Friday, July 15, 2011

ANGRY ONLINE COMMENTS: Can derail organizations, Mizzou researcher finds

COLUMBIA, 7/15/11  (Beat Byte) -- Local government agencies pitching tax increases should listen up:  Public expressions of anger displayed on Internet sites can perpetuate negative perceptions of an organization, claims Bo Kyung Kim, a doctoral student in the University of Missouri School of Journalism who has scientifically confirmed what most people have long suspected.
Kim urges organizations to take online comments as "critical information that has a direct impact on the public in general."  The vast majority of online commenters have greeted recent local proposals for tax and fee increases with outright hostility. 
"In any fashion, organizations need to monitor their online presence closely to prevent the negative perceptions from spiraling out of control," Kim says she learned from a study that measured perceptions of four automobile corporations. 
Participants first read a news story about a crisis at each automobile corporation.  Secondly, Kim asked about their perceptions of each corporation.  Thirdly, participants were shown negative online comments from Facebook, Twitter, and other online message boards in response to each crisis.  Finally, participants were asked to respond the same questions about their perceptions of each corporation.
Negative online comments affected participants’ perceptions negatively, Kim confirmed. 
The study was co-authored by Hyunmin Lee, an assistant professor at St. Louis University and former doctoral candidate at MU.

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