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Public responses to employee posts on social media: the effects of message valence, message content, and employer reputation

Yeunjae Lee (School of Communication, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, USA)
Su Yeon Cho (School of Communication, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, USA)
Ruoyu Sun (School of Communication, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, USA)
Cong Li (School of Communication, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, USA)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 8 December 2020

Issue publication date: 19 May 2021

863

Abstract

Purpose

This study examines the effects of employees' personal social media posts on external publics' online engagement and offline word-of-mouth (WOM) intentions about a company. Specifically, it investigates how employee post characteristics including valence and content and employer reputation jointly influence publics' online and offline behaviors.

Design/methodology/approach

A 2 (post valence: positive vs. negative) × 2 (post content: organization-related vs. job-related) × 2 (employer reputation: good vs. bad) between-subjects experiment was conducted. Participants were asked to view a stimulus social media post created by a fictitious company employee, reflecting one of the eight experimental conditions on a random basis. After viewing, they were requested to report their online engagement intentions (i.e., “like,” “share” and “comment”) with the post and offline WOM intentions about the company.

Findings

The experimental results showed that participants expressed more “like” intentions when they viewed a positive post than a negative post. Further, they were more likely to “comment” on a job-related post as opposed to an organization-related post. In addition, a significant interaction effect between post valence and employer reputation on publics' online engagement was found, which in turn influenced their offline WOM intentions about the company.

Originality/value

This study is among the first empirical attempts to examine the effectiveness of employees' personal social media posts on external publics' online and offline behaviors. The experimental findings highlight the importance of managing employee relations from a corporate reputation perspective.

Keywords

Citation

Lee, Y., Cho, S.Y., Sun, R. and Li, C. (2021), "Public responses to employee posts on social media: the effects of message valence, message content, and employer reputation", Internet Research, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 1040-1060. https://doi.org/10.1108/INTR-05-2020-0240

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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