How Millennials are Engaging and Building Relationships with Organizations on Facebook

Tina McCorkindale, Marcia W. DiStaso, Hilary Fussell Sisco


More than half of Facebook’s 900 million active users in the U.S. consist of the Millennial generation (ages 13 to 29). With more organizations taking advantage of the site’s reach, determining how organizations are interacting with Millennials on Facebook is important.  This study used qualitative focus groups and a quantitative survey to examine how Millennials preferred to interact and engage with organizations on Facebook. Results found participants were not opposed to interacting with organizations on Facebook, but were very specific in terms of how, with who, and why they wanted to engage. While Millennials did want updates and other information depending on the type of organization or group, they also wanted discounts or other benefits. Millennials identified reasons why they would actively terminate the relationship with an organization.


Millennials; Facebook; social media; social networking sites; relationships; public relations; engagement; communication-privacy management

Full Text:



Abraham, A. (2011). Why millennials matter to every brand. Retrieved on February 15, 2011 from (2012). Retrieved on May 23, 2012 from

Argenti, P. (2011). Digital strategies for powerful corporate communications. The European Financial Review. Retrieved on March 13, 2011 from

Barnes, N. G., & Mattson, E. (2009). U.S. charities’ adoption of social media outpaces all other sectors for the third year in a row, University of Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research, Retrieved from Society for New Communications Research on March 3, 2011 from

Barnes, N. G. (2010a). The Fortune 500 and social media: A longitudinal study of blogging, Twitter, and Facebook usage by America’s largest companies. Retrieved from Society for New Communications Research on March 6, 2011 from

Barnes, N. G. (2010b). The 2010 Inc. 500 update: Most blog, friend, and tweet, but some industries still shun social media. Retrieved from Society for New Communications Research on March 6, 2011 from

Bruning, S. D., & Ledingham, J. (1999). Relationships between organizations and its publics: Development of a multi-dimensional organization-public relationship scale. Public Relations Review, 25(2), 157-170.

Bulmer, D., & DiMauro, V. (2009). The new symbiosis of professional networks: Social media’s impact on business and decision-making. Retrieved from Society for New Communications Research on March 6, 2011 from

Casserly, M. (2011, January, 5). The new pay gap: Boomers, Gen-X and Millennials. Forbes. Retrieved March 22, 2011 from

DiStaso, M. W., & Bortree, D. S. (2012). Multi-method analysis of transparency in social media practices: Survey, interviews and content analysis. Public Relations Review, 38(3), 1-10.

ExactTarget (2010). Facebook X-factors. Retrieved March 20, 2011 from

Facebook. (2011). Facebook press room. Retrieved on March 14, 2011 from

Facebook. (2012). Facebook press room. Retrieved on May 23, 2012 from

Fussell Sisco, H., & McCorkindale, T. (2011). Communicating “Pink”: An analysis of the communication strategies, transparency, and credibility of breast cancer social media sites. Paper presented at the International Public Relations Research Conference, Miami, FL.

Ganster, L., & Schumacher, B. (2009). Expanding beyond our library walls: Building an active online community through Facebook. Journal of Web Librarianship, 3, 111-129.

Hargittai, E. (2007). Whose space? Differences among users and non-users of social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 14.

Henderson, A. (2010). Authentic dialogue? The role of ‘friendship’ in a social media recruitment campaign. Journal of Communication Management, 14(3), 237-257.

Holtz, S., & Havens, J. C. (2009). Tactical transparency: How leaders can leverage social media to maximize value and build their brand. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Katz, E., Blumler, J. G., & Gurevitch, M. (1973). Uses and gratifications research. Public Opinion Quarterly, 37(4), 509.

Kent, M. L., & Taylor, M. (1998). Building dialogic relationships through the World Wide Web. Public Relations Review, 24(3), 321–334.

McCorkindale, T. (2010, Summer). Can you see the writing on my wall? A content analysis of the Fortune 50’s Facebook social networking sites. Public Relations Journal, 4(3), Retrieved from

McCorkindale, T. (in press). Twitter me this, Twitter me that: A quantitative content analysis of the 40 Best Twitter Brands. Journal of New Communications Research.

McQuail, D. (2005). McQuail’s Mass Communication Theory (5th ed.). London: Sage.

O’Brien, E. (2010, March 11). Online reputation is essential: Sanofi-Aventis fake Facebook page has 3,783 fans. Retrieved March 20, 2011 from

Orrell, L. (2009). In economic crisis, think of the next generation. Strategic Communication Management, 13(2), 7-7.

Papp, R. (2009, April). Virtual worlds and social networking: Reaching the Millennials. Journal of Technology Research. Retrieved on March 2, 2011 from

Park, N., Kee, K., & Valenzuela, S. (2009). Being immersed in social networking environment: Facebook groups, uses and gratifications, and social outcomes. CyberPsychology & Behaviors, 12(6), 729-733

Pempek, T. A., Yermolayeva, Y. A., & Calvert, S. L. (2009). College students’ social networking experiences on Facebook. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30, 227-238.

Pew Internet & American Life Project. (2010, February 3). Social media & mobile internet use among teens and young adults. Retrieved on March 6, 2011 from

Pew Research Center. (2010, February 24). Millennials a portrait of generation next. Retrieved March 22, 2011 from

Phillips, C. (2010, April 25). Millennials tech-dependent, but not necessarily tech-savvy. Retrieved from Millennial Marketing on March 14, 2011 from

Rawlins, B. (2009). Giving the emperor a mirror: Toward developing a stakeholder measurement of organizational transparency. Journal of Public Relations Research, 21(1), 71-99.

Roberts, S., & Roach, T. (2009). Social networking web sites and human resource personnel: Suggestions for job searches. Business Communication Quarterly, 72(1), 110-114.

Rubin, A.M. (2002). The uses and gratifications perspective of media effects. In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann (Eds.) Media effects: Advances in theory and research, 525-548.

Santovec, M. (2006). Using online networking to engage and retain students. Recruitment & Retention, 20(3), 1-5.

Shear, B. (2010, January 8). The legal definition of a Facebook friend. Shear on Social Media Law. Retrieved March 18, 2011 from

Smith, B. G. (2010). Socially distributing public relations: Twitter, Haiti, and interactivity in social media. Public Relations Review, 36, 329-335.

Steinfield, C., Ellison, N. B., & Lampe, C. (2008). Social capital, self-esteem, and use of online social network sites: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 29, 434-445.

Thibaut, J. W., & Kelley, H. H. (1959). The social psychology of groups. New York: Wiley.

Tredinnick, L. (2006).Web 2.0 and business: A pointer to the intranets of the future. Business Information Review, 23(4), 228–234.

Valenzuela, S., Park, N., & Kee, K. (2009). Is there social capital in a social network site? Facebook use and college students’ life satisfaction, trust and participation. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 14, 875-901.

Van Zoonan, L. (1994). Feminist Media Studies. London and New York: Sage.

Verde, A. (2011). Facebook demographics. Retrieved on March 14, 2011 from

Vericat, J. (2010). Accidental activists: Using Facebook to drive change – An interview with Randi Zuckerberg. Journal of International Affairs, 64(1), 177-180.

Vorvoreanu, M. (2009). Perceptions of corporations on Facebook: An analysis of Facebook social norms. Journal of New Communications Research, IV(1), 67-86.

Waters, R., Burnett, E., Lamm, A., & Lucas, J. (2009). Engaging stakeholders through social networking: How nonprofit organizations are using Facebook. Public Relations Review, 35(2), 102-106.

Werch, M. (2010, February 15). My life as H.J. Heinz: Confessions of a real-life Twitter squatter. Advertising Age. Retrieved March 20, 2011 from

Whaling, H. (2010, May 24). BPGlobalPR: A brandjacker strikes again. prTini. Retrieved March 20, 2011 from

Woolley, J. K. (2010). The 2008 presidential election, 2.0: A content analysis of user-generated political Facebook groups. Mass Communication & Society, 13(5), 631-652.

Yadav, S. (2006, August 25). Facebook the complete story. Retrieved March 22, 2011 from

Zhao, S., Grasmuck, S., & Martin, J. (2008). Identity construction on Facebook: Digital empowerment in anchored relationships. Computers in Human Behavior, 24, 1816-1836.


Based at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, USA, The Journal of Social Media in Society is sponsored by the Colleges of Liberal and Fine Arts, Education, Business Administration, and Graduate Studies.