Shitstorm: En storm I et glas vand

Frederik Bülow

Student thesis: Master thesis


This master thesis investigates and reveals new knowledge to the relatively new phenomenon “shitstorms”. By looking into existing literature, collecting empirical data from experts on the subject, and information from Danish companies who has suffered a shitstorm, this thesis will look deeper into the dynamics that creates and develop a shitstorm. Furthermore this research will give some guidelines for future crisis handling, and how to prevent a forthcoming shitstorm based on the collected empirical data. Shitstorms are a new phenomenon that has, since 2012, taken Denmark by storm. Companies as well as experts in the field have limited information and data on the subject. By defining the concept of a shitstorm and investigating the technical aspect and the behavior of the consumers, a better understanding on the matter can be achieved. This information is therefore of great interest for companies in order to be prepared on how to handle and prevent shitstorms. Shitstorms occur on social media, primarily Facebook, and grows exponential because of the algorithm Facebook uses and the ever-changing consumer behavior. Shitstorms are defined by the rapidly growth and wide spread amongst consumers, made possible by Facebook. The numbers of participants in shitstorms are enormous, and make companies fear the risk of ending up in a possible shitstorm. But as we see more and more shitstorms, many companies claims shitstorms have no effect on their business, neither financial or on any other parameter. This paradox is the reason for the title of this master thesis. Negative electronic Word of Mouth is the backbone of a shitstorm, and the motive of the engagement in triggering a shitstorm and participation is important. By understanding these factors along with knowledge in social media and crisis management, companies should be able to stand a chance of preventing shitstorms, handle them and minimize the consequences they may or may not have. The analytic approach in this thesis is based on a qualitative approach, where interviews with three Danish companies (Telenor, Tivoli and Jensens Bøfhus) and with three experts on the matter have been made. The three companies have been involved in shitstorms, and they have had notable media attention. The cases are furthermore chosen because of the differences, such as how the shitstorm was triggered, how it developed and what the consequences was, for investigating every aspect of a shitstorm. By using relevant literature a theoretical framework in the form of a Shitstorm timeline is made to guide the reader and deduce hypothesis. The hypothesis is confirmed or rejected from the results of the collected empirical data. The key findings of this study is the making of the revised Shitstorm timeline where all the findings are put into use and gives an overview of a Shitstorm lifecyclus where crisis management actions are deduced. A 5 company can use the model to prepare themselves for a shitstorm and maybe be able to prevent a potential shitstorm from being realized.

EducationsMSc in Economics and Marketing, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages101