social media, principles of persuasion, COVID-19


This study compared persuasive strategies of the governments of the U.S. and China during a public health crisis using social media messages. Collecting data with R and Python from two national public health sectors' official accounts on Twitter (N = 1,630) and Sina Weibo (N = 3,554), the researcher investigated how the organizations' messages reflected Cialdini's seven principles of persuasion and whether other emergent messaging patterns occurred. According to the different phases that the two countries had gone through during the pandemic, the researcher also conducted a pooled times series analysis to investigate the relationship between the frequency of daily posts and the number of daily COVID-19 positive new cases in the two countries. The study found that the principle of authority was the most often used rule by the two countries, and a combination of directive and non-directive messages was detected. The research discussed the effectiveness of Cialdini's principles in an online context and provided recommendations regarding timely responses towards the development of the disease on social media, which may also help build up the organizations' credibility in public health crises.

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