Language on Twitter. An analysis of (in) formality of tweets: Study on Carlsberg, LAY’s and Toblerone (FMCG industry)

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This study aimed to shed light on Twitter from a corporate communication and a linguistic perspective. The main focus was on the ‘message style framework’ (Cornelissen, 2008), a traditional tool used in strategic communication campaigns, which consists of 5 message styles – rational, emotional, symbolic association, generic and preemptive, but an extra message style – ‘No message style’ – was added in order to code tweets that did not fit into any of the style categories. The message style framework was correlated with the (in) formality level into formal (above 50%) or informal (below 50%) categories, based on Heylighen and Dewaele’s (2002) F-score (below 50% = informal; above 50% = formal). The framework was also correlated with the occurrence of atypical use of special characters, punctuation or capitalisation, also known as paralinguistic language. The framework applicability on Twitter was analysed ! in a corp us of 120 tweets, posted by 3 FMCG industry brands: Carlsberg, LAY’s and Toblerone. The relationship between the brand and the style category was tested as well. Results indicated a substantial number of tweets were placed under no message style, followed by the emotional message style. Most of the tweets were formal, but no significant relationship between the (in) formality level and the message styles was found. There was a high occurrence of paralinguistic language, but no significant relationship between the (in) formality level of the message styles and the paralinguistic language. The relationship between the message style and the brand was significant. Carlsberg posted the most tweets from almost all the message styles. The study indicated companies are yet to implement the message style framework in their online communication strategy and efficiently correlate it with the (in) formality level and paralinguistic language in order to make their online communicatio! n campaig ns as successful as the traditional ones.
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