Sociale medier i virksomhedskommunikation

Sara Louise Barnholdt

Student thesis: Master thesis


Within the private sphere, social media are an increasingly popular communication tool, which allow people to “network” and keep in touch with friends, family and acquaintances easily and fast. Now, organisations, too, are showing great interest in adopting these new media in their internal as well as external communication with stakeholders. However, as social media are still a relatively new phenomenon within communication in general, theoretical literature on the subject has not been able to keep up with the rapid increase in distribution and usage of the new communication tools. Organisations thus lack sufficient information to form an understanding of how social media can benefit their stakeholder communication compared to traditional media. In other words, they have the intent but lack the required knowledge. This thesis takes its starting point in this “literary shortcoming” and aims to establish social media as a corporate communication tool. The focus is on why organisations choose to implement social media and emphasis is put on what advantages these new media can generate compared to traditional communication media. The empirical basis for the thesis is four case studies from three different Danish organisations that are using social media for different communicative purposes. They were each interviewed about their experience with social media covering the media selection process, the implementation process and the subsequent effects of integrating social media in their communication efforts. These empirical data are put into the context of theories such as media richness, social information processing (SIP) and social construction of technology (SCOT). The analysis places social media high on the media richness scale based on criteria such as personal focus, immediate response and everyday language, all of which social media support. These are all characteristics that social media have in common with traditional rich media such as face-to-facecommunication, telephone, etc. However, as opposed to these common media, which are usually restricted to involve very few participants, social media enable a very wide audience to receive and participate in the communication. This feature is one that is characteristic for traditional mass media, such as television, but in contrast to television advertisement for instance, which entails great expenses for the organisation, utilising social media is to a large extent cost free, both in regard to production and distribution. The thesis concludes that social media, on the whole, combine the best of two worlds; they offer the same advantages as traditional, rich media by supporting two-way communication including personal focus, immediate response and everyday language but with the wide distribution opportunities of mass media only at a lower cost and with fewer restrictions than traditional mass media. Collectively, this means that social media are able to tackle ambiguous, complex communication tasks while making the communication visible to whomever is interested. As such, social media have advantages that no traditional medium offers and thus, organisations can benefit greatly by implementing social media in their corporate communication.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2009
Number of pages117