G1 – Group 2 – PM Social Media Use and Parasocial Relationship

Parasocial relationship through social media: Assessing the influence of Prime Minister’s (PM) social media presence on Singapore Management University (SMU) students’ confidence in him


Inspiration for the topic

As a team, we are pretty keen on politics and current affairs. We read the research paper by (Chung and Cho, 2014) during the second week of the curriculum and were pretty impressed by it. In short, the writers studied the relationship between Korean celebrities and their fans. They conducted a survey and found that a parasocial relationship had developed between celebrities and fans through the use of social media. They also found that such a parasitical relationship had serious implications for brand endorsement and credibility.

We were fascinated by the concept of a parasocial relationship and curious to see how powerful its effects really are. We thought that there are compelling reasons for extending the concept to the political context. If it has such strong implications in the commercial setting, then perhaps these effects might be replicated in politics to the benefit of various political actors. The next question for us was which politician should we study? At once, the choice was obvious – the PM in Singapore is popular for habitually posting on his various social media accounts.

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On his Twitter and Facebook accounts, the PM frequently reveals intimate details about his personal life. And if you click on any of these social media posts, you will see that it is filled with positive comments from his many followers. This was extremely conducive for the development of a parasitical relationship between the PM and his followers. Accordingly, we were excited to begin our research. We quickly sought out various SMU students which we employed as our survey and interview subjects. While we understand that confining our sample to such a small group might limit our research findings, we nevertheless hope that they might function as a microcosm of Singaporeans as a whole.

Hypothesis 1: SMU Students’ following of PM on SNS and parasocial relationships with the PM are positively associated. 

First, we posited that SMU students who follow the PM on Twitter and Facebook have a parasocial relationship with the PM. We based this by analogising the findings of previous academic papers on parasocial relationships in the commercial context, as well as on the back of the many positive comments easily found on the PM’s social media posts.

Hypothesis 2: Parasocial relationships and SMU students’ perceptions of the PM’s credibility are positively associated.

Second, we thought that it would be likely that if parasocial relationships were found amongst the followers of the PM, these parasocial relationships would lead to those followers viewing the PM with high levels credibility similar to parasocial relationships in the context of celebrities.

Hypothesis 3: SMU students’ perceptions of the PM’s credibility and SMU students’ confidence in the PM are positively associated. 

Third, we posited that research findings pertaining to brand credibility and perceived product quality are similarly applicable in the political context to measure the effect of perceptions of credibility on political confidence. Approval and support for governments normally increase citizens’ trust and perceived credibility. This is unsurprising given that governments wield great power and the individual is vulnerable to abuses of political power. 

Measuring parasocial relationship with the PM

We employed 3 criteria of parasocial relationships: Understanding, Perceived Friendship and Self-Disclosure. We examined various past studies on parasocial relationships, all of which adopted different indicators in order to measure the existence of parasocial relationships. After much deliberation, we finally decided on these 3 criteria, which we adopted from (Chung and Cho, 2014), because it made the most  sense and were the clearest in illustrating the concept.

In our survey, we made sure to ask questions that most accurately reflect the value of these 3 criteria on the part of our respondents.


After a tedious survey and interview process, coupled with running the data through SPSS software, we present the following results.

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To our astonishment, Hypothesis 1 was rejected. As we had predicted, Hypotheses 2 and 3 were accepted. Our findings are a little confusing at first glance. What this meant was that SMU students had a parasocial relationship with the PM, and such parasocial relationships led to an increase in their perceptions of the PM’s credibility and confidence in him. However, such a parasocial relationship did not arise from the use of Facebook and Twitter. It must have developed from other means beyond the contemplation of our paper.


We asked ourselves: how else could SMU students developed a parasocial relationship with the PM, if not through Twitter or Facebook? We postulated several possibilities.

First, respondents may have developed a parasocial relationship through media influences other than SNS such as traditional media. However, this is unlikely as our survey results also show that traditional media did not affect the development of a parasocial relationship with the PM,

Second, a parasocial relationship may have developed through following the PM on SNS platforms not within our survey. While our survey only included SNS of Facebook and Twitter, certain respondents in our post-survey interviews expressed views that they actively follow and receive updates from the PM through Instagram. These interviewees also mentioned that they favour the use of Instagram over other SNS. Therefore, such parasocial relationship amongst respondents could have been developed through following the PM on Instagram.

Third, the significant negative correlation in our findings may be due to the nature of Facebook and Twitter as platforms which facilitate critical political discussions. Facebook and Twitter are channels in which Singaporeans who possess anti-establishment views employ to discuss important and sometimes controversial political matters. In contrast, Singaporeans who desire a more intimate interpersonal relationship with the PM are more likely to “follow” the PM on Instagram. Accordingly, Instagram probably constitutes the SNS platform that is conducive to the development of parasocial relationships. This could be a possible explanation as to why respondents did not have parasocial relationships with the PM through Facebook and Twitter use.

Fourth, the development of a parasocial relationship may be through non-media related factors. The culture in Singapore follows that of Confucianist values with emphasis on respect for elders and persons in authority. As such, many Singaporeans have an inherent respect for people in governmental capacities such as the PM. This is applicable here given the fact that the PM has been the Prime Minister of Singapore for 13 years leading Singapore through a relatively prosperous period of time. The PM’s position as the leader of the People’s Action Party which has been the Singapore’s governing party since independence overseeing Singapore’s transformation from a third world country to a first world country could also lead the respondents having an inherent sense of trust and respect for the PM.

Regarding our findings on Hypotheses 2 and 3, our study mirrors those of previous researches on parasocial relationships in relation to celebrities. Accordingly, it appears that the concept of parasocial relationship and its powerful implications are likely to be similarly applicable for politics.


Our study provides ample evidence that the immense implications of parasocial relationship in the commercial context may likely be replicated for political actors. This represents a new exciting avenue for research. With the advent of web 2.0 technology, the reliance on social media for political communication is only going to increase. Politicians must better understand how to cultivate parasocial relationship with their followers to fully harness the power of social media.

By: CHOO Jun Kai, Fabian DE LA FUENTE OLIVAS, Leonard LEONG Chee Yarn, LIM Kiap Mei Grace, Wayne YEO

COMM346 AY2017-18 has finished all this term’s course-work

COMM346 has finished all this term’s course-work .

Student presentations were held during Weeks 12-13.


Corporate executives from OhChaCha and Nine Fresh who are the clients of Alto Marketing – the digital consultancy – visited COMM346 and attended students’ pitch.

OhChaCha executive directors received well the CSR ideas and video viral campaigns.

The Nine Fresh PR manager also indicated high interest in the ample timely and seasonal event ideas suggested by the pitch.

Sanghee Kim, one of the COMM346 alumni, and an Alto founder, represented WingZone and provided valuable feedback to three groups who pitched ideas for WingZone.

Sanghee said “All of our clients are very impressed by the fresh and insightful ideas of each group, and will discuss further on actual incorporations of groups’ ideas into real strategies.”

Thank you to OhChaCha and Nine Fresh for their amazing collaboration with COMM346 this term!


Other students’ projects in G1 presented social media strategies for The Coastal Settlement, The Cat Museum, academic research on parasocial relationship through politicians’ use of social media, and a case-study on aviation crisis responses via social media.

Students’ projects in G2 presented hands-on strategies for SPCA, Home Away, The Big Cheese, Suit Yourself, and FoodPanda, as well as academic research on addictive following of online influencers.

COMM 346 successfully finished this term.

Well-deserved kudos to you all! And good luck with your finals!

Discovery project winners

We have seven discovery project winners.

From G1, four students, Marcos, Samantha, Seraphyn and Xue Ling won the prize.

From G2, Khee, Regina, and Myra demonstrated good performance in tracking the organization of interest. Cheryl and Jonas’s project delivery, who are the top opening essay winners, were also outstanding.

All the groups effectively have used the Delivery project  for the investigation of the competitors or role model leader of the industry.

Kudos to you all!


Digital Marketing Specialist, Will Carnwath visited COMM346

Will Carnwath lectured for COMM346, illustrating new pressures and extended responsibilities of corporations with regards to digital innovations and changing trends in marketing communications.

In the lecture he shared new trends, specifically, perishable content, visual content dominance, changing editorial algorithms, the demise of the traditional human bylines, and social business initiatives in the B-to-B sector.

In addition to touching on digital trends and its implications for corporate communication, the guest lecture session covered real-world case studies to provide practical insights and lessons learned.

In the follow-up Q and A session Will shared with students regarding the projection of future trends and possible organic reach of the corporate content and some other interesting topics for further discussion.

Will’s expertise focuses on corporate reputation, investor relations, and crisis—with a particular focus on the use of digital strategies to engage with a broad range of stakeholders—and he co-leads Brunswick’s Business and Society practice for Asia. He is a former senior investment banker, with over 10 years in corporate finance at Nomura and Piper Jaffray, where he focused on healthcare and industrials in the investment banking group. Before moving to Singapore to establish a new office, he spent three years as Chief of Staff to the Chairman of Brunswick in London, working with him on the largest and highest profile international client accounts and deals. Will graduated from St. Andrews University with a degree in physiology.

Thank you so much, Will, for sharing your valuable insights with COMM 346!

A marketing guru crossing from analogue and digital helped enlighten our class.

Mr. Chee Yue, the director of XYZ Wave Private Limited, shared in-depth industry insights with COMM 346.
Mr. Chee Yue is the trusted partner of agencies, brands and MNCs in Asia, charting and navigating the digital transformation of their business, marketing and customer engagement since 2000 with the last five years focusing on technological innovation and the adoption of emerging technologies.
He shared how marketing and PR has transformed messages and formats in the digital era, with the focus on interactivity and value propositions of the brand, based on his more than 20 years of experience as a marketing expert.
Thank you, Mr. Chee Yue!

Are influencers a dying medium?

I came across this interesting opinion piece on influencers, which was inspired by the controversial wedding of influencer Melissa Koh. I found it to be quite thought provoking and relevant to what we recently discussed in class, and it’s definitely worth a read.

It’s quite a long piece, so for those of you who are time poor, here’s the TL;DR:

  • Many brands believe that the use of influencers are equivalent to word-of-mouth, and that consumers will blindly believe what is said
  • Authenticity and transparency are two factors which should be highly prized by brands and consumers alike, however, sometimes brands fail to see this
  • There are guidelines by the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore, in aims to increase transparency, and in turn, authenticity; However, these are not being adhered to
  • Engagement in the long-run is built on trust and transparency
  • Brands should evaluate which influencers they work with carefully

All that being said, in the end it’s up for consumers to ultimately decide – after all we have the power.


What do you think? Is it time to say goodbye to influencers?

Group 1 – The Coastal Settlement

Hi everyone!

We’re Group 1 from G1 and our organisation of choice is The Coastal Settlement.

What is The Coastal Settlement?

It is a vintage-themed restaurant/cafe/bar located near the coast of Changi. It was established in 2011 under the Urban Group Company and was the first cafe to be set up along Netheravon Road.

What is the Target Group For The Coastal Settlement?

From our interviews, we’ve gathered that the cafe aims to target:

  1. Students and adults who wish to find a comfortable place to work out of office.
  2. Families with children
  3. People looking for a place to host events of any nature.
  4. Workshop enthusiasts.
  5. The local community in Changi

Why Did We Choose The Coastal Settlement?

We chose it because our group believes that the restaurant has the potential to grow into something more than just an eatery. It has a great story behind it, very attractive decor, amazing location, and a unique menu.

Its weak point is that it lacks a strong online and social media presence. It only has a Facebook page which isn’t updated regularly. It also does not have an Instagram page. Furthermore, its management does not believe in paid advertising either through online or offline channels.

Our goal was to come up with a strong proposal containing well-defined social media strategies, in order to convince our client of the value of engaging in social media to market the brand.

How Can Social Media Help The Coastal Settlement?

We believe that it can help:

  1. Create greater awareness of the brand, especially beyond the local community of Changi.
  2. Attract customers from nearby sailing and golfing clubs, or families exercising in the area with their children
  3. Receive and respond to online feedback.
  4. Turn loyal customers into advocates.
  5. Increase Zero Moment of Truth for the brand.

What Are Our Main Objectives of this Project?

As mentioned above, we hope to come up with a proposal that contains sound social media strategies which will help the brand better market itself and connect with its customers. We also want to help the management realise the effectiveness of marketing through social media.

Specifically,  we can help the management respond to social media comments and reviews professionally, attract more followers on its Facebook page, the creation of an Instagram account with unique content, and the monitoring of sentiment about the brand.

What Are Our Main Messages We Want to Deliver?

That The Coastal Settlement is a cosy, retro-themed restaurant which will whisk you away from the hustle and bustle of city life to the seaside.

That it is a perfect place to hold weddings, parties, and corporate events. It is also a place that allows people to relax, especially those who are hanging out nearby after a day of activities

Finally, it is a place for anyone who wishes to study, conduct meetings, or work away from home.

Analysing Our Target Groups

We hope to find out more about our target groups through interviews, observational studies, online surveys, and focus groups.

Feasibility of Media Platforms and Analysis of Data Received

We plan to use the usual social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and also food review platforms such as HungryGoWhere and Burpple.

We have seen the value of online journalism platforms like TheSmartLocal, Sethlui.com, and LadyIronChef. Hence we will be looking at these platforms to push out content.

We hope to use platforms such as Social Bakers, Synthesio, and Facebook Insights to analyse the effectiveness of our social media platforms of choice.

We will keep you updated on the progress of our project in due time, Thank you!


– Group 1: Bryan Low, Christel Tan, Roy Chionh, Seraphyn See, and Zenavia Quek


Top opening essay award

We have four top opening essay award winners for COMM346, AY2017-18 Term 1.

From G1, the winners are Jun Kai and Melanie. Jun Kai’s opening essay was impressive as he brought up an interesting issue regarding the law industry and its digital adoption. Melanie’s essay created a strong impression of her keen interest in the digital world and her passion and curiosity within it.

From G2, Cheryl and Jonas won the award. They commonly shared their internship history in relevance to real struggles in the business process to make a fresh idea actually happen. Their stories were real and down-to-earth.

Jonas and Charyl

Please give congrats to the award winners, and don’t forget that there are still a lot of chances to get an award, as many surprises are still awaiting for this term.

Synthesio workshop at COMM346

Steven Zheng, the Regional Account Manager of Synthesio, APAC, along with his colleagues, Henry Chow and Kimly Anaissa, spoke about social listening (13, 14 September).  The workshop session was very informative and enlightening for the students as the presenters walked through all the demos and helped students get practical strategies for effective social media listening for their group project.


Everyone had fun and gained a better understanding of this global-scale social media tool.

Synthesio kindly offers two weeks of access to the account for each and every group in COMM 346.

If students want an extension of the access, they can ask Prof. Kyu for extra account for their own research.

Thank you so much Synthesio! And we hope this collaboration will continue for the mutual benefit of both academics and industries through sharing insights and knowledge in this digital world.

PS. Please share your feedback or queries regarding building dashboard etc., if any, via the comment thread attached to this posting. Thanks!