Social Media – a crisis communication tool: A case study of three companies within the oil and gas industry on how to implement social media in the crisis communication response

Maren Løwén Heradstveit & Kine Hagen

Student thesis: Master thesis


In this study the emphasis has been on the increasing importance of social media to businesses, and how it can be utilized as a communication tool in crisis response management. The argumentation has been that social media has brought down old media barriers by making the stakeholders more informed and empowered, which has further contributed to shifting the control of company’s public reputation from the corporation itself to the control of social media forums. Unlike traditional mainstream media, social media is a democracy, and companies who attempt to control the information flow will fail, by appearing dishonest and secretive. The total effects of social media on businesses are still unknown. This study thus highlights the degree of uncertainty concerning challenges and possibilities associated with communication amid stakeholders through these channels, and the lack of sufficient research within crisis management on this particular field. The aim of the study was therefore to examine how social media can be used as a means to help restore the company’s reputation and public image post-crisis. When conducting a case analysis by assessing and comparing the crisis response efforts of three American oil and gas companies, we were able to identify differences in successful managing of social media communication. The lessons taken from the three companies’ communication efforts through social media were the basis of the final proposition and recommendations on how social media can be implemented into the crisis response plan.

EducationsMSc in International Business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages188