This master thesis explores a new phenomenon called ’shitstorms’ on social media and the effect it has consumers and users. Existing literature has mainly been focused on how companies should deal with shitstorms and not how consumers perceive them and what the effect is because of them. A social media shitstorm is a relative new term, which is when a company is exposed to a massive amount of negative word-of-mouth in a short period of time on social media. Shitstorms occur on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, where users can give their opinion and are very beneficial for sharing electronic word-of-mouth. When enough users share their negative opinion about something, the shitstorm will be big enough for the traditional media to gain an interest in the case and start to report about it. The thesis is build upon an analytic approach and the empirical research is from two case studies (Jensen’s Bøfhus and Copenhagen Zoo) and eight in-depth interviews. Jensen’s Bøfhus was a case where the Danish people got really involved and the shitstorm affected the company a lot. Copenhagen Zoo was a shitstorm that got attention in Denmark, but also from foreign countries such as United Kingdom and United States. The case studies act as a foundation for the thesis and give the understanding of how a shitstorm works. To examine how a shitstorm affects consumers, eight in-depth interviews are conducted to understand how shitstorms are seen and how they affect each of the respondents. The qualitative study leads to a fundamental understanding, which is then complemented by a theoretic framework that further explores the elements shitstorms are constituted by. The key findings in this thesis show that the crisis communication strategy is closely linked to the effect of a shitstorm. If a crisis communication strategy is chosen which is not suited for the shitstorm, the effect will be bigger. Another key finding was that the attitude towards the company had a big influence on whether or not the shitstorm affected the consumer. Findings show that companies, which have a stronger reputation before the shitstorm is less affected than companies who have a weaker reputation. Findings also show that knowledge about the shitstorm and certain people who share opinions about the shitstorm also have an effect. The thesis discuss the different aspects to determine what effect the most and conclude that crisis communication strategy and attitude towards the Company are the two most important aspects which will affect consumers, and these are the aspects that companies should be aware of.
|Educations||MSc in Organisational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis|
|Number of pages||128|