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Researching CEO communication styles on social media

March 11, 2022

Photo of PhD student Giridhar Bojja
Giridhar Bojja 

Through a Graduate Research Initiative (GRI) grant, Giridhar Reddy Bojja is researching the upper echelon’s communications styles and their impact on organizational performance by mining psycholinguistic characteristics from social media.

A Ph.D. in Information Systems major with an analytics specialization, Bojja chose management information systems research and was inspired to find gaps in communication styles research in the organizational science domain. Through his research, he found a gap in knowledge about how CEO communication styles on social media may impact their businesses.

According to Bojja, the CEO influences strategy by communicating his or her ideas to internal and external stakeholders. Recent statistics show that CEOs spend approximately 80% of their time communicating, whether in meetings, giving public speeches, making phone calls, or everything related to speech.

It is considered one of the core management cognitive capabilities, he explained. Communication styles can impact the behavior of organizations and, ultimately, the performance of organizations.

An example of the impact of communications on social media made by CEOs would be Elon Musk. In 2015, he tweeted about an upcoming new iteration of Tesla. He only revealed the news on Twitter, and it increased their revenue by almost 20%.

“People leverage social media to create some buzz,” he said.

It can be beneficial, but it can also backfire. This inspired Bojja to look at CEOs’ communication styles over social media and their effects on company performance.

So far, he found that social media communication can increase the influence of the company by creating positive sentiment, and CEOs leverage social media to spread the message because it is open to anyone.

Bojja broke down communication styles into four different types. The first is self-revealing, meaning those statements in which the speaker shares personal information or experiences. The second is fact-oriented, which includes factual and objective statements. The third is action-seeking, which includes direct and indirect requests, suggestions, or recommendations. The fourth form is information-seeking, which is direct or indirect questions for information.

This results in a fundamental question, “what blend of communication and style will lead to better organizational performance?”

Bojja and his mentor, Dr. Jun Liu, measure performance by looking at reputational, financial, and operational performance. They use artificial intelligence-based psychology technology to analyze communication styles.

"Then we try to assess the relationship between the communication styles and company performance outcomes, " Bojja said.

This can be used for CEO profiling, recruitment, or even looking at the performance of companies.

While prior research has been conducted on writing styles based on social media data, Liu explained, it has not been related to management or other contexts. Bojja’s goal is to bring a new perspective through social media research.

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