Examining the impact of negative, User-generated content on stakeholders

Michel M. Haigh, Shelley Wigley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to (n=472) examine how negative, user-generated content on Facebook impacts stakeholders’ perceptions of the organization. Design/methodology/approach – At Phase 1, stakeholders’ perceptions about the organization – public relationship, corporate social responsibility, attitude toward the organization, and reputation of the organization were assessed. A week later, at Phase 2, participants were exposed to negative Facebook comments. This study employed the theory of inoculation as a way to bolster stakeholders’ attitudes to protect against attitude shift following exposure to negative, user-generated comments. Findings – Paired sample t-tests indicate stakeholders’ perceptions of the organization – public relationship and corporate social responsibility significantly decrease after stakeholders read negative, user-generated content. The pattern of means supports the idea inoculation can prevent against attitude shift. Practical implications – Strategic communication professionals should be aware of the impact negative posts can have and develop a strategy to respond to negative comments on Facebook. Originality/value – There is limited experimental research examining the impact of negative Facebook posts on stakeholders. It extends current literature and provides practitioners with some guidance on the impact of negative, user-generated content.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-75
Number of pages13
JournalCorporate Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Industrial relations
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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