Can an apology change after-crisis user attitude? The role of social media in online crisis management

Ying Li, Ke Yang, Jin Chen, Sumeet Gupta, Feiyang Ning

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Drawing upon the Elaboration Likelihood Model, the purpose of this paper is to examine how the characteristics of social media moderate the effect of a firm’s apology on the attitude of its customers. Design/methodology/approach: An online experiment including 360 active users of internet was employed to test the research model. Findings: Results revealed that an after-crisis apology and firm reputation both have a positive effect on after-crisis user attitude toward the firm. Furthermore, the positive effect of apology becomes stronger as online media interactivity increases, whereas the positive effect of reputation becomes weaker. Research limitations/implications: This study included only one important characteristic of social media, and experimental scenarios were limited to car recall crisis. Considering that social media has so many platforms that may have different kinds of interactivity, further studies can be conducted to figure out the most suitable social media for firms to deal with an online crisis. Practical implications: The results inform managers of the importance of after-crisis apology and firm reputation. It is worthwhile for managers to find out the levels of online media interactivity at which users focus on apology and reputation and accordingly conduct an effective online crisis management response strategy. Originality/value: This study extends the literature on online crisis management and the literature on ELM by highlighting the role of online media interactivity in influencing the persuasive effectiveness of firm’s crisis response in the context of social media.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)802-827
Number of pages26
JournalInformation Technology and People
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sept 2019


  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Interactive media
  • Persuasive technology
  • Reputation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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