Session Track 4

“Circular communication in a circular economy: how social media communication shapes sustainable business models”

Chairs: Deike Schulz and Niels Faber

Meaningful communication via social media is circular communication that includes (1) content, (2) dialogue, and (3) engagement (Schulz, 2018). More specifically communications based on the shared social media content, between citizens (and organizations) can influence how citizens perceive organizations (Lyon & Montgomery, 2013; Schulz, Jonker, & Faber, 2018). This process can support or damage ongoing developments in sustainable transition in society. For example, citizens may damage organizations that are in the transition to become ‘green’ when making (un) justified claims of greenwashing on social media. In addition (new) organizations have to carefully decide on their social media communication strategy. In particular, (1) which content to share and (2) how to engage with citizens through dialogue in order to introduce or support their sustainable business model and to be accepted, trusted and supported by social actors.
This session aims to explore different contexts and relationships between various actors (for example organization and other organizations, organizations and citizen and citizen with other citizens) with regard to the influence of social media communication on the development of sustainable business models. For example, we like to discuss how multi-modal and multi-layered communication approaches through social media influence sustainable business models. Those approaches are content-driven (for example text, images- and audio-visuals shared in social networks), feature dialogue (for example through supportive or harmful feedback provided by other actors – organizations and/or citizens – on the shared content), and support (dis)engagement (for example how actors support each other and become active participants or negatively influence group processes).

By exploring common theoretical ground as well as developing work that challenge our view on how social media-based communication schemes support or discredit the development of sustainable business models, we welcome theoretical and empirical contributions that discuss how social media communication influences sustainable business models.



Lyon, T. P., & Montgomery, A. W. (2013). Tweetjacked: The impact of social media on corporate greenwash. Journal of Business Ethics, 118(4), 747–757.

Schulz, D. (2018). What is meaningful (social media) communication? Working paper.NHL-Stenden University, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands.

Schulz, D., Jonker, J., & Faber, N. (2018). Outside-In Constructions of Organizational Legitimacy : Sensitizing the Influence of Evaluative Judgments Through Mass Self-Communication in Online Communities. International Journal of Communication, 12, 290–312. Retrieved from