Department

Communication Studies

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Chair

Angela Widgeon

Primary Subject Area

Mass Communications; Sociology, General; Business Administration, General

Keywords

Agenda Setting Theory, Social Media, Social Media Agenda Setting, The Walt Disney World, Tweets, Twitter

Disciplines

Business | Business and Corporate Communications | Communication | Communication Technology and New Media | Mass Communication | Public Relations and Advertising | Sociology

Abstract

People are seeking their news in more social environments, but very little research has been conducted on agenda setting and online environments. This thesis examined the agenda setting relationship between an organization on Twitter, @WaltDisneyWorld (i.e., The Walt Disney World) and public opinion on Twitter. The relationship was examined using Twitter's database of tweets to measure public opinion on Twitter. Since the news media is losing steam on the ability to break news, and social media is growing rapidly, this study tested the value of the agenda setting theory on social media. To this end, this thesis qualitatively examined the ability of an organization to set an agenda on social media. This thesis argued that social media, specifically Twitter, has the power to set an agenda because of its rapid growth and rapid response rate. This study tested several research questions that examined the presence of agenda setting on social media. Two content analysis were conducted - one of The Walt Disney World's Twitter and one of the public's opinion using search terms (#WDW, WaltDisneyWorld, #WaltDisneyWorld, and Walt Disney World) to identify tweets that were about the Walt Disney World. This study showed it was possible to transfer salience on Twitter - the basic essence and effect of the agenda setting theory. This study ultimately revealed that through the power of retweeting, anyone could set an agenda on Twitter. Based on the findings, this thesis proposes a new sixth phase of agenda setting, social media agenda setting.