A cross-cultural analysis of celebrity practice in microblogging


  • Min Zhang Beijing Information Science and Technology University, China and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • Doreen D. Wu The Hong Kong Polytechnic University




celbrity discourse, rapport managment, speech acts, twitter, weibo


This study attempts to explore how celebrities manage rapport with followers through an array of speech acts in microblogging – the essential building blocks of virtual identity on social media. Six months of postings of eight of the most-followed Twitter and Weibo celebrities from USA and China were retrieved and analysed. A taxonomy of nine speech acts for rapport management was identified to give a categorised descriptive snapshot of celebrities’ microblogging discourse. The results revealed that the celebrities from both countries employ self-disclosing speech acts extensively to report events, anecdotes, or initiate small talk with fans for solidarity building. In addition, the attention fostered by the personalised, affective, and eye-catching self-disclosure posts is frequently directed to the posts promoting their professional activities or products to commercialise the solidarity as much needed for maintaining a strong fan base. In general, the celebrity practices in USA and China display a converging trend as the prevalent speech acts are largely overlapping across cultures, while culture-specific microblogging behaviours were also identified from the less frequently performed speech acts.

Author Biographies

Min Zhang, Beijing Information Science and Technology University, China and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Min Zhang is a lecturer in the Beijing Information Science and Technology University and a doctoral student of applied linguistics at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Her research interest areas include corpus linguistics, computer -mediated communication and digital narratives.

Doreen D. Wu, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Doreen D. Wu is an associate professor in the Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Her recent research interests are in transcultural pragmatics and computer-mediated communication.


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How to Cite

Zhang, M., & Wu, D. D. (2018). A cross-cultural analysis of celebrity practice in microblogging. East Asian Pragmatics, 3(2), 179-200. https://doi.org/10.1558/eap.33060