Connecting the dots: A longitudinal observation of relief organizations’ representational networks on social media

Chih-Hui Lai*, Bing She, Chen-Chao Tao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


In response to the call in the public relations research to examine organizations’ relationship building beyond dyadic organization-public ties, this study employs a multidimensional network approach to understand relief organizations’ relationship building through different features of social media. Unlike the organizations studied in the existing public relations research, relief organizations often incorporate emergency or disaster response as part of their mission operations. Specifically, this study focuses on the organizations involved in the response actions after Typhoon Haiyan. Analysis of 66 relief organizations’ network data on Twitter and Facebook shows that organizations’ multiple types of relationships in the form of interorganizational representational networks constructed through different features of social media are closely linked during and immediately after Typhoon Haiyan. However, organizations’ positional centrality stays persistent across these networks over time, which suggests both constraints and opportunities for organizations to build relational advantages through distinct features of social media. Findings of this study show the usefulness of a multidimensional network approach in revealing the hidden patterns behind organizations’ communication behavior on social media. In doing so, this study offers more comprehensive explanations for organizations’ relationship building and relational outcomes through social media use.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)224-234
Number of pages11
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2017


  • Disaster response
  • Public relations
  • Relief organizations
  • Social media
  • Social network analysis
  • Technological affordances


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