakeholders’ positive opinion of the organization increased for every message and medium. It does not appear that stakeholders preferred any particular medium or message over the others. This suggests that the type of response message may be most important, whereas the specifics of the message or medium may not significantly sway stakeholders. Scholars and practitioners can use this study to better understand how to respond to a transgression through popular social media channels and traditional media.

Read: Full Thesis (.pdf)

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