Use of human voice in social media can help organizations build relationships

May 18, 2011

As the proliferation of social media in society continues, companies and organizations are taking advantage of online platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to communicate interactively with their customers and the public. With this influx of new technology, many organizations are struggling to find the most effective ways to manage these user interactions to maximize the positive experience for their customers. Now, University of Missouri researchers have found that utilizing a personal human voice when communicating online leads to much higher user satisfaction ratings than impersonal communication.

"There is great value in using a when communicating and developing good relationships with the public," Hyojung Park, a doctoral candidate at the Missouri School of Journalism, said. "Perceptions of relationships with an organization seem to be significantly more favorable when the organization's page has a human presence rather than an organizational presence. Levels of trust, commitment, and satisfaction from users all appear to be positively affected by the use of the human voice in social media."

In the study, the researchers presented participants with mock social media websites of large, pre-existing for-profit and nonprofit organizations, complete with user comments and direct responses from the organizations' public relations representatives. The user comments ranged in tones from positive, negative and neutral. Some social media sites included the name and picture of the organization representative with their messages, while other social media sites only included an organizational presence on their sites with no names or pictures.

The researchers observed that the participants perceived social media websites utilizing conversational human voice much more positively than the websites with only an organizational presence online. The researchers also found that for-profit organizations were more likely to be perceived as using a conversational human voice than were the nonprofit organizations. Park believes using human voice on social media can generate important emotions within the receiving community.

"Communicating in a human voice adds a sense of personal and sociable human contact to the interaction with the public," Park said. "We have evidence that perceived conversational human voice may promote trust, satisfaction, and commitment in relationships between an organization and the public, which in turn results in favorable behavioral intentions toward an organization."

Park says the dynamic role of human presence versus organizational presence adds a new perceptive as to how organizations can take more advantage of interpersonal aspects of social media. She believes this study provides a fundamental building block for constructing a body of knowledge that can help practitioners and scholars better understand how can be used for relationship management.

Park presented the study at the International Public Relations Research Conference this past March and won the top student paper award for her work.

Explore further: New 'Surveyman' software promises to revolutionize survey design and accuracy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Interactive Web sites draw minds, shape public perception

May 25, 2008

The interactive look and feel of a corporate website could help shape positive perceptions about the organization if the site includes a likeable design and features that engage the target audience, especially job seekers, ...

Recommended for you

World population likely to peak by 2070

Oct 23, 2014

World population will likely peak at around 9.4 billion around 2070 and then decline to around 9 billion by 2100, according to new population projections from IIASA researchers, published in a new book, World Population and ...

Bullying in schools is still prevalent, national report says

Oct 23, 2014

Despite a dramatic increase in public awareness and anti-bullying legislation nationwide, the prevalence of bullying is still one of the most pressing issues facing our nation's youth, according to a report by researchers ...

Study examines effects of credentialing, personalization

Oct 23, 2014

Chris Gamrat, a doctoral student in learning, design and technology, recently had his study—completed alongside Heather Zimmerman, associate professor of education; Jaclyn Dudek, a doctoral student studying learning, design ...

User comments : 0