Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts




Rhetoric and Professional Communication

First Advisor

Geoffrey Sauer


This study uses concepts of rhetorical agency to analyze how corporations communicate effectively or ineffectively with their customers on social media. While literature from the fields of business, marketing, and public relations has addressed corporate social media more generally, there is a lack of information about how corporations should consider rhetorical concerns when structuring messages to their customers. Technical and professional communication studies have also explored the topic of social media, but have yet to closely analyze corporate social media responses to customer complaints. To conduct this study, I combined concerns from both business and technical and professional communication to reveal how companies and customers attribute agency to one another, and how insight from these interrelated fields creates a foundation for future research involving corporate social media communication.

In this study, I analyzed two customer service Twitter accounts to determine how rhetorical agency was at work within customer complaint interactions. The findings from this analysis demonstrate that companies do not always communicate in ways that allow for mutual attributions of agency. I argue that customers and companies must be able to view one another as capable of action in order for successful communication to occur.

Copyright Owner

Katlynne Amy Davis



File Format


File Size

97 pages