This summary is provided by the IPR Digital Media Research Center.

Given the increasing investment and attention in using social media to communicate CSR activities, this study examined CSR communication on YouTube. Specifically, this study explored how bandwagon cues (more likes/dislikes) and interaction cues (enable/disable commenting) influence the perceived source credibility assessment (i.e., trustworthiness, goodwill, and competence) of CSR information on YouTube. This study makes theoretical contributions to scholarship since it’s the first to examine interactive CSR efforts on YouTube and it provides practical suggestions how best to communicate CSR messages via interactive social media like YouTube.

A 2 (bandwagon cues: more likes/more dislikes) by 2 (interaction cues: enable commenting/disable commenting) factorial experiment was conducted. A total of 204 participants were recruited from a university in Hong Kong. In the experiment, the participants were first shown a real CSR campaign video; and after watching the video, they were shown a mock mobile interface of YouTube. Finally, their attitude toward the company’s CSR effort was measured.

Key Findings

  • YouTube CSR videos with a comment section on the interface led to a higher perceived trustworthiness of the company regardless of likes/dislikes received on the video, which further leads to individual’s attitudes toward the company’s CSR efforts.
  • When people were assigned to the negative bandwagon condition (i.e. more dislikes) with comments enabled, even comments appeared on the interfaces are somewhat negative, people would still rate the company to be more trustworthy than in the positive bandwagon condition (i.e. more likes) with the comments section disabled.
  • Participants’ CSR attitudes were strongly correlated with perceived credibility toward the company (i.e., trustworthiness, goodwill, and competence). Indeed, perceived trustworthiness was the most correlated item with participants’ CSR attitudes.

Implications for Practice
This study found that the mere absence of enabling comments caused undesirable influence on how people perceived the company and the credibility of CSR information, so the big takeaway from this study is that companies should enable comments on YouTube. Enabling commenting function on YouTube would positively influence trustworthiness among users, which also leads to more positive attitude toward the company’s CSR efforts. This is because allowing users to comment is a form of interactivity, which reflects the openness, dialogic posture, and relational personality of the company. It could also be a valuable opportunity to listen to publics’ requests and questions and to find out the reasons why there are problems existing in the CSR programs and/or communication strategies. Plus, the detrimental effects of negative comments could be offset by providing feedback in a sincere and timely manner.

Liao, M. Q., & Mak, A. K. (2019). “Comments are disabled for this video”: A technological affordances approach to understanding source credibility assessment of CSR information on YouTube. Public Relations Review, 45(5), 101840.

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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