Original Research

Stakeholders’ engagement in 280 characters: Evidence from JSE-listed companies

George F. Nel, Yadah du Toit
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 26, No 1 | a4964 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v26i1.4964 | © 2023 George F. Nel, Yadah du Toit | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 December 2022 | Published: 24 August 2023

About the author(s)

George F. Nel, School of Accountancy, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Yadah du Toit, School of Accountancy, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa


Background: Twitter is revolutionising the way in which companies engage with stakeholders. While prior research examining companies’ use of Twitter focused on the capital market consequences thereof, empirical evidence on how companies use Twitter, still remains scant.

Aim: We aim to improve our understanding of the use of Twitter, specifically (1) whether companies use Twitter as a two-way stakeholders’ engagement platform, and (2) whether companies change tweeting behaviour around result release dates.

Setting: The sample consists of 70 companies for which 73 018 tweets were downloaded from Twitonomy during the period 2017–2020.

Methods: The data were analysed using the mixed-model analysis of variances (ANOVAs) and generalised estimations equations. The agency, legitimacy, signalling and capital need theories were used to set expectations and interpret results.

Results: Although there was no significant increase in the overall number of tweets, most companies significantly improved their level of engagement from 2017 to 2020. This is especially true of larger companies, the more profitable companies and companies with increased future growth potential. Furthermore, companies tweet significantly more around result release dates. This is most pronounced in primary industries and companies reliant on capital markets.

Contribution: This is the first study that aimed to explore the two-way use of Twitter as a stakeholders’ engagement platform, in the context of a developing country, including possible reasons why companies tweeting behaviour changes around result release dates. It is proposed that regulatory bodies should take note of possible risks, and that companies should be aware of what their peers are doing.


stakeholders’ engagement; social media; Twitter; tweet; annual results; interim results; two-way engagement.

JEL Codes

M40: General

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth


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