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«13TH INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC RELATIONS RESEARCH CONFERENCE “Ethical Issues for Public Relations Practice in a Multicultural World” Holiday Inn ...»

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Lastly, since there is no geographic boundary on the Internet, people can easily access and even join other countries’ SNS, especially if they understand the native languages of the countries.

During the data collection process, the author found some comments that were written by people from countries other than Japan and the U.S. Particularly, BMW’s Facebook communities had several members from various countries. Some people use their native languages and others use English when they post their comments. Therefore, some comments collected from Facebook might not be written by people with individualistic and low context cultures, and there are also possibilities that some comments collected from Mixi were not written by people with collectivistic and high context cultures. At the same time, it raises an interesting question of whether people will adjust their cultural values and change their behaviors in a SNS of a country that has different cultural values with them. Future studies could look into this issue in order to increase our understanding about the influence of cultures on people’s SNS usage.



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Appendix 1: Coding Sheet

1. Use of visual oriented information: Indicate whether the comment includes visual oriented information below.

1) – Photograph: Photograph means a picture that is made by using a camera.

No / Yes 2) – Emoticon: Emoticon means those pictorial symbols forming a record or communication.

:) :-) ☆ ♥


Abbreviations such as “ lol ” are NOT counted as emoticons.

No / Yes 3) -- Others type of visual oriented information:

No / Yes

2. Disclosure of Personal Information: Indicate whether the comment includes comment writer’s personal information listed below.

1) – Gender No / Yes 2) – Age No / Yes 3) – Occupation No / Yes 4) – Information about where he/she lives No / Yes 5) – Family information No / Yes 6) – Other types of personal information No / Yes

3. Type of Comments: Indicate the type of the comments by circling one of the numbers below. If a comment contains more than two types of meaning, please choose the most salient one. Here, “related products” mean car parts, such as tires, and goods that are used for assisting the driving, such as GPS navigators.

1. Asking for advice and information The comments that ask for advice and information about the brand’s cars, related products, companies that own the brand, and shops that sell the brands’ car or provide services related to the brand’s car.

2. Offering advice and information The comments that offer advice and information about the brand’s cars, related products, the company that owns the brand, and shops that sell the brand’s car or provide services related to the brand’s cars.

3. Showing negative feeling about the brands, companies, and shops The comments that complain or criticize about the brands, the company that owns the brand, and shops that sell the brand’s car or provide services related to the brands’ cars.

4. Showing positive feeling or support for the brands, companies, and shops The comments that express positive feeling or support for the brands, the company that owns the brand, and shops that sell the brand’s car or provide services related to the brands’ cars.

5. Showing neutral feeling about the brands, companies, and shops Telling their thoughts about the brands, the company that owns the brand, and shops that sell the brand’s car or provide services related to the brands’ cars without showing any positive or negative feeling. The comments that are perceived to contain equal amount of negative and positive opinion should be included here as well. In addition, this type also includes those comments that simply state what kind of car they have.

6. Advertising something 61 – Advertising cars or related products The comments that tell people he/she wants to sell new and second hand cars of the brand and related products including car parts and goods that could be used in the car.

62 – Put wanted ads of cars from that brand or related products The comments that tell people he/she wants to buy the brand’s cars or related products 286 through the communities.

63 – Advertising other related online communities or websites The comments that ask people to join online communities or visit websites that are related to the brands.

64 – Advertising something unrelated to the brand.

65 – Others

7. Showing opinion to comments wrote by others The comments that were written mainly for showing appreciation, criticism, or other types of opinion to comments written by others.

71 – Showing appreciation for the comments written by others.

72 – Criticizing or complaining about the comments written by others.

73 – Others

8. Others 81 – Related to the brand 82 – Unrelated to the brand

–  –  –

Twitter, a micro-blogging service, is one of the fastest-growing social media that is changing the ways organizations communicate and build relationship with their stakeholders. Launched in 2006, Twitter has grown exponentially worldwide and was estimated at 75 million user accounts at the end of 2009, according to RJMetrics.com. In the United States, Twitter had 27.3 million unique visitors to its web site as of February 2010, according to Quancast.com. Public relations professionals and marketers see the growing popular Twitter community as a golden opportunity to establish and maintain relationships with various publics and stakeholders as well as networking, building credibility, trust and commitment among their “followers.” However, casual observations of many organizations’ Twitter accounts could have revealed that Twitter was often used to provide product or service information, or even to sell, in a one-way communication manner—an uncharacteristic nature of social media.

This study examines how three Fortune 100 companies (Ford, Home Depot and State Farm) used Twitter to engage with their publics to build and/or maintain relationships with them. The three companies were chosen based on their high s of engagement and influence values determined by two online analytic tools—Klout and Tweet Level. Using Hon and Grunig’s organization-public relationship as a conceptual foundation, this study examines the companies’ “tweets” to determine the extent to which they engaged with their “followers” to build trust, satisfaction and commitment.

Contents to be analyzed include a) Type of Tweets (retweet, reply, status updates); b) Categories (customer service, announcement, tips, conversation, other); c) Content message (question, response, reach out, follow up, appreciation, compliment, information, seek participation, other); and d) Mechanics (tweets with picture, video, hashtag, emoticons).

Overall, the majority (81%) of 507 collected tweets were replies or addressed to another Twitter user. Almost 13 percent were general status updates and about 6% were retweets. Half of the tweets (49.9%) were engaged in general conversations, followed by customer service (23.9%), and announcement (20.7%). Only a handful of tweets (6 out of 507) gave tips or how-to information.

Further, 23.5% of all tweets were information related, about 16% of tweets expressed appreciation or thanks to the followers, and 13.6% were answers to followers’ inquiries. Almost 16% of tweets fell into “Other” category as they pertained to miscellaneous topics.



A major aspect of effective public relations is developing relationships with publics.

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