CORPORATIONS, SOCIAL MOVEMENTS, AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Investigating Corporate Engagement with the Black Lives Matter Movement on Twitter
The thesis investigates to what extent corporations engage with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement on Twitter. The purpose is to facilitate a better understanding of corporate communication on social media in general, and around social movements in particular. This aim is approached through a textual analysis of 20 corporation’s communicative practices around the BLM movement on Twitter. In more detail, each corporate utterance is subjected to an operationalization of Kent and Taylor’s five components of engagement to investigate to what extent corporations engage with the BLM movement on Twitter. This method is supplemented by the normative theoretical framework of dialogue theory which accentuates a public-centered approach to corporate communication.
The investigation shows that corporations have primarily engaged with the BLM movement to an extent to which they demonstrate positive regard for the Black community’s input, experiences, and needs, and to an extent to which they communicate specific actions such as donations and policy change that benefit the Black community and the BLM movement. Corporations have generally neither engaged with the BLM movement to an extent to which they communicate whether they have engaged in an effort to understand the socio-cultural circumstances related to the BLM movement before communicating around it on Twitter, nor to an extent to which they demonstrate openness towards public feedback on ways to improve their conduct with regard to the Black community and the BLM movement.
The findings demonstrate that corporations increasingly disregard traditional norms such as control and persuasion within their communicative practices on social media. Instead, there are signs of a development towards communicative norms such as empathy, listening and mutuality. Hence, the thesis argues that corporations have not entirely adapted a public-centered approach to communication on social media, but that there are signs of a gradual development towards said direction.