The Effect of Twitter Use on
Politicians’Credibility and Attitudes
• As of January 2, 2011, approximately 2.39 million Koreans were Twitter users (Lee, 2011).
• Notably, Korean celebrities have influenced the rapid diffusion of social networking services (Lee, 2011).
- Kim Yun-A
- Shinsegae department store CEO Jeong Yong Jin - Doosaninfracore CEO Park Yong Man
- legislator U Si Min
- legislator Shim Sang Jeong - legislator Na Kyung Won - legislator Park Geun Hye …
• strategic communication scholars have examined - PR practitioners’use of social media tools
(e.g., Avery et al., 2010; Curtis et al., 2010; Eyrich et al., 2008) - the role of online social media in media relations
(e.g., Lariscy et al., 2009; Waters et al., 2010) - the use of social media in political campaigns
(e.g., Kushin & Yamamoto, 2010; Metzgar & Marrugi, 2009; Utz, 2009) - the use of Twitter in the communication of leading companies
Purpose of the study
•Limiting the scope of the research area to political celebrities’ social media
communication, this research aims to examine how general audiences evaluate
politicians’Twitter use, perceive the credibility of politician Twitter users’images, and evaluate politician Twitter users as individuals.
•More importantly, this study uses a structural model to examine the relationships
• Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) define social media as
“a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, which allows the creation and
exchange of user-generated content.”
• a two-way platform that allows users to construct personal identities through self-presentation and dialogue
• Blogs, intranets, podcasts, video sharing (e.g., YouTube), photo
sharing (e.g., Shutterbug, Flickr), social networks, wikis (e.g., Wikipedia), gaming, virtual worlds (i.e., Second Life), micro-blogging (e.g., Twitter, Pownce, Plurk), text messaging, videoconferencing, PDAs, instant
messaging, social event/calendar systems (e.g., Upcoming, Eventful), social bookmarking (e.g., Delicious), news aggregation/RSS, and email (Eyrich et al., 2008).
Political Campaigns &
• Metzgar and Maruggi (2009) monitored social media online during the 2008 U.S. presidential election by using Radian 6, a social media tracking tool. - Social media was an effective tool for disseminating a campaign
message and communicating promptly with those to whom the message appealed.
- Social media offers more balanced opportunities for political discourse.
• Kushin and Yamamoto (2010) concluded that young adults are more likely to
become involved in the election campaign by expressing opinions, discussing issues, and sharing information through social media.
Twitter & PR
• Micro-blogging is
“a system of communication or an Internet-based publishing platform that consists of sending short text messages with a maximum length of 140 characters through tools such as Twitter”(Xifra & Grau, 2010, p. 171)
• Twitter allowed corporations to realize dialogic communication in a new dimension (Kent & Taylor, 1998) through promoting easy interface, conserving visitors,
promoting return visits, offering useful information to various public sectors, and providing a dialogic loop.
• A core force driving Twitter use is interactivity, and the two dimensions of
interactivity, functional technological interactivity and contingent interdependent messaging interactivity, are strongly associated with individuals’involvement with Twitter (Smith, 2010).
• Ohanian (1990): celebrity credibility
- Expertise is conceptualized as the extent of a person’s knowledge, skills, and experience and to what extent he or she communicates accurate information (Hovland et al., 1953).
- Trustworthiness is defined as the extent to which an audience believes a person is capable of sincerely communicating information without prejudice (Ohanian, 1991).
- Attractiveness refers to the extent to which an audience finds a person physically attractive (Ohanian, 1991).
• Studies on the effect of celebrity endorsements on corporate advertising have
found that credible celebrities are effective in producing positive consumer
responses and encouraging favorable attitudes toward an ad/brand and intent to purchase
RQ & Hypotheses
üRQ1: Which attitude do members of the younger generation take toward
politicians’ Twitter use?
üRQ2: How do members of the younger generation perceive the credibility of
politician Twitter users?
üRQ3: Which attitudes do members of the younger generation take toward
politicians who use Twitter?
üH1: Attitudes toward the use of Twitter by politicians positively influence
perceived politician credibility.
üH2: Perceived politician credibility positively influences attitudes toward
politician Twitter users.
üH3: Attitudes toward the use of Twitter by politicians positively influence
• N = 369 (4 universities in Seoul & Busan) • Measurement
- Attitudes toward the use of Twitter by politicians (MacKenzie & Lutz, 1989): α = .94
- Perceived politicians’ credibility (Ohanian, 1990): α = .92
- Attitudes toward the politicians who use Twitter (MacKenzie & Lutz, 1989): α = .93
• Demographic information - Male: 49%
- 22 years old
- used blogs at a rate of 56.6%, YouTube at 30%, Facebook at 16.5%, Twitter at 32.5%, and other social media services at 28.2%.
- Twitter users among the participants accessed the social medium 1.2 times per day and spent approximately 30 minutes using it.
- Those who did not use Twitter showed high intent to use the social medium (mean = 6.10 out of 7).
Original ModelGood/Bad ve1 e1 1 Favorable/ Unfavorable ve2 e2 1 Positive/ Negative ve3 e3 1 V1 Attitudes toward the use of Twitter by politicians 1 t2 t3 Credibility TC attractive/ unattractive classy/ not classy sincere/ insincere reliable/ unreliable trustw orthy/
untrustw orthy not an expertexpert/
experienced/ inexperienced skilled/ unskilled 1 c2 c3 c4 c5 c6 c7 c8 ve8 e8 1 ve9 e9 1 ve10 e10 1 ve11 e11 1 ve12 e12 1 ve13 e13 1 ve14 e14 1 ve15 e15 1 Good/Bad Favorable/ Unfavorable Positive/ Negative ve16 e16 1 ve17 e17 1 ve18 e18 1 Attitudes toward the politician users 1 a2 a3 TA CA VD2 D2 1 VD3 D3 1
• RQ1: attitudes toward the use of Twitter by politicians
- good: Mean = 4.49, SD = 1.37; favorable: M = 4.46, SD = 1.39; positive: M = 4.40, SD = 1.28
• RQ2: perceived politician Twitter users’ credibility
- attractive (M = 4.49, SD = 1.30), classy (M = 4.49, SD = 1.25), sincere (M = 4.43, SD = 1.22), experienced (M = 4.31, SD = 1.22), skilled
(M = 4.28, SD = 1.21), experts (M = 4.29, SD = 1.15), reliable (M = 3.90, SD = 1.29), and trustworthy (M = 3.85, SD = 1.28)
• RQ3: evaluation of the politician micro-bloggers
- good (M = 4.35, SD = 1.28), favorable (M = 4.35, SD = 1.28), and positive (M = 4.29, SD = 1.27)
Type of Index Score in the Original Model Score in the Modified Model Acceptable Standards
CMIN/DF 7.57 2.52 Smaller than 3
RMR .088 .05 Close to 0
GFI .81 .94 Larger than .90
NFI .89 .97 Larger than .90
TLI .88 .97 Larger than .90
CFI .90 .98 Larger than .90
RMSEA .13 .06 Smaller than .08
< Table 1 > Model Fitness Index Scores
ResultsGood/Bad .33 e1 1 Favorable/ Unfavorable .24 e2 1 Positive/ Negative .25 e3 1 1.54 Attitudes toward the use of Twitter by politicians 1.00 1.04 .95 Credibility .70 attractive/ unattractive classy/ not classy sincere/ insincere reliable/ unreliable trustw orthy/
untrustw orthy not an expertexpert/
experienced/ inexperienced skilled/ unskilled 1.00 .95 .86 .85 .84 .67 .72 .71 .42 e8 1 .43 e9 1 .54 e10 1 .75 e11 1 .70 e12 1 .76 e13 1 .84 e14 1 .81 e15 1 Good/Bad Favorable/ Unfavorable Positive/ Negative .27 e16 1 .19 e17 1 .29 e18 1 Attitudes toward the politician users 1.00 1.02 .98 .39 .52 .51 D2 1 .35 D3 1 .40 .12 .37 .51 .37
Young respondents in this study did not negatively evaluate politicians’ Twitter use and images, nor did they express negative attitudes toward politicians.
à Considering its relatively short history, politicians’Twitter use and consequent image will likely be better evaluated in the near future.
• H1&2: Positive evaluation of politicians’Twitter use produced increased perceived credibility, which, in turn, positively influenced evaluations of politicians.
- Dialogic comm.: “dialogue,”open-minded, a sincere listening attitude à positive evaluation of Twitter use
à sincere, reliable, and trustworthy image
- The challenge of the new and unfamiliar communication tool
à attractive, and classy image
- The use of a technologically complicated tool
à experienced, skilled, and expert
• H3: favorable evaluations of the open communication mode associated with Twitter use directly affected participants’ evaluations of the politicians
- open dialogic comm. à positive evaluation as democratic leaders who listen to people’s opinions
• Theoretical Implications
- The use of social mediums such as Twitter facilitates effective public
relations for individuals as well as organizations.
- a need for communication scholars who study celebrity credibility to systemically extend the research area by further investigating and specifying the use of social mediums like Twitter as influential variables.
• Practical Implications
- Encourage your politician clients to adopt and use a micro-blogging service
à Enhance their credible image!
- Active use:
a. diverse, interactive functions offered in the medium (functional interactivity)
b. often responding to comments made by followers (contingent interactivity) (Smith, 2010)
à an opportunity for balanced political discourse (Metzgar & Maruggi, 2009) - Active interdependent messaging
à more favorable evaluations from young voters who perceived politicians who engaged users’comments through SNS as more credible (Utz, 2009)