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Joking the rumor away: The interplay of humor and brand personality in social media crisis communication

Kerßens, L.M. (2023) Joking the rumor away: The interplay of humor and brand personality in social media crisis communication.

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Abstract:Purpose: Humor is an essential part of human interaction, and therefore also plays a role in brand-customer interactions during online crises. Current findings suggest the success of humor in crisis communication to be highly context dependent. To build upon the existing body of research and disentangle the context-dependency in this specific field of corporate communication, this paper investigates a potential interplay between humor and brand archetypes in social media crisis communication, specifically for rumor crises. Method: A 3×2 experiment was conducted to identify the impact of humor types (nonhumorous vs. aggressive humor vs. affiliative humor) and brand archetype (jester vs. sage) on consumer perceptions and to investigate a potential interplay between these two variables. Results: Results indicate that consumers’ perceptions of an organizations’ ability are generally judged by the type of organization, with sage archetypes achieving higher scores for ability. Furthermore, results show that the type of humor influenced participants reactions to the crisis response. Benevolence perceptions, however, depended on an interaction between brand archetype and humor. Jester archetypes achieved the least negative impact on benevolence with the use of affiliative humor, while sage brands did so by using non-humorous crisis responses. Conclusions: Both humor and brand archetype play an important role in disentangling the high context-dependency of successful crisis communication strategies, although effects differ between benevolence and ability perceptions. Results of this study allow practitioners to better evaluate crisis response strategies for specific contexts by providing insights on the effects of and interplay between humor and brand archetypes. Further research is, however, needed to evaluate the findings for different brand archetypes and different types of crises.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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