This study explores the relationship cultivation strategies and disaster social media functions Chinese companies used to maintain relationships with their publics during the COVID-19 pandemic. Public engagement was assessed using a multi-dimensional construct consisting of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral measures. A quantitative content analysis of 756 Weibo posts from China’s Fortune 500 companies and 553 top user comments formed a data set that was analyzed using three types of regression analysis. Results showed that both relationship cultivation strategies and disaster social media use effectively increased engagement between Chinese companies and their publics, although on different levels. Although generally underutilized by companies, the access tactic in the relationship cultivation strategies significantly predicted all three dimensions of public engagement. Emotional posts, a functional use of social media by companies, positively predicted an emotional response by publics.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
- Disaster communication
- Public relations
- Relationship cultivation strategies
- Social media