Author: Xu, Yan
Title: Interdiscursivity, multimodality and corporate communication on social media : a social semiotic analysis of courier companies' weibo posts
Advisors: Feng, Dezheng William (ENGL)
Wu, Doreen (CBS)
Degree: DALS
Year: 2020
Subject: Semiotics
Social media -- Social aspects
Discourse analysis
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Faculty of Humanities
Pages: xviii, 309 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: Social media have reshaped the landscape of corporate communication dramatically (S. Kim, Kim, & Hoon Sung, 2014), so corporate posts have been a central site of investigation (Cvijikj & Michahelles, 2013, Dolan, Conduit, Fahy, & Goodman, 2017). The present study takes a social semiotic approach to investigate the interdiscursive and multimodal features of corporate posts on social media. Drawing upon Matthiessen's (2009, 2015) register typology, a systematic analytical framework is developed to explicate the realization of interdiscursivity by identifying socio-semiotic activities in multimodal discourse. Visual grammar (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006) is adopted in the analysis of visual realization of socio-semiotic activities. A corpus of 687 corporate posts from the five top courier companies in China are collected from Sina Weibo. The posts can be grouped into three major categories. The first and most prevalent category is Corporate Reporting Posts, which are formed by "reporting (text and image) + sharing/recreating/exploring (text)", giving rise to personalized, recreationalized and declarative reporting. The second category is Corporate Sharing Posts, which are formed by "sharing (text) + recreating (image)" and serve to personify courier brands to share values and experiences like a good friend. The last category is Corporate Promoting Posts, which are formed by "promoting (text + image) + sharing (text)/recreating (image)" and present personalized and entertaining advertisements.
In terms of visual realization, it is found that the four types of socio-semiotic activities, namely, reporting, sharing, promoting and recreating, are realized by different image types. Specifically, visual reporting is primarily realized by photos of courier staff, corporate events and relevant objects; visual sharing is realized by photos showing images representing or complementing values or experiences shared in textual messages, staff posters showing courier staff's refection, stock images creating artistic effect and textual images of inspirational messages; visual promoting is realized by advertising posters designed to visualize what can be delivered by courier service; visual recreating is largely realized by cartoon images depicting cute courier boys. By the frequent mixture of the five socio-semiotic activities, corporate Weibo posts are utilized as a multi-functional communication tool to build corporate identity, to maintain a good relationship with online followers, and to promote courier service/companies. Specifically, reporting and exploring activities function to build positive corporate identity by presenting corporate ability and corporate social responsibility, and to build positive staff identity by presenting staff achievements, delivery activities and staff's moral deeds. Sharing and recreating activities function to maintain a good relationship with online followers by personifying courier brands and creating entertainment. Promoting activities function to promote courier service and courier companies in an emotionalized or entertaining way. The research findings are significant both theoretically and practically. On the one hand, it develops a systematic framework to explicate interdiscursivity as manifested in visual resources as well as linguistic resources, furthering our understanding of this concept in multimodal discourse. On the other hand, it generates general patterns of interdiscursivity, which not only helps communication scholars categorize corporate posts in content analysis, but also provides guidance to communication practitioners for the design of corporate posts.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: restricted access

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