Hello, Are You Listening?!

Stakeholder Expectations of Listening in Organizational Social Media


  • Christopher C. Gearhart Tarleton State University
  • Sarah Maben Tarleton State University




Past research has suggested that organizational listening motives and strategies align with those for interpersonal listening. In this study, researchers examined how stakeholders (n = 299) rated an organizational account’s response – or evidence of listening – to social media posts.  It was expected that responses demonstrating higher levels of active-empathic listening would be rated as more appropriate and effective.  Results provide partial support for this prediction and indicate that situational contingencies can mediate the amount of active-empathic listening a response should provide. The appropriateness of organizational social media accounts using emojis, GIFs, and memes was also investigated, with about equal thirds of respondents saying they were acceptable, neutral, or unacceptable. Instances when it would be considered appropriate were to align with the style of the stakeholder’s message, in response to a positive review, to convey a stronger indication of the message, and when messaging involved friendly or happy content. Implications for organizational social media managers and future directions for research are discussed.

Author Biographies

  • Christopher C. Gearhart, Tarleton State University

    Associate Professor and Department Head
    Department of Communication Studies

  • Sarah Maben, Tarleton State University

    Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies
    Tarleton State University