Purpose – Organization legitimacy is a general reflection of the relationship between an organization and its environment. By adopting an institutional approach and defining moral legitimacy as “a positive normative evaluation of the organization and its activities”, the goal of this paper is to investigate which corporate communication strategy adopted in online social media is more effective to create convergence between corporations' corporate social responsibility (CSR) agenda and stakeholders' social expectations, and thereby, to increase corporate legitimacy. Design/methodology/approach – Using the entire Twitter social graph, a network analysis was carried out to study the structural properties of the CSR community, such as the level of reciprocity, and advanced data mining techniques, i.e. topic and sentiment analysis, were carried out to investigate the communication dynamics. Findings – Evidence was found that neither the engaging nor the information strategies lead to alignment. The assumption of the more the dialog, the more the communality seems to fail to portray the complexity of the communicational dynamics, such as the persistence of different, or simply a dialog without alignment. Empirical findings show that, even when engaging in a dialogue, communication in social media is still conceived as a marketing practice to convey messages about companies. Originality/value – This paper originally investigates organizational legitimacy in the context of social media by applying advanced data-mining techniques that allow the analysis of large amounts of information available online.
Corporate Communications, 2013, Vol 18, Issue 2, p. 228-248