Saying ‘Sorry’: Corporate Apologies Posted to Twitter

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Twitter offers companies an influential environment in which to enhance their reputation and build rapport with existing and potential clients. One important aspect of the emerging customer care discourse is the apologies made by companies via Twitter in response to customer complaints. The analysis focuses on 1183 apologies, and considers their distinctive components (the Illocutionary Force Indicating Device, Explanations, Offers of Repair (Blum-Kulka et al., 1989)) and their rapport building potential (as indicated through opening and closing moves, such as greetings, nominations, discourse markers and emoticons) as a form of image repair (Benoit, 1995) shaped by the media affordances of Twitter (Hutchby, 2001). Corporate apologies are distinctive for their relatively infrequent use of Explanations (as a form of mitigation) and their comparatively greater use of Offers of Repair (as a type of corrective action), which are typically combined with follow up moves such as imperatives and questions. They are also distinctive in their repeated, somewhat formulaic use of greetings and signatures which did not appear in the apologies posted by ordinary Twitter members.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-45
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


  • Apologies
  • Twitter
  • Companies
  • Customer-care
  • Politeness
  • Image repair


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