Special Issue "Sustainability and Social Media"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Economic and Business Aspects of Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Giacomo Manetti
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Economics and Management, University of Florence, Florence, Italy
Interests: social and environmental accounting; stakeholder theory; corporate social responsibility; third sector; accounting history
Dr. Marco Bellucci
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Economics and Management, University of Florence, Florence, Italy
Interests: social and environmental accounting; sustainability reporting; corporate social responsibility; stakeholder engagement; dialogic accounting; non-profit and third-sector organizations; social entrepreneurship

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Given the evolving expectations of stakeholders, social and environmental sustainability is becoming a key strategy for firms and other private, public, and third-sector organizations. By empowering people with the belief that their opinion matters, social media and other online technologies have changed the way people communicate and behave online. This Special Issue aims to collect up-to-date, high-quality research articles covering a wide range of multidisciplinary aspects related to sustainability and social media. In particular, selected topics will include, but not be limited to: innovative ways organizations are using social media and online technologies to disclose their sustainability activities; features of online corporate social responsibility communication; the utilization of social media as platforms that foster greater stakeholder engagement; dialogic accounting, reporting, and communication; the openness of organizations towards new calls for democracy, transparency, and user-generated contents; the use of social media as a legitimization, greenwashing, or impression management device; potentials and challenges of social media in the context of responsible management; the opportunities for organizations to communicate or improve their sustainable business models in light of responsible consumer behaviors; contributions of social media to participation, deliberation, and critical engagement in business and society.

Papers selected for this Special Issue may also address future theoretical, methodological, and practical developments of the intertwinement between social media and sustainability, with particular reference to the most recent and innovative trends in social media and their transformation into communities where a dialogic, bidirectional, and sustainability-oriented interaction with stakeholders can occur.

 

Prof. Giacomo Manetti
Dr. Marco Bellucci
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • social and environmental sustainability
  • social media communication and interaction
  • stakeholder engagement and management
  • corporate social responsibility
  • dialogic accounting
  • online technologies and computer-mediated communication
  • user-generated contents about sustainability
  • sustainable business models and green consumer behavior
  • legitimacy, hypocrisy, rhetoric, skepticism, and credibility
  • transparency

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Article
The YouTube Marketing Communication Effect on Cognitive, Affective and Behavioural Attitudes among Generation Z Consumers
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 5075; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12125075 - 22 Jun 2020
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 5353
Abstract
YouTube (YT) is the largest online video digital channel with more than 2 billion users, and over a billion hours of YT videos are viewed every day, particularly among young consumers. YT has become a massive marketing communication platform, which serves as a [...] Read more.
YouTube (YT) is the largest online video digital channel with more than 2 billion users, and over a billion hours of YT videos are viewed every day, particularly among young consumers. YT has become a massive marketing communication platform, which serves as a medium to target the lucrative Generation Z cohort (first born in the late 1990s), and influence this generation’s infamously unpredictable purchase decision process. The main aim of this paper was to consider the effect of YouTube marketing communication (YMC) on the traditional and non-traditional attitudinal associations of response hierarchy models. A multi-stage sample technique was used and 3750 high school and college learners (aged 13–18 years old) were surveyed via self-administered questionnaires in South Africa. Structural equation modelling was utilised to consider the hypothesised attitudinal associations. The research determined that YMC had a positive influence on the hypothesised attitudinal associations, and young consumers who used YT for fewer years, logged on more frequently, spent shorter time periods on the platform, viewed higher numbers of commercials, aged 13–14 years old, and from the White population group exhibited the most positive attitudinal responses. Hence, organisations should review their strategies in order to develop more sustainable YMC owing to the heterogeneity evident among young African consumers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Social Media)
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Article
Toward the Dissemination of Sustainability Issues through Social Media in the Higher Education Sector: Evidence from an Italian Case
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4658; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114658 - 07 Jun 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 869
Abstract
Nowadays, universities play a pivotal role in building a more sustainable society, promoting sustainable development by reducing the negative impacts of their activities. Accordingly, universities have been incorporating sustainability into the different dimension of their activities (i.e., campus operations, research, teaching, and community [...] Read more.
Nowadays, universities play a pivotal role in building a more sustainable society, promoting sustainable development by reducing the negative impacts of their activities. Accordingly, universities have been incorporating sustainability into the different dimension of their activities (i.e., campus operations, research, teaching, and community engagement). Against this backdrop, the active involvement of stakeholders is a critical element, and, in this regard, social media platforms are particularly well-suited tools thanks to their inherent dialogic features. While there are several studies on the implementation of sustainability within university activities, only a few previous researches explore whether and how such institutions use social media platforms (SM) to disclose their green initiatives and engage users. Based on this, our paper aims to fill the literature gap by exploring the case of the University of Florence. To achieve this aim, we performed a content analysis of the posts published by the university on Facebook. In contrast with prior studies which found scarce use of SM to share green activities in the higher education sector, our findings reveal that the University of Florence has been using SM to disclose their sustainability initiatives. Moreover, our results suggest that most posts are related to the community engagement dimension, while previous research pointed out prevalent attention to the environmental aspect. Finally, this research reveals a low interaction level between the university and its followers, which greatly hampers the dialogic potential of social platforms themselves. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Social Media)
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Article
Urban Niche Assessment: An Approach Integrating Social Media Analysis, Spatial Urban Indicators and Geo-Statistical Techniques
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 3982; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12103982 - 13 May 2020
Viewed by 752
Abstract
Cities are human ecosystems. Understanding human ecology is important for designing and planning the built environment. The ability to respond to changes and adapt actions in a positive way helps determine the health of cities. Recently, many studies have highlighted the great potential [...] Read more.
Cities are human ecosystems. Understanding human ecology is important for designing and planning the built environment. The ability to respond to changes and adapt actions in a positive way helps determine the health of cities. Recently, many studies have highlighted the great potential of photographic data shared on the Flickr platform for the analysis of environmental perceptions in landscape and urban planning. Other research works used panoramic images from the Google Street View (GSV) web service to extract urban quality data. Although other researches have used social media to characterize human habitat from an emotional point of view, there is still a lack of knowledge of the correlation between environmental and physical variables of the city and visual perception, especially at a scale suitable for urban planning and design. In ecology, the environmental suitability of a territory for a given biological community is studied through species distribution models (SDM). In this work we have adopted the state of the art of SDM (the ensemble approach) to develop a methodology transferable to cities with different sizes and characteristics that uses data deriving from many sources available on a global scale: social media platform, Google internet services, shared geographical information, remote sensing and geomorphological data. The result of our application in the city of Livorno offers important information on the most significant variables for the conservation, planning and design of urban public spaces at the project scale. However, further research developments will be needed to test the model in cities of different sizes and geographic locations, integrate the model with other social media, other databases and with traditional surveys and improve the quality of indicators that can be derived from information shared on the Internet. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Social Media)
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Article
Utilising Enterprise Social Media for Product Innovation: The Role of Market Orientation
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3913; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093913 - 11 May 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 918
Abstract
The literature on the role of enterprise social media (ESM) utilisation in driving the innovation profiles of organisations has not provided an understanding of the mechanisms of this positive relationship. By conceptualising ESM as including internal and external social media use, this study [...] Read more.
The literature on the role of enterprise social media (ESM) utilisation in driving the innovation profiles of organisations has not provided an understanding of the mechanisms of this positive relationship. By conceptualising ESM as including internal and external social media use, this study examined the mediating role of market orientation strategies in the link between ESM use and product innovation. The results of structural equation modeling, among a sample of organisations based in South Africa, show that ESM use positively affects the market orientation strategies of companies and these have a positive effect on product innovation. While inter-functional coordination does not mediate the external social media–product innovation link, it does so in the internal social media–product innovation link. These results imply that organisations that wish to pursue product innovation (and perhaps strategies of differentiation) should use ESM, leveraging their value in knowledge generation and assimilation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Social Media)
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Article
Topic Modeling Analysis of Social Enterprises: Twitter Evidence
Sustainability 2020, 12(8), 3419; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12083419 - 22 Apr 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 921
Abstract
Social media is a major channel used for communication by professional and social groups. The text posted on social media contains extremely rich information. To capture the development of social enterprises (SEs), this paper examines the tweets posted on Twitter and searches the [...] Read more.
Social media is a major channel used for communication by professional and social groups. The text posted on social media contains extremely rich information. To capture the development of social enterprises (SEs), this paper examines the tweets posted on Twitter and searches the hashtags on the Twitter Application Programming Interface (API) that SEs deem to be the most important. The results suggest that these tweets can be divided into three content groups (strategy, impact and business). This paper expands this into four dimensions (strategy, impact, business and people) and six indicators (social, opportunity, change, enterprise, network and team) and establishes a conceptual framework of SEs. This paper aims to enhance the understanding of the pertinent issues recently affecting SEs and extract findings that can act as a reference for follow-up studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Social Media)
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Article
Understanding Potential Cyber-Armies in Elections: A Study of Taiwan
Sustainability 2020, 12(6), 2248; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12062248 - 13 Mar 2020
Viewed by 1384
Abstract
Currently, online social networks are essential platforms for political organizations to monitor public opinion, disseminate information, argue with the opposition, and even achieve spin control. However, once such purposeful/aggressive articles flood social sites, it would be more difficult for users to distinguish which [...] Read more.
Currently, online social networks are essential platforms for political organizations to monitor public opinion, disseminate information, argue with the opposition, and even achieve spin control. However, once such purposeful/aggressive articles flood social sites, it would be more difficult for users to distinguish which messages to read or to trust. In this paper, we aim to address this issue by identifying potential “cyber-armies/professional users” during election campaigns on social platforms. We focus on human-operated accounts who try to influence public discussions, for instance, by publishing hundreds/thousands of comments to show their support or rejection of particular candidates. To achieve our objectives, we collected activity data over six months from a prominent Taiwan-based social forum before the 2018 national election and applied a series of statistical analyses to screen out potential targets. From the results, we successfully identified several accounts according to distinctive characteristics that corresponded to professional users. According to the findings, users and platforms could realize potential information manipulation and increase the transparency of the online society. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Social Media)
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Article
Twitter Analysis of Global Communication in the Field of Sustainability
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 6958; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11246958 - 06 Dec 2019
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1621
Abstract
The increasing popularity of social media worldwide provides us with an opportunity to understand social, cultural, and environmental issues about people’s perception of sustainability. The article aims at identifying the main topics of communication related to hashtag # sustainability based on a communication [...] Read more.
The increasing popularity of social media worldwide provides us with an opportunity to understand social, cultural, and environmental issues about people’s perception of sustainability. The article aims at identifying the main topics of communication related to hashtag # sustainability based on a communication analysis on the Twitter network. We investigated the perception of sustainability using data from 414,926 Twitter interactions by 223,476 users worldwide. The data were recorded between April 17, 2018 and July 12, 2019. We identified Innovation, Environment, Climate Change, Corporate Social Responsibility, Technology, and Energy as key hashtags in the field of sustainability. In conjunction with this, we identified the six following communities: (1) Environmental Sustainability, (2) Sustainability Awareness, (3) Renewable Energy and Climate Change, (4) Innovative Technology, (5) Green Architecture, and (6) Food Sustainability. The usage of these communities is applicable in marketing communication as well as in the Corporate Social Responsibility activities of the given companies. The results of the analysis give the organizations a possible direction for their sustainable business model improvement via the contribution of society´s voice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Social Media)
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Article
The Truth behind the Brexit Vote: Clearing away Illusion after Two Years of Confusion
Sustainability 2019, 11(19), 5201; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11195201 - 23 Sep 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1631
Abstract
Since the referendum in 2016, Brexit has become the most controversial conundrum in the UK. This study aimed to revisit this issue by focusing on the communicative patterns of Brexit-related parties (the Conservatives, Labour, and UK Independence Party). Firstly, it attempted to provide [...] Read more.
Since the referendum in 2016, Brexit has become the most controversial conundrum in the UK. This study aimed to revisit this issue by focusing on the communicative patterns of Brexit-related parties (the Conservatives, Labour, and UK Independence Party). Firstly, it attempted to provide the conceptual backgrounds of Brexit by explaining its development process from Cameron’s pledge of an in/out referendum to the present. Subsequently, it reviewed empirical studies on Brexit in diverse areas of social science. Most empirical studies point out that British political practitioners’ perceptions about Brexit were the root cause, but they were not able to provide an overview of these perceptions. The novelty of this study lies in examining the patterns of these perceptions by focusing on communicative framings embedded in the posts created in their official Facebook pages from the date of the referendum to that of the Brexit withdrawal agreement. To extract these framings, this study adopted an automated semantic network analysis geared by NodeXL—software for data collection and visualisation. The results show that these parties emphasised that they were the only legitimate political party to solve the Brexit crisis without providing concrete solutions or measures. These parties’ ill-founded communications endanger sustainable social media communications and interactions in the UK. Hence, it is vital to establish a more reliable fact-checking information-sharing system between the political elite and the general public. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Social Media)
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Article
#Globalcitizen: An Explorative Twitter Analysis of Global Identity and Sustainability Communication
Sustainability 2019, 11(12), 3472; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11123472 - 25 Jun 2019
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1731
Abstract
(1) Background: global citizenship is often associated with pro-social and pro-environmental attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. Much of this research relies on questionnaire studies, whereas studies drawing on naturally occurring daily communications are under-used. In this paper, we analyse the content that users publish [...] Read more.
(1) Background: global citizenship is often associated with pro-social and pro-environmental attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. Much of this research relies on questionnaire studies, whereas studies drawing on naturally occurring daily communications are under-used. In this paper, we analyse the content that users publish on Twitter related to the issue of global identity and citizenship. (2) Methods: we assessed word frequencies and associated hashtags of 35,237 tweets marked with the hashtag #globalcitizen. A sentiment analysis was conducted to investigate the moods and emotions of the tweets. (3) Results: in line with expectations derived from social identity theory, we found that associated words and hashtags were more often linked to themes of common good/disadvantaged groups than they were to the topic of nature and environment. Providing evidence for an empowerment function of global citizenship, the sentiment analysis suggests that global citizenship is related to rather positive emotions. (4) Conclusion: these findings reveal how identity constructions in social media predict associated contents and possibly pathways to social change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Social Media)
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