School of Communication and the Arts


Doctor of Philosophy in Communication (PhD)


Shannon Leinen


TikTok, Cyberbullying, Social Media Engagement, Digital Communication, Engagement


Communication | Social Media


This study analyzed TikTok cyberbullying response videos to understand how content creators use verbal and nonverbal communication within their performance, creating audience engagement and awareness for cyberbullying and social advocacy issues. This study was conducted with 200 TikTok creator accounts analyzing communication, performance, engagement, and analytics narrative content analysis. Codes were separated into themes that represented the creator's emotional responses. These responses were analyzed to learn how the audience presented the content. The combination of narrative content analysis and analytics data was used to determine the effectiveness of the creators' ability to engage with their audience and create cyberbullying and social advocacy awareness. The study found a connection between a TikTok content creator’s performance and audience engagement. The content creators with successful performances convinced their audience to engage with comments supporting anti-cyberbullying and promoting social causes. The combination of scholarly research and new media technology allows this topic to be examined through a Communications lens analyzing verbal and nonverbal communication. The research project can be helpful for academics, social advocacy groups, and those interested in TikTok content engagement.

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Social Media Commons