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The art of engagement: dialogic strategies on Twitter

Beth Sundstrom (Department of Communication, College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina, USA)
Abbey Blake Levenshus (Department of Strategic Communication, Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 6 February 2017




The purpose of this paper is to explore how the dialogic theory of public relations can help strategic communication practitioners support and enhance the relationship between individuals and organizations.


This inquiry applied the dialogic theory of public relations by investigating leading media companies’ context-based strategic use of Twitter. Researchers conducted a qualitative content analysis of 1,800 tweets from 18 top-performing media organizations.


This study identified strategies, rooted in dialogic theoretical principles that media organizations used to engage stakeholders. Media companies employed strategies based on dialogic principles, including promoting organizations as industry and thought leaders, integrating social media, and using an interactive, synergistic organizational voice.

Research limitations/implications

These strategies support the need to expand theoretical conceptualizations and use of dialogic principles to study online communication.

Practical implications

Findings offer practical strategies for practitioners managing organizations’ Twitter communication to foster engagement. In particular, practitioners should consider organizational context and subsequent content advantages.


Findings offer practical and theoretical contributions to the debate of interactivity.



The idea for this research project emerged through a course assignment in one of the author’s advanced social media writing courses. The authors would like to thank the graduate and undergraduate students who helped advance this research project through pilot data collection and analysis. The authors would also like to thank Dr Maureen Taylor for her generous feedback on this manuscript.


Sundstrom, B. and Levenshus, A.B. (2017), "The art of engagement: dialogic strategies on Twitter", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 17-33.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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