Johnson Recognized for Research on Social Media

Dr. Olivia Johnson, assistant professor in retailing and consumer science at the University of Houston (UH), was recently recognized for her ongoing research which focuses on the intersection of social media and connective movements. Selected as one of four UH Assistant Professor Excellence Series (APeX) speakers for 2020-2021, Dr. Johnson presented her research on “Preserving Diverse Voices on Social Media” during a well-attended session on October 28th

The APeX lecture series is intended to showcase the breadth and depth of groundbreaking research, scholarship, and creative activity being undertaken by UH early-career faculty across disciplines, as well as to offer opportunities for cross-disciplinary networking. The series is sponsored and organized by the UH Faculty Senate and the UH Government Relations Committee.

Dr. Johnson’s virtual presentation drew 89 attendees, which sets the high mark for APeX presentation attendance since its inception. She is also the first assistant professor from the College of Technology to be selected as an APeX presenter. “I was very excited to share my research with others,” notes Johnson. “I believe it is impactful to not only corporations, but all institutions as social media becomes an integral part of decision making." 

With her research grounded in social responsibility, Dr. Johnson learned in her earlier work that people, particularly Millennials, see social media as a tool for enacting change. Thus, social media becomes a powerful tool, as people anticipate the needs of marginalized groups. 

“I believe our power as consumers is underestimated,” notes Johnson. “Companies are recognizing that they can no longer sit on the sidelines as issues of social justice are at the forefront of the consumers mind and they expect the companies they purchase from to take a stand.”

Dr. Johnson’s areas of study include consumer groups, alternate consumption channels and social responsibility. She ultimately wants to help consumers understand the power they wield to make lasting change in companies and other institutions, through channels like social media.

In addition to preserving diverse voices on social media and how social media restrictions influence user’s decisions to post, Dr. Johnson’s work covers topics such as #BoycottNFL, which outlines different actors in an online connective movement, and retailers’ responses to the George Floyd murder on their websites and social media platforms. She has a forthcoming paper on #BoycottNFL that has been accepted for publication in Computers in Human Behavior highlighting the influence of offline events on online connective movements.

Dr. Johnson has presented her research at a variety of conferences, such as the American Collegiate Retailing Association and the International Textile and Apparel Association Conference and has been published in journals such as the Journal of Consumer Behavior and Social Media + Society.  She received her Ph.D. in Consumer and Design Sciences from Auburn University.

Dr. Olivia Johnson can be reached at or 713-743-1587