Social Media Communication during a Corporate Brand Crisis:

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School of Economics

Business Administration

BUSN39

Degree project in Global Marketing, Master Level

Spring semester 2013


Social Media Communication

during
a Corporate Brand Crisis:

The C
ase of Findus






Authors
:




Miriam Ipsen

Malin Jönsson



Supervisor:

Karin Bryntse





ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

By

this acknowledgement

we

first of all want

to thank

Anna Broekman, Hanna Kramer
and Jonas Wistrand, from our
cas
e company Findus, who welcomed

collaboration and
took the time to participate in our interviews. We would also like to thank the eight
consumers as well as Mats Urde and Veronika
Tarnovskaya,

who participated in
interviews and made this study
possible
. We are also very grateful for the help from our
supervisor Karin Bryntse and for her guidance through this process.


Lund, May 2013

Malin & Miriam




ABSTRACT

Title


Social Media Communication during a Corporate Brand Crisis: The case
of Findus

Authors

Miriam Ipsen and Malin Jönsson


Advisor

Karin Bryntse


Seminar

date

2013
-
05
-
27



Course

BUSN39 Degree project in Global Marketing, Master Level

Key

words

Crisis Management, Social media, Corporate Branding, Reputation and
Reputational Corporate Brand
Crisis

Purpose


The

purpose

of

the

research

is

to explore
how social media can be used

in order

to handle a corporate brand crisis and to analyze how
consumers respond to and reason regarding crisis communication in
social media.

Method



The

study

is

con
ducted

with

a qualitative case study approach.
A

combination of

observations and semi
-
structured interviews were
chosen to collect the empirical data.

Theory



The theoretical framework of the study is mainly based on theories
within corporate branding, cr
isis management and social media that
describe the new conditions within marketing.

Empirics

The empirical material is based on observations of Findus’ social media
platforms, as well as four interviews with managers from Findus, two
interviews with resear
chers at Lund University and eight interviews
with consumers in ages between 2
3
-
65 years.

Analysis

The analysis is presented in five themes based on the dominant
tendencies from the empirical material; P
roactive Efforts,

Monitoring Activity, Social Media Competence, Content Strategy and

Segmenting C
ommunication. These five themes are the backbone of our
own framework, which describes effective ways to manage corporate
branding crisis management in social media.

Conclusion


The study concludes that many of the theories from the literature
review are applicable on corporate brand crisis management in social
media but it is essential to have specific social media competence since
there are different social rules online than o
ffline.



TABLE OF CONTENT


1.

INTRODUCTION

................................
................................
................................
.........................

1

1.1

Purpose and research question
................................
................................
................................
...

3

2

METHOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS

................................
................................
....................

4

2.1

A qualitative case study

................................
................................
................................
...............

4

2.1.1

Choice of case company

................................
................................
................................
..........

5

2.2

Choice and usage of theory

................................
................................
................................
..........

5

2.3

Collection of empirical material

................................
................................
................................
..

6

2.3.1

Observations

................................
................................
................................
...........................

6

2.3.2

Interviews

................................
................................
................................
...............................

7

2.4

Analysis approach

................................
................................
................................
........................

12

2.5

Trustworthiness and authenticity

................................
................................
............................

12

2.6

Critical reflections

................................
................................
................................
......................

14

3

LITTERATURE REVIEW

................................
................................
................................
.........

15

3.1

Corporate branding
................................
................................
................................
......................

15

3.1.1

The Corporate Brand Identity Matrix

................................
................................
....................

16

3.1.2

Corporate reputation

................................
................................
................................
............

19

3.2

Brand crisis management

................................
................................
................................
..........

21

3.2.1

Consequences of a brand crisis

................................
................................
............................

22

3.2.2

Crisis management

................................
................................
................................
...............

22

3.3

Social media marketing

................................
................................
................................
.............

23

3.3.1

Social media

................................
................................
................................
..........................

23

3.3.2

Branding & social media

................................
................................
................................
......

25

3.4

Concluding reflections

................................
................................
................................
...............

27

4

EMPIRICAL FINDINGS &

ANALYSIS

................................
................................
....................

28

4.1

Presentation of the case company

................................
................................
............................

28

4.1.1

Findus group

................................
................................
................................
.........................

28

4.1.2

Findus Sweden AB History

................................
................................
................................
...

28

4.1.3

Findus’ products and operations

................................
................................
.........................

29

4.1.4

Findus’ communication and public relations division

................................
........................

29

4.1.5

Findus’ marketing division

................................
................................
................................
...

30

4.1.6

Findus’ corporate brand identity

................................
................................
.........................

30

4.1.7

Findus’ social media platforms

................................
................................
............................

32

4.2

The horsemeat crisis

................................
................................
................................
..................

34

4.2.1

Findus’ crisis communication
................................
................................
...............................

35

4.3

Background information

................................
................................
................................
...........

41

4.3.1

Observational findings

................................
................................
................................
.........

41

4.3.2

Insights from consumer interviews

................................
................................
......................

42

4.4

Corporate Brand Crisis Management in Social Media

................................
.............................

43

4.4.1

Pro
active efforts

................................
................................
................................
...................

44

4.4.2

On
-

and offline listening

................................
................................
................................
.......

45



4.4.3

Social media competence

................................
................................
................................
......

50

4.4.4

Content strategy

................................
................................
................................
....................

62

4.4.5

Segmenting communication

................................
................................
................................
.

66

4.4.6

Presentation of our new framework

................................
................................
.....................

68

5

CONCLUSIONS AND INPLICATIONS

................................
................................
...................

73

5.1

Conclusion
................................
................................
................................
................................
...

73

5.2

Future research

................................
................................
................................
..........................

75

6

REFERENCES

................................
................................
................................
.............................

76






LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1
:

Overview of consumer respondents………………………………
...
………
………….
……....11

Figure 2:

The
Corporate Brand Identity Matrix.
…………………………….…
………….
……………..
17

Figure 3:

Indicative questions for the ap
plication of the CBIM framework……
………….
….
18

Figure 4: The honeycomb of social media
………………………………………………
………….
………

24

Figure 5:
The functionality of Facebook
…………………………………………
………….
……………….
25

Figure 6: Findus Sweden CBIM matrix
……………………………………………
………….
……………...
31

Figure 7: The
concept Live
-
casting………………………………………………………
………….
…………
39

Figure 8: The
concept
Findus’ guests
……………………………...
…………………
………
….
……………
40

Figure 9: The concept Ask Findus
………………………………………
………….
…………………………

40

Figure 10:
Corporate
Brand C
risis Management in Social Media
……………
……….
…........43,
69





LIST OF APPENDIX

Appendix 1: Interview guide Findus
……………………………………….…………………………………84

Appendix
2: Interview guide researchers
………………………………………………….……………….87

Appendix 3: Interview guide consumers
…………………………………………………….……………...88

A
ppendix 4: Transcription example…………………………………………………………………………..93

1


1.

INTRODUCTION

In January this year (2013) it was reported in British and Irish media that horse
-
DNA
was detected in frozen hamburgers of beef, which was sold in several British and Irish
supermarkets.

Shortly thereafter, the same problem was discovered in Swedish
produ
cts, which
received considerable media attention in Sweden. The news about the
horsemeat scandal was spread all over Europe and Sweden's largest grocery and food
chains were involved.
The companies’ suppliers caused the error

and they had to
withdraw all products that were suspected to contain traces of horsemeat.
Examples of
companies that were concerned in Sweden are: Axfood, ICA, Coop, Findus, Dafgård, IKEA
and Lidl. (Bergstedt & Eriksson, 2013; Fi
ndus, 2013c; SVD, 2013; TT
, 2013
; Åkerman,
2013) The horsemeat scandal also spread widely and quickly on social media and
important questions for companies that were facing this horsemeat crisis was thus how
they should respond to this? Should they join the debate and discussion on

social media
or should they stay out of it?

There is an agreement within the literature that there has been a power shift between
consumers and companies, due to the development of Internet and social media
(Chrisodoulides, 2009; Cova and Pace, 2006; Hof
fman and Fodor, 2010; Wind, 2008).
Armelini and Villanueva (2011) state that word of mouth spreads much faster online
than offline. They also explain that negative word of mouth can be devastating, since
many consumers find it highly trustworthy. Muniz and

Schau (2011) explain that due to
the development of social media, we have gone from one way marketing to a society
where consumers have become active contributors who take part in online
conversations. Consumers have taken control of things that tradition
ally have been
controlled by marketers. Cova and Pace (2006) argue that consumers today have the
power to take control of companies’ brand meaning. Further, Winer (2009) argues that
marketing managers traditionally controlled the message, but this is no lo
nger the case.
They can no longer control the message since they are unable to control what
consumers say about the brand in social media. Dahlen and Lange (2006) also state that
this is an important fact when dealing with reputation management since the b
rand is in
the hands of its consumers, who determine its reputation. In the past, companies have
been able to plan their message and communication, but since the conditions have
2


changed, consumers are getting involved and sometimes get in charge. What does

this
mean for companies that are in a middle of a reputational brand crisis, and what kind of
strategies can be used to handle a crisis through social media?

How a company handles a crisis affects both its brand equity and consumers’ purchase
intentions
(Yannopoulou, Koronis & Elliott, 2011). Schultz, Utz and Göritz (2011) argue
that social media also can be seen as an effective tool when trying to deconstruct a crisis.
They explain that social media is faster and more interactive than traditional media a
nd
companies should therefore use this tool when they are trying to repair their reputation
and prevent boycotts. It thus seems like companies’ crisis management have a major
impact on both their brand and reputation and that social media could be used in
order
to repair the effects of a crisis. But then the question is: how should

companies act? Is it
appropriate to use the same strategies for crisis management online and offline,

or are
there differences companies should be aware of? What knowledge do com
panies need to
have regarding how consumers respond to companies’ crisis communication?

Dutta and Pullig (2001) argue that there has been a confusion regarding how to act in
brand crises.
Kietzmann, Hermkens, McCarthy and Silvestre
(2011) state that social

media can have a major impact on companies’ reputation and sales. Schultz, Utz and
Göritz (2011) argue that there is a lack of studies about the effects of how different
social media communication affects the receiver during different crisis situations. T
here
is thus a lack of research and theories that combine knowledge regarding social media
and crisis management. Accordingly we believe that there is a need to investigate how
companies can use social media in their crisis management and how this affects
consumers. Kietzmann et al (2011) argue that many managers seem unsure about the
usage of social media, and for that reason consequently avoid it. Therefore we are also
aiming to give practitioners guidelines regarding how to use social media in their bran
d
crisis management.

One of the companies that have been affected by the horsemeat fraud is Findus. Since
Findus is a recent example of a company that is in the middle of a reputational brand
crisis, and furthermore use social media in their market communi
cation
(Stadigs, 2011)
,
we will conduct a qualitative case study of the company’s usage of social media in their
crisis management. We will also observe Findus’ social media platforms in order to
3


study the dialogue between the company and the users and to

get insights regarding
consumers´ reactions in social media. The observations will serve as a basis for the in
-
depth interviews with consumers, where we want to investigate if consumers’ reactions
are the same online and offline.

1.1

Purpose and research que
stion

The

purpose

of

the

research

is

to explore
how social media can be used

in order

to
handle a corporate brand crisis and to analyze how consumers respond to and reason
regarding crisis communication in social media.

With

regards

to

this

study’s

purpose

our

research

question

is:



How
can a

company use social media to communicate in a corporate brand crisis
and how do consumers respond to and reason regarding this?


The research question has both theoretical and practic
al relevance, since it both aims to
fill the gaps of the understanding regarding crisis management in social media, and to
provide managers with practical guidance for handling a corporate brand crisis in social
media. We will contribute by combining exist
ing theories about crisis management,
brand reputation and social media and bring it together with our own empirical
material, in order to present a new framework for
social media management in a
corporate brand crisis.

Our research is limited to Sweden a
nd even though Findus also are active in business to
business, we have chosen to focus on business to consumer communication. Because of
our case company's brand architecture, our research is limited to corporate branding.



4


2

METHOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS

This chapter explains and motivates the choice of research design, method and case
company. Thereafter the empirical data collection and processing is described. The chapter
ends with a discussion of the study’s quality.

2.1

A qualitative case study

Since
the purpose of this study is to
explore
how social media can be used in order to

handle a corporate brand crisis and to analyze how consumers respond to and reason
regarding crisis communication in social media,
we believe that there can be several
possibl
e answers to our research question. Easterby
-
Smith, Thorpe and Jackson (2012,
p
.

18) describe ontology as
“philosophical assumptions about the nature of reality”.
With
regard to the explorative nature of our research question, we have chosen to draw most
of our inspiration from the relativistic approach, which implies that we have been aware
of that facts depend on the perspective of the observer and that it therefore can be many
possible truths (Easterby
-
Smith, Thorpe & Jackson, 2012).

Within epistemology
, the opposing interpretations are positivism and social
constructionism. We have mostly identified with constructivism since it can be argued
that it relates to our relativistic view. (Easterby
-
Smith, Thorpe & Jackson, 2012). An
alternative methodology co
uld be to take on a more positivistic approach and conduct a
quantitative study with surveys to a large number of companies and consumers, but
since our research area is relatively unexplored, we considered a qualitative approach
more relevant for our stud
y (Strauss & Corbin, 1990;
Easterby
-
Smith, Thorpe & Jackson,
2012
).

Bryman and Bell (2011) state that it can be hard to make a clear distinction between an
inductive and a deductive approach, and they therefore recommend researchers to view
them as tendenc
ies instead of absolute concepts. The research is partly based on existing
theories, but the aim is to combine these with the empirical findings to generate new
theory. In order to achieve our goal we have moved back and forth between theory,
empirical gen
eration and analysis and the parts have therefore been developed
simultaneously. Some researchers call this an abductive research strategy. (Mason,
2002; Alvesson

&

Sköldberg,

2009)

5


Our research question is based on a relatively unexplored research proble
m and we
have therefore chosen to conduct a qualitative case study
(Merriam, 1994; Bryman &
Bell, 2011; Easterby
-
Smith, Thorpe & Jackson, 2012).
Case studies are common research
designs within business and management. (Bryman & Bell, 2011). Qualitative cas
e
studies are more common than quantitative (Merriam, 1994) and a basic case study
consist of one case, which can be for example an organization, location, person or event
(Bryman & Bell, 2011). We have chosen a case study design, since it is well suitable

for
gaining a rich picture and deep insights of how people involved in a crisis are reasoning.
A case study usually focuses on context, process and discovering (rather than variables,
proof and result) (Merriam, 1994; Easterby
-
Smith, Thorpe & Jackson, 201
2). We find
this highly suitable for our research since our research question is of an explorative and
descriptive kind.


2.1.1

Choice of case company

In order to answer the question of how a company can use social media to communicate
in a corporate brand crisis, we found it essential to select a case company
that is active

in social media. We also wanted
to base the case on a relevant and on
-
going repu
tational
brand crisis.

Findus have an active social media strategy and we therefore find their way
of handling the horsemeat crisis highly suitable.
We argue that the extensive social
media attention and Findus rapid response make the case highly interesti
ng.

According
to Merriam (1994) case studies can be considered as descriptive, interpretive or
evaluative and we hope that this case study will contribute by describing how Findus are
acting and how consumers are reacting. We have also interpreted the info
rmation in
order to create a categorization, which enables us to answer the research question.

2.2

Choice and usage of theory

We have not been able to find any accepted academic theories regarding reputational
crisis management in social media. The literature
review therefore consists of theories
from three separate fields: corporate branding and reputation, crisis management and
social media management. Since our case concerns corporate branding, we have chosen
to include a new model by Urde (forthcoming), whi
ch describes how to work with
corporate branding. The articles regarding Internet and social media were selected with
the criterion that they not should be older than a few years. The theories have formed
6


the basis for our research and have therefore affec
ted both observations and interview
questions. Our abductive approach has allowed us to move back and forth between
theory and our empirical findings, which has enabled us to adjust the theory to our
empirical findings.

2.3

Collection of empirical material

A

case study is exceptional if you want to show the complexity of a situation, as it often
contains empirical information from many different perspectives. Within qualitative
case studies, interviews, observations and secondary data is commonly used.
(Merriam,
1994)
The case is based on interviews

with
managers at Findus and researchers within
the field. The interviews were supplemented with observations of how the crisis has
developed in social media during a specific time frame. Interviews with consu
mers were
conducted in order to get a richer picture of how consumers respond to social media
communication and reason regarding crises.
Secondary data also contribute to our
study.
Bryman and Bell (2011, p. 397) define triangulation as “
entails using more

than
one method or source of data in the study of social phenomena”.
We have achieved
triangulation and ensured the trustworthiness, by combining interviews with several
different parties, with observations and secondary material.


2.3.1

Observations

An obser
ver can have more or less interaction and we have chosen to take the role as
complete observers, which mean that we have not been participating by asking
questions or leaving comments regarding the horsemeat fraud in social media
(Easterby
-
Smith, Thorpe an
d Jackson, 2012).
The observations examined how Findus
acted, what was being said about the company and the crisis in social media, and how
Findus responded to it.
The aim with the online observations was to obtain an accurate
view of how the crisis was ha
ndled and how consumers have responded to it in social
media.

Initially we did a pre
-
observation, which included Findus’ Facebook page, Twitter,
YouTube channel, Instagram and corporate webpage blog. We also observed how other
companies who had been affect
ed by the horsemeat fraud acted in social media. Findus
have not used Instagram in its crisis management, so we decided not to continue the
observation on that platform. Findus have uploaded several videos on YouTube, but they
7


have received more comments r
egarding the videos on Facebook than on YouTube, so
we decided that it would be more interesting to observe users’ reactions to the videos on
Facebook. Findus has not received any consumer comments on their blog. They have
linked to blog posts on their Fac
ebook page, which has generated some comments on
Facebook though. Thereafter we concluded that an observation of Findus Facebook page
would probably generate the most interesting material, but we decided to observe
Twitter as well, in order to compare the
interactions on the two platforms. Two of the
blog posts were also used for getting reactions during our consumer interviews (see
appendix 3). Our pre
-
observation has also given rise to some of our questions to the
employees at Findus. The pre
-
observations

of other companies showed that Findus have
had a far more active crisis management in social media than its competitors, but we
have chosen not to take this comparison forward.

All the observed material on Facebook and Twitter between the 8
th

of February 2013
and the 9
th

of April 2013 have been copied and saved in two documents, in order to
ensure that all posts and comments that are used as empirical material are available for
review. The document with excerpts from Facebook consists of 1131
pages while the
excerpt from Twitter consists of 15 pages. The 8
th

of February was chosen since it was
the first day that Findus informed about the horsemeat fraud in social media. The 9
th

of
April was the first day of the
open house event

and we could the
refore observe how users
reacted on the material that was posted in social media regarding the first event. We
have continued to observe how Findus acts in social media even after the 9
th

of April
2013, but because of time constraints, this has not been in
cluded in the empirical
material. Due to ethical considerations, we have only included the observed consumers’
first name in the study. However, we have chosen to keep their real names in order to
enable the reader to explore the observed conversations in
social media further.

2.3.2

Interviews

According to Bryman and Bell (2011) interviewing is probably the most widely used
method within qualitative research and the most common types are unstructured and
semi
-
structured interviewing. We have chosen to conduct se
mi
-
structured interviews,
which mean that the interviews have followed an interview guide, but we have also
picked up on other interesting things that the interviewees have said. Since we had a
fairly clear focus of what we wanted to research and how the d
ata was going to be
8


analyzed, we found semi
-
structured interviews most suitable. Semi structured
interviewing is also preferred if there are more than one person who collects the
empirical data. (Bryman & Bell, 2011)

The interview questions are based on th
e theories in our literature review, but also on
our observations in social media. We have made an effort to make them open ended and
without bias. Both of us participated during the interviews with employees at Findus
and with the researchers at Lund Univ
ersity. This choice was made in order for both of
us to be as familiar with the material as possible, but also to give both the chance to ask
follow
-

up questions. Bryman and Bell (2011) state that multiple interviewers can add a
more informal atmosphere s
ince it can be seen as a conversation between three people.
However, the authors state that this is not suitable for all social settings and that some
can find it more intimidating to talk to two researchers. During the consumer
interviews it was importan
t to create a friendly atmosphere in order for them to feel as
comfortable as possible to share their own habits and opinions. We therefore decided to
conduct the consumer interviews without the other one’s presence. All interviews have
been recorded and t
ranscribed as a whole. The transcriptions consist of 70 pages with
employees at Findus, 18 pages with researchers and 141 pages with transcribed
material from the consumer interviews. In addition, all of our selected interviewees have
participated in the s
tudy.

2.3.2.1

Findus

We have conducted four in
-
depth interviews with three employees at Findus in order to
assure empirical saturation (See appendix 1 for the Findus interview guide). On the 16
th

of April 2013 three separate interviews were conducted at Findus’ head office in Bjuv.
The first interview was with Anna Broekman, Communication & Public Relations
Manager, and lasted for 1 hour and 12 minutes. She gave an introduction on how Findus
work
with communication and how the horsemeat crisis has been handled. Thereafter
Hanna Kramer, Communicator & Web Editor gave an interview about Findus’ operative
work in social media, which lasted for 41 minutes. Lastly, a 44 minutes long interview
about Find
us’ corporate brand was held with Jonas Wistrand, Brand & Concept Leader.
All three interviews focused on what Findus has chosen to call phase 1
,

the crisis phase
,
which is the first part of the communication strategy of Findus’ crisis management.

9


The f
ourth interview was held with Anna Broekman, Head of Communication & Public
Relations on the 26
th

of April 2013. This time she focused on their content management
in social media during
the brand phase

(phase 2). This interview was also held in Bjuv
and la
sted for 48 minutes.

Most of the questions in the interview guide were open ended and followed up with
supplementary questions during the interviews. The representatives at Findus received
the interview questions in advance, in order to give them the opp
ortunity to think
through their answers beforehand. We believe that this contributed to a more friendly
and relaxed feeling since they did not have to worry about difficult questions. The fact
that the interviews were held at their office in Bjuv hopefully

contributed to a more
comfortable atmosphere. In order to increase the trust, we informed them that they
would have the opportunity to read through the material, and that they could just let us
know during the interview if there was anything they mentione
d that they not wanted
us to write about.

During the interviews with the Communication & Public Relations Manager, she spoke
freely from the questions she had received and introduced us to the topics we were
interested in, while the other two interviews co
ntained more specific questions. The
interview guide was not strictly followed but we made sure that all areas were covered.
Regarding the selection of interviewees at Findus, we contacted
their

HR Manager and
we were then referred to the Communication & P
ublic Relations Manager at the
company. After having described our research problem and that we would like to
conduct three to four interviews, she suggested that we should interview her, the
Communicator & Web editor and the Brand & Concept leader. This s
election process is
similar to what
Easterby
-
Smith, Thorpe and Jackson (2012) describe as snowball
sampling. We are satisfied with this choice of sampling method, since we believe that the
managers at our case company are more qualified to determine the mo
st suitable
employees for interviews than we are.

2.3.2.2

Researchers

Because of the limited amount of theory regarding brand crises in social media, we have
also chosen to conduct two interviews with consultants and researchers within the field
(see appendix 2
for the researcher interview guide). Mats Urde is Associate Professor in
10


Brand Strategy at Lund University, but he also gives speeches and consulting in the field.
He has recently got a new article about corporate brand identity accepted and gave a
telepho
ne interview on the 18
th

of April 2013, which lasted for 27 minutes. Veronika
Tarnovskaya, Associate Professor in marketing and docent at Lund University, teaches in
both branding and Internet marketing and is currently giving an executive course in
Social Media Management. She g
ave a 30 minutes interview at her office in Lund on the
22
nd

of April 2013.


2.3.2.3

Consumer interviews

In order to gain a deeper understanding of the consumers’ reactions, the online
observations were supplemented with semi
-
structured consumer interviews. We
ass
umed that all users do not write comments to companies in social media and the
consumer interviews enabled us to interview persons that had read about the
horsemeat crisis in social media, but not necessarily had commented on it online.
Moreover, it is har
d to know whether those who leave comments in social media are
writing as consumers, or if they have other underlying motives.

During the consumer interviews we followed the order of the interview guide more
strictly. To avoid influencing the consumers’ a
nswers, the more specific questions about
Findus was saved until the end of the interviews. We therefore started the interview by
asking generally about social media in relation to company crisis (see appendix 3 for the
consumer interview guide).

Our way
of choosing respondents is similar to what usually is described as
convenience

sampling

(Bryman & Bell, 2011). According to Easterby
-
Smith, Thorpe and
Jackson (2012) this method cannot guarantee that the sample is representative for the
specific population

of interest, but they further state that data collected through this
sampling method can be useful, but that it depends on the aim with the study. Since this
is a qualitative study, our primary goal is not to make generalizations, but instead to gain
a de
ep understanding about consumers
reasoning around crisis communication. We
therefore find it highly essential that the chosen interviewees feel comfortable to talk
about their own habits, opinions and reactions. To create a relaxed feeling we let the
inter
viewees choose the place for the interviews, with the restriction that it should be a
quiet place, so that we could record the conversation. A majority of the interviewees
11


wanted to be interviewed in their own home and the rest of the interviews were held
in
our homes. Most of the interviewees were offered coffee, cake or lunch in connection to
their participation. To increase the respondents’ trust, we have chosen to interview
respondents from our acquaintance, since we believe that it will result in more

comprehensive answers. The interviewees were selected on the basis of including
respondents in different ages between 20
-
65 years. Both genders were selected, but
with a majority of women since they often are seen as target buyers for these kinds of
produ
cts. Initially we were planning to only interview consumers who were registered
and active on at least one social media platform. But we reconsidered this and decided to
conduct two interviews with consumers who were not registered on any social media
site
s, in order to investigate if we could see any differences between these groups. Other
criterions for the sampling have been that they must be involved in the household
grocery shopping and that it happens that they buy readymade food or semi
-
finished
prod
ucts. The interviews

were

conducted

between the

11
th
of April till the 15
th

of

April
2013. Regarding the number of interviews, we felt that we had reached empirical
saturation after eight consumer interviews, which means that we do not believe that
additio
nal interviews would have provided any new relevant insights to our empirical
categories
(Bryman & Bell, 2011).

In order to receive as truthful answers as possible, we have chosen to anonymize the
consumer interviews. The list below consists of feigned nam
es, but can be used to
deduce the interviewees’ gender, age, and social media habits.

Interviewees

Age

Registered on any social
media platform

Adam

25

Yes

Alice

32

Yes

David

44

Yes

Kristina

49

No

Mark

28

Yes

Mary

46

Yes

Mia

23

Yes

Ruth

63

No

Figure 1
:

Overview of consumer respondents



12


2.4

Analysis approach

The observed material was reviewed and categorized after tendencies. We have partly
analyzed how the case company has acted in their crisis communication and how social
media users have reacted. Great emphasis has been put on the interaction between the
ca
se company and the social media users.

Initially we processed the material from the interviews separately and marked out what
we thought was most important and interesting in relation to our purpose. We also
reflected on the relationship between the find
ings and our chosen literature. The
consumers’ responses were compared with each other to get an overview of the
tendencies. The responses were structured according to various topics and the
consumers’ replies were combined with the answers from our case c
ompany and the
interviewed researchers. It was also compared with the observations. As mentioned
previously, our abductive approach has enabled us to move back and forth between
theory and our empirical findings and thus adjust the chosen literature to ou
r empirical
findings.

We have chosen to present the empirical data and analysis in the same chapter to
minimize repetition. We also believe that a presentation by subject provides a better
overview than if the empirical results from observations and inter
views with
consumers, the case company and researchers had been presented separately.

2.5

Trustworthiness and authenticity

According to Bryman and Bell (2011) the quality issues of validity, reliability, and
generalizability was first used for quantitative st
udies, and it can therefore be
problematic to apply it on qualitative studies. Lincoln

and Guba (1985) argue that the
terms validity and reliability are based on the assumption of one single truth. They
therefore state that since qualitative research is ba
sed on the assumption of several
possible realities, qualitative research need to use other measures of quality. The
authors propose that researchers should use the criteria trustworthiness and
authenticity in order to ensure the quality of the study. We h
ave chosen to use
Lincoln

and Guba’s (1985) criteria to ensure the quality of our study and a more detailed
description will therefore be presented below.

13


The concept of trustworthiness includes credibility, transferability,
dependability

and

conformabilit
y.

Credibility is used instead of validity and implies that
the research is reasonable, which can be ensured by presenting the research findings to
the persons who have been a part of the study in order to
make sure that you have
understood

it. (Lincoln &

Guba, 1985) In order to reduce the risk of misunderstandings
and thereby increase the credibility, we have asked our case company and the
interviewed researchers to go through our empirical material and confirm that we have
understood them correctly. To e
nhance the credibility further we have chosen to
provide an example of one transcribed interview (in Swedish) in appendix 4. Another
term that Lincoln and Guba (1985) suggest instead of validity is transferability. The
authors argue that in qualitative st
udies the most important regarding transferability is
to provide a thick description to enable the reader to evaluate if the finding will be true
in another time or context. In order to ensure transferability, we have done our best to
provide a rich descri
ption of our case company and the interviewed consumers’
reflections. We have therefore included many citations from our interviews. However, it
should be mentioned that since the characteristics of social media constantly are
developing, there is a time l
imit for the transferability of the study.

Dependability is used instead of reliability and is concerned with
that

all stages of the
research process shall be documented and easily accessible. Peers shall then review the
research to make sure that adequat
e practices have been followed. (Lincoln & Guba,
1985) In order to increase the dependability, both our supervisor and peers have
reviewed our work several times during the course. Since complete objectivity is hard to
reach, Lincoln

& Guba (1985) argue th
at qualitative researchers shall strive for
conformability. They argue that the researcher must make sure that personal values do
not affect the research and we have done our best to live up to this criterion.

The concept of authenticity aims to raise the

issues of research from a more political
perspective. One of the criteria within the concept is fairness, which implies that the
research shall represent different perspectives of members in the social setting. The
other criteria are
ontological authentic
ity, educative authenticity, catalytic authenticity
and tactical authenticity. They evaluate if the study has helped the members to better
understand their social setting and each other, and if it has inspired and empowered
them to change their context. (
Lincoln & Guba, 1985)


14


Bryman and Bell (2011) argue that the authenticity concept is controversial and state
that it has not been as widely used as the concept of trustworthiness. We still find the
principles valuable and our ambition has therefore been th
at the study also shall bring
value for our case company.

2.6

Critical reflections

One aspect worth considering is the fact that body language is not shown through
recordings, which means that these linguistic nuances not are included in the
transcriptions. I
t can also be difficult to capture tone of voice and irony. We have been
aware of these difficulties and thus done our best to make sure that the transcriptions
and our interpretations of them are as accurate as possible. Laughter is for example
included i
n the transcriptions and we also took notes of any body language that we
found significant. Another aspect that we find worth mentioning is the fact that the study
will be published may have influenced the information given from the case company.
One possi
ble solution to this problem is to anonymize the company, but we have chosen
not to, since we think it makes the case more interesting. Now the reader can do an own
observation of the case in social media, which increases the credibility of the study. It
a
lso increases readers’ ability to determine the transferability to another context.

We did not want language barriers to affect the richness in our empirical material. Since
the study has been conducted in Sweden, most of the interviews have been held i
n
Swedish (except the interviews with researchers, which mainly were held in English).
These transcripts are in Swedish but we have translated the citations into English. Even
though we consider our
self
capable of the task, we would like to point out that

we are
native Swedish speakers and not professional translators. Text and citations which
concerns statements from researchers or the case company have been proofread by
themselves in order to avoid misunderstandings.

As previously mentioned, the pre
-
ob
servations showed that Findus have had a more
active crisis management communication than many of the other affected companies.
We are very satisfied with the way we have chosen to design our research but if the
study had covered a longer period of time, w
e would have liked to compare Findus’
crisis communication management in social media with some of the other companies
who were affected by the horsemeat fraud.


15


3

LITTERATURE REVIEW

The purpose of this chapter is to present and explain different theories
and concepts that
are relevant to understand the relationship between theory and empirics that are
presented in the next chapter. We bring together theories of corporate branding, crisis
management and social media in order to facilitate the study of how s
ocial media can be
used in a brand crisis
.
The chapter is divided into three sections and starts with a review of
theories about corporate brands in order to under
stand the concept of reputation, which

has

a significant role in our study. In the second sec
tion we present a definition of crisis
management and provide an overview of essential theories of the subject. The final chapter
introduces important concepts and specific guidelines for the process of branding in the
landscape of social media, in order t
o show the differences of online and offline behavior.
The theories presented in this chapter
,

aim to provide the reader with an understanding of
the dominant t
hemes of the empirical material, which
will be presented in the next
chapter.

3.1

Corporate branding

There is an agreement among authors that there are several differences between
product brands and corporate brands, and how these two should be handled (Balmer,
1998; Aaker 2004; Urde, forthcoming). Since the case company of this study is
undergoing a rep
utational brand crisis that regards their corporate brand, it is essential
to take the starting point in theories of corporate branding. Aaker (2004) states that a
corporate brand is different from a product brand in the sense that it symbolizes both an
or
ganization and a product. A corporate brand is the identity of the organization, which
creates both images and expressions that builds expectations among stakeholders
(Abratt & Kleyn, 2011). The corporate brand plays an important part in creating
awareness

and recognition, but it also work as an assurance indicator (Balmer & Gray,
2003). Some authors argue that corporate branding is a communication tool that
corporations should use to express their identity (Kay, 2006). The aim of corporate
brands is to eas
e the communication of the brand values and be of guidance for all
reasoning and action within a corporation (Tarnovskaya, Elg & Burt, 2008). In order to
succeed in creating a successful corporate brand it is required that the

entire
organization, from top to bottom, work in the same direction and that all departments in
the organization are involved in the process (Hatch & Schultz, 2003). Urde (2009) claim
16


that a corporate brand is built up from the inside and out and that a b
rand cannot be
stronger externally than internally. According to Balmer and Greyser (2006) various
concepts that often have been used in connection to corporate branding are; corporate
identity, corporate image, corporate reputation, and corporate communic
ations. Balmer
(1998) has also introduced a new area to the field that he calls corporate marketing. He
argues that the concepts corporate identity, corporate branding, corporate
communications, and corporate reputation should be integrated under the same
umbrella name of corporate marketing. Balmer and Greyser (2006) argue that the
concept corporate marketing is both powerful and practical.

3.1.1

The Corporate Brand Identity Matrix

A well
-
defined corporate brand identity is the foundation of the management of s
uch a
brand (Aaker, 2004; Balmer, 2008; Urde, 1994; 2003). Since brand identity is the basis
of the work with corporate brands, it is also
essential

for this study
, since

the case
company regards a company with a corporate brand. As corporate brand identit
y is the
foundation in the traditional management of corporate branding, it may also be a central
concept for management
of corporate branding through social media. According to Urde
(forthcoming) the definition and alignment of corporate brand identity is

a strategic
intent that aims to answer the question how the management wants the corporate
brand to be perceive
d by internal and external stakeholders. Generally the management
task of defining and aligning identity is more complex than in the case of pro
duct brands,
since the management

for example needs to consider that most corporate brands have
multiple stakeholders and they may cover broad r
anges of products or services. Urde

(
forthcoming) argue that there is a lack of a widely agreed framework that c
an help the
defining and aligning of a corporate brand identity. He believes that managers
responsible for the corporate brand have been forced to transfer principles and
frameworks developed for product brand management, in a context that in fact is
signi
ficantly different. Therefore, he has created an entirely new
framework that

provides m
anagers with a template for defining, analyzing, coordinating and building
corporate brand identity for improved performance. This framework has been named
the
Corporate

Brand Identity Matrix

(CBIM) and can be seen below
in
figure 2

(Urde,
forthcoming).



17



Figure
2:

The Corporate Brand Identity Matrix
(Urde, forthcoming).

The matrix consists of nine elements which define the totality of a corporate brand’s
identity. Its
internal (sender) component is

described by these three characteristics of
the organization: its
mission and vision
, its
culture

and its
competences
.

These elements
relate to the organization's values
and its reality, and represent the internal component

of the corporate brand identity. The external (receiver) component on the other hand
contains
value proposition
,
relationships

and
position
. These three elements have a
significant impact on the corporate brand’s image and reputation, and therefore they
m
ust be consistent with the
other elements in the matrix. The matrix also consists of
three elements that are both internal and external:
personality, expression

and
brand
core
. The element “personality” describes the corporate brands’ individual character
and
“expression” defines the verbal and visual expression of the brand.

The essence of
corporate brand identity is "brand core", which consists of the brand promise and
supporting core values.

The arrows radiating from the center symbolizes all elements of

the matrix that are connected and form

a single structured unit. This means that in a
consistent corporate brand identity, the core reflects all elements and vice versa.

Urde
(forthcoming) states that the matrix shows three different values: “organization
al”
(bottom row), “core” (centre of middle row) and “external” (centre of middle row).

18


The CBIM can be used as a management tool and in
f
igure 3

Urde (forthcoming) has
described each element by "guiding questions". The purpose is to

facilitate the initiat
ion
of a discussion of each element in practice.

Figure
3
:

Indicative questions for the application of the CBIM framework
(Urde,
forthcoming)

According to Urde (forthcoming) brand identity has long been a key activity within the

brand management discipline, and as our literature review has shown, brand identity
are the
foundation

of various elements within corporate branding. Parts of our study
include examining whether traditional corporate branding rules
also apply to crisis

com
munication via social media.

In order to analyze if corporate brand identity seems to
be important for our case company's crisis communication in social media, it is
important to have an overview over the components in a corporate brand's identity.

We
wil
l

therefore use Urde’s (forthco
ming) framework CBIM when we investigate and
19


present our case company in the next chapter, in order to draw conclusions regarding
this.

3.1.2

Corporate reputation

According to Frost and Cooke (1999) it is essential to manage identity for effective
reputation management, which the previous section also indicated.
Abratt and Klein
(2011) argue that corporate brands and reputation are central assets in enabling
corpora
tions to exploit opportunities and reduce threats. The authors suggest that
corporate branding and corporate identity

are primary drivers of a corporation’s
reputation management. The authors
thus

mean that there is a link between corporate
identity, corpo
rate brand and corporate reputation.

Corporate reputation has become an important factor in creating and maintaining
corporate competitive advantage (Fombrun & Gardber, 2000; Sims, 2009
; Albratt &
Kleyn, 2011
). According to Cravens and Oliver (2006) corpo
rate reputation can be seen
as an intangible asset that leads to three major strategic benefits. The first one is that
consumers prefer doing business
with organizations that own a good reputation over
similar competitors. Secondly, a strong reputation is

useful in times of crisis and in
helping the company to be sustainable. Finally, and perhaps the most important of them
all, is that it can lead to higher profits over time. Other advantages for companies that
have a "good" reputation, is that they are mo
re likely to attract and retain valuable
employees and a good reputation can also function as a shortcut signal to stakeholders
who are considering a relationship with the company (Frost & Cooke, 1999; Cravens &
Oliver, 2006). If a company has a good reput
ation, the corporate

name alone can work as
a
sign

to others that its products or services will be reliable and meet expectations.
(Cravens and Oliver, 2006)

According to Cravens and Oliver (2006)
there are no doubt

that the failure to manage
corporate re
putation can be devastating for a company. The authors also believe that
quick response and proactive efforts from a
company, suffering

by

anything that can
affect the reputation
negatively, can prevent

permanent negative effects on the
reputation. If companies instead adopt the strategy of denying, they argue that it may
take considerably longer time to recover (Cravens and Oliver, 2006)

20


We think it is necessary to clarify which definition of the term c
orporate reputation we
will use, since several different concepts have been used synonymously with
in

the
literature. First of all it is important to clarify that corporate reputation is not the same
as corporate image or corporate identity. Cravens and Oli
ver (2006) argue that
corporate reputation involves a temporal dimension that is not valid for the other two
concepts. In order to simplify, Frost and Cooke (1999, p.

2) explains that
“identity is how
an
organization

wishes to be seen, and reputation is ho
w an
organization

is seen”.

They
also state
that if an organization succeeds

with the management of their brand and
reputation, the two should be the same. Moreover, Albratt and Kleyn (2012) mean that
companies do not have one single reputation at any poi
nt in time. Depending on the
stakeholders concerned, the reputation varies. According to Schultz, Mouritsen and
Gabrielsen (2001) reputation is all about perception and less about a company’s “actual
performance”. Albratt and Kleyn (2012) mean that differe
nt kinds of brand
-
associated
stimuli (such as mass communication and employees) affect stakeholder’s perception of
a company, which in
a

long

term also affect the stakeholder's perception of the
reputation of the company. Coombs and Holladay (2007) argue t
hat second
-
hand
information, such as w
ord of
mouth, news and blogs also affect the reputation
developed. While the definition of corporate reputation is debated, we believe the one
proposed by Abratt and Kleyn (2012, p.

1057) is the most detailed and expla
in the
concept in the best way. They define corporate reputation as:

“a stakeholder’s overall evaluation of an
organization

over time. This evaluation is based on
the stakeholder’s experiences with the
organization

and its brand(s), relationships with these
and the
organization
’s employees and representatives, memberships of brand communities
and, any other perceived communication and symbolism that provides information about the
organization
’s actions and /or a c
omparison with the
organization
’s rivals.”

Frost and Cooke (1999) argue that brand management and reputation management are
very closely related and often involve working with the same techniques. According to
Frost and Cooke (1999),

reputation management

means that one actively work
s

to build
a good reputation and keep it strong
.
The authors
also believe that in order for
companies to succeed with this, reputation management must be driven centrally in an
organization. They mean that if the message is com
municated from various functions
within the company, the message might be inconsistent, which may damage the
trustworthiness of the organization. Frost and Cooke (1999) also point out that
21


reputation management is about ensuring that an organization’s valu
es in all activities
and all functions must take part in the management of reputation. Cravens and Oliver
(2006) argue that employees play an important role in managing corporate reputation,
since they represent the company and

have a face to face with the

consumers.

Each time
an employee expresses a comment about the company in a public environment, he or
she has the ability to affect the company's reputation.
(Cravens & Oliver
, 2006)

A difficulty

with the concept of corporate reputation is that it is hard to measure
(Wartick, 2002)
.

This is a major problem for companies that prioritize corporate
reputation, as it may be
harder for them to justify why it should be a priority, since it is
difficult
to assess whether specific activities can help to improve the company's
reputation or not (Cravens & Oliver, 2006).

3.2

Brand crisis management

Pearson and Clair (1998) state that an organizational crisis can damage the shared
meanings, beliefs and
assumptions.

Many crises are product related and can be caused
by defects such as design or manufacturing errors. Product recalls or marketing
mistakes can lead to a brand crisis, which effec
ts

both brand equity and trust. (
Dawar &
Pillutla, 2000)

Moorman,

Zaltman and Deshpande (1992, p.315) argue that trust is
closely related to insecurity and define it as


a

willingness to rely on an exchange partner
in whom one has confidence”
.

Dutta and Pullig (2011, p. 1281)
define brand crisis as
“unexpected events that threaten a
brand's perceived ability to deliver expected benefits thereby weakening brand equity”.
The authors state that this can threaten brand reputation. It also has a negative impact
on brand equity since it can reduce brand con
fidence, brand consideration and choice.
They further
argue that the response must be adapted to the type of crisis
(
Dutta &
Pullig, 2011)
While the definition above focuses on that it is an unexpected event, Dawar
and Lei, (2009, p
.

509) define brand cris
es as
“well
-
publicized claims that a key brand
proposition is unsubstantiated or false”.
The authors do not state if the event is
unexpected, but choose to focus on the fact that it shall be a
well
-
publicized
fact that
threatens the brand’s key offer. Furt
her they state that brand crises can damage
consumers’ trust for the brand
. We argue that these definitions complement each other
since both include important elements that the other excludes and a combination of the
22


two definitions will therefore be used.

We define a brand crisis as
unexpected and well
publicized
events that threaten

a brands key proposition or the perceived ability to
deliver expected benefits.

3.2.1

Consequences of a brand crisis

According to Dahlen and Lange (2006), negative brand publicity
is increasing and the
authors state that publicity often has a bigger impact than marketing since it often is
considered as more trustworthy. Moreover, research has shown that negative
information affects consumers’ brand judgments more than positive. (Dah
len & Lange,
2006) Bad publicity makes the company's advertising less efficient (Stammerjohan,
Wood, Chang, & Thorson, 2005), hurts reputation and image

(Dean, 2004),

lowers brand
equity

(Dawar and Pillutla, 2000)
and causes unfavorable attitudes and asso
ciations
(Ahluwalia, Unnava & Burnkrant, 2001). Brand crises can further have significant and
long
-
term effects if the brand fails to react in time (Farquhar, 2003).

3.2.2

Crisis management

The effectiveness of crisis management has traditionally been measured
by the amount
of negative media attention (Coombs, 2007, cited in

Liu 2010). Today it is not enough to
only consider the traditional media attention, crisis managers also have to consider the
amount of attention from for example bloggers (Bruns, 2007).

Sc
hwarz (2012) suggests that when the crisis is caused by human error or accidents it is
not a good strategy to blame others.
Greyser (2009) argues that the best way to handle a
brand crisis that is or will become visible, is to admit the truth. He states th
at the
corporation’s past and present behavior is the most significant in a crisis situation. The
organization

must address the problem and support it with credible communication.

According to Sweetser and Metzgar (2007) readers of crisis related blog posts describe
the crisis as less damaging than those who have not read any blogs, and those who have
visited the organizational blog
are the

most positive. The authors therefore argue

that
blogs,
and

especially corporate blogs, can be a successful crisis management tool.
Factors that increased the positive effect was the blog’s credibility, human voice,
responsiveness and if it was updated regula
rly. (Sweetser & Metzgar, 2007)

23


3.3

Social m
edia marketing

3.3.1

Social media

Chrisodoulides (2009) states that in Web 1.0, site navigation, speed of download,
personal support, delivery and returns were important cornerstones in online branding.
He argues that these aspects are still relevant, but they

can be seen as hygiene aspects.
The new features of
Web 2.0

include for instance interacting blogs, social networking
sites like Facebook and Google+, podcasting and video sharing. Chrisodoulides (2009, p.
142
)
states

that


p
ost
-
internet branding is about

facilitating conversations around the
brand”

and argues that nowadays, online branding mostly is done at the new level that
Web 2.0

offers. This has implied that brand managers have to share control of the brand
with consumers (Chrisodoulides, 2009).

In
the era of Web 1.0, consumers made use of different content on the Internet. They
watched, read and used it to make purchases. But consumers are now increasingly using
Internet to create, share and discuss content in social media. (Kietzmann, Hermkens,
McC
arthy & Silvestre, 2011) Kaplan and Haenlein, (2010, p. 61) define social media as
“a
group of Internet
-
based applications that build on the ideological and technological
foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated
Co
ntent”.
We will use this definition since it clarifies that it is based on the new
technological foundations of Web 2.0 and
states that

it enables user
-
generated content.

All social media sites are not the same, Facebook is for the general public but LinkedIn
has positioned as a professional networking site. MySpace, YouTube, Flickr and
Pinterest focus on sharing media like music, videos and pictures. Blogs have become
very

popular in the recent years and
t
he micro
-
blogging portal Twitter has also grew
tremendously
since it

was founded in 2006. (Kietzmann et al, 2011)

Kietzmann et al, (2011) argue that social media can have a major impact on both
company reputation and sales
. The authors argue that many managers seem unsure of
how to use social media, and consequently avoid
ed

it. They have therefore developed a
framework (see figure
4
) that specifies the functions and implications of social media by
using seven blocks: identi
ty, conversations, sharing, presence, relationships, reputation
and groups.

24



Figure
4.
The honeycomb of social media (
a
dapted from
Kietzmann et al, 2011)

In the honeycomb framework by Kietzmann et al (2011),
identity

concerns how much of
the users’ identity that is visible to others on social media and is determined by the data
privacy controls and tools for self
-
promotion.
Presence

measures degree that users see if
other users are available and
relationships

concerns

the degree to which users can be
related to other users.
Reputation

captures to which extent the social standing of the
users is known and
groups
measures the possibility to form communities and sub
-
communities on the platform.
Conversation

captures the d
egree of communication
between users and
sharing
measures

the extent to which information that is shared
between users. A brand can also be a social media user, and the authors argue that
companies can observe and gain knowledge regarding the functionality

and impact of
different social media activities, by analyzing the seven blocks in the honeycomb
framework. (Kietzmann et al, 2011)

When Kietzmann et al, (2011) analyze different social media platforms, they state that
Facebook’s strongest block is

relatio
nships,
but it is also strong on
presence
,
reputation
,
conversation

and
identity

(see figure 5).

YouTube’s strongest block is
sharing,
but it is
also good within
conversations, groups,
and
reputation.
They state that no social media

forum focuses on all of

the blocks,
but seem to cover three or four blocks.

25



Figure
5
:

The
functionality
of
Facebook

(Kietzmann et al, 2011)

3.3.2

Branding & social media

According to Armelini and Villanueva (2011), social media is often seen as a new
alternative to traditional media in order to build brand awareness. But the authors
argue that this is incorrect since Facebook, Twitter and other social media shall be seen
m
ore as a “café” than an advertising spot. There are different views regarding online
branding and how it affects brand management. According to Smith, Fischer and
Yongjian, (2012) the impact of social media can be both positive and negative for the
brand.
It might not be enough to just pick one social media channel, since the authors
argue that a company that overlook one social media channel might be missing out on a
great opportunity.


Kietzmann et al (2011) state that the first step for managers is to u
se their honeycomb
framework to identify and understand the social media landscape. They argue that it is
important to know in which social media company is most frequently mentioned. The
developed strategies must suit both the chosen media and the compan
y goals and it is
further important that the social media strategy is incorporated with the rest of the
marketing strategies. (Kietzmann et al, 2011)

26


Barwise and Meehan (2011) argue that it is essential to
get the basics right

if you want to
succeed in onl
ine branding, which means that social media shall be used to improve the
brand promise, innovate beyond familiar and build trust. The authors state that it is
more important than ever that brands possess a reliable and convincing promise that is
authentic
and relevant. They further argue that even though it is worth striving for a
viral success, it is also important to protect the brand.

Fournier and Avery (2011) present a different view that we choose to call
loss of control.
The authors argue that brand
managers do not have the same control of the brand any
more, and they therefore suggest that it would be more suitable to name it risk
management. Christodoulides (2009) shares this view and states that the old controlled
view on brand management does not
apply online. Instead, he argues for participation
and co
-
creation. Fournier and Avery (2011) state that social media
technologies have
empowered consumers and enabled them to connect with each other, which have lead

to a new era that is characterized by i
ncreased consumer power, transparency, criticism
and parody. The authors further argue that it is critical to be authentic in order to
succeed in the new transparent environment. They argue that an authentic brand is
open and honest since it has nothing to

hide. The connected consumers can now criticize
the brand in a much more powerful way than before. Brand parodies have existed for a
long time, but today the technology has enabled consumers to make and spread their
own brand parodies in a much easier way
. An interesting phenome
non

is that many of
the world’s largest and most iconic brands like Starbucks, McDonalds and Nike are also a
subject

for the most negative attention. The authors argue that this seems to be a
consequence when a brand is the product category l
eader. (Fournier & Avery, 2011)

Krishnamurthy and Kucuk (2009) confirm the view that strong brands attract more
anti
-
branding site
s.

It is important to
monitor

what is being said in social media (Kietzmann et al, 2011;
Smith, Fischer & Yongjian, 2012) in order to determine the current situation and how it
might affect the company’s future market position (Kietzmann et al, 2011). Smi
th,
Fischer and Yongjian
, (2012) further argue that it is crucial to respond when needed.
Barwise and Meehan (2011) argue that companies can take part in conversations as long
as they
follow the social rules
. Kietzmann et
al (2011
) stress the importance o
f having a
good understanding of how and when the company should join a conversation in social
27


media. They state that costumers want companies to listen t
o them, engage in what they
say

and respond in an appropriate way. They therefore argue that it can be

beneficial to
identify employees that are particularly suitable for this task. Even though Barwise and
Meehan (2011) argue that social media mainly shall be used for
consumer insights

and
not for selling, they also state that social media presence can hav
e a positive effect on
both brand awareness and sales.

We draw the conclusion that companies who
monitor
the web have a major advantage,
which we argue can be seen as both an opportunity and a threat, a fact that might
explain why researchers prese
nt

diff
erent views on branding in social media. Most
researchers see the same phenomena, namely a

loss of control
, which can result in co
-
creation

(Christodoulides, 2009; Fournier & Avery, 2011). Social media can therefore be
seen as a tool,

but in order to succe
ed companies must
get the basics right, follow the
social rules
, and use it
primarily for consumer insights

(
Barwise & Meehan
, 2011).




3.4

Concluding

reflections

The theories we have presented in this chapter are important for the understanding of
how
companies can handle a reputational corporate brand crisis in social media.
However, we conclude that there is no existing model that we can use for our study. The
theori
es are not sufficient enough to

be consolidated and form a model for effective
social
media management of a reputational corporate brand crisis. In summary, the
theory chapter has demonstrated that following factors may have an impact on the
management of a reputational corporate brand crisis in social media: proactive efforts,
transparency
, quick response and being aware of the different social rules on social
media. The theories presented in this chapter have formed the basis of our research and
will be used in an attempt to create a framework that answers our research question.


28


4

EMPIRICA
L FINDINGS & ANALYSI
S

The following chapter incorporates a presentation and analysis of the empirical data
generated by this study. The chapter is divided into four sections and it starts with a
p
resentation of the case company.
In the second section

the horsemeat crisis is presented as
well as Findus’
crisis management. Chapter three consists of a brief presentation of the
empirical data that emerged

from the study's observations and consumer interviews. The
final section presents the major themes wi
thin the empirical data, which ends with a
summarizing section where we tie together the analysis and present our own framework.

4.1

Presentation of the case company

The empirical data presented in this section is primarily based on the information we
receive
d through in
-
depth interviews with managers at Findus. We interviewed Anna
Broekman (Head of Communications & Public Relations), Hanna Kramer
(Communication Officer & Web editor) and Jonas Wistrand (Brand & Concept Leader).
S
econdary data
have also

been us
ed as a supplement.

4.1.1

Findus group

Findus Sweden AB is part of the Findus Group which is one of Europe’s largest
companies within frozen food and seafood. Findus group has a turnover over £1 billion
and 6000 employees around the world. (Findus Group, 2012a)

They are operating in the
Nord
ic countries, France, Spain and the United Kingdom

and are operationally
decentralized into three regional clusters, namely No
rdic, Southern Europe and the
United Kingdom

(Findus, 2013a). In
the United Kin
g
dom

the corporate b
rand name is
Young’s Seafood Limited and in the Nordic and Southern Europe it is Findus. The private
equity
firm TriPointe Capital Partners

together with Findus’ Investor Group
,

are

represented in the Findus Group board. (Findus Group, 2012a)

4.1.2

Findus Sweden

AB History

Findus Sweden AB is one of Sweden's leading food companies who introduced fro
zen
food already in the
1940's (Findus, 2013a).

They are market leaders in frozen food with
a turnover of approximately 2.6 billion SEK. Findus has about 800 employees

in Sweden
29


and their Swedish head office is located in Bjuv, where some Nordic functions also are
based
. (Findus 2011; Findus 2012)

In 1941 the confection company Marabou bought the facility in Bjuv and shortly
thereafter the company was named Findus (Frui
t INDUStry). Findus started to export to
other countries in 1958 and
1962 the Swiss food giant Nestlé

acquired Findus and they
formed Findus International S.A. (Findus, 2013b) In 2000 the investment company EQT
Pa
rtners bought Findus from Nestlé

and since
then the company has had a few more
owners. CapVest acquired Findus AB from EQT in 2006 and Foodvest was created as the
holding company of Findus and Young's Seafood. In 2008 the entire Foodvest group,
including Findus, was bought by the London
-
based priva
te equity firm Lion Capital.
Findus parent group changed its name in 2009 to the Findus Group, which was
decentralized into three regional clusters as mentioned above. (Findus Group, 2012b)

4.1.3

Findus


p
roducts and operations

In Sweden, Findus have more than 200 different frozen products and around 50 shelf
-
ready
grocery products in their range. They also have approximatel
y 350 different
products that are

only

being marketed and sold to restaurants and companies within the
food

service market. Findus sell everything from frozen vegetables, fish, and pastries to
prepared meals. (Findus, 2013a) They cook most of their food themselves in Bjuv, but a
few products are being prepared by other suppliers when they do not have the techni
cal
equipment needed. (Findus, 2013c)

4.1.4

Findus


communication and public relation
s

division

According to the Head of Communication & Public Relations, the role of the
communication division is to manage and coordinate all communications aimed at
creating on
e single desired corporate image among all stakeholders

by whom the
company depend

on

(general public, customers, media, consumers, employees etc) to
transmit coherence, credibility and ethics. The division consists in the Head of
Communication & Public Re
lations, Web and Social media, Public relations, CSR and
Consumer contact services. Crisis
communication is a part of the responsibility of the
division as well as daily media and social media monitoring and stakeholder dialogues.

30


According to the Head of
Communication & Public Relations, the division is a corporate
function with direct reporting to the CEO. Previously it was part of the marketing
division and

also included purchased media management (advertising planning).

4.1.5

Findus


marketing division

Findus

marketing department consists of one brand and concept department, one
commercial department consisting with employees from both the former sales and
marketing department and one portfolio department that control the existing portfolio
of store promotions

etcetera. The Brand & Concept Leader describes his department
role like this:

"To clarify our role, you can say that it is our department who do the recommendations, so to
speak. We do the recommendations, but we do not have the mandate to take the final decision.
Sometimes we do this in collaboration with a communications agency th
at functions as our
gatekeeper and make sure that we do not become too internal. Otherwise, it can easily happen.
If we set up a strategy that is relevant for us here at the company, but not for people on the
outside, it is a fairly unnecessary strategy.
(Own translation)

He also explained that he and his department also are involved in the strategic work
with social media, because it is important that the communication spread is consistent:

"Operationally, we are not involved with social media, but strate
gically speaking, we are of
course very involved. Because it is part of how we communicate. We are the ones who design
the brand platform, and social media should reflect this as everything else."
(Own translation)

4.1.6

Findus


corporate brand identity

The
Find
us brand serves both as a product brand and as a corporate brand. In order to
get a deeper understanding of the case company and to be able to understand the
branding strategies which were used during the crisis communication, the first stage
was to genera
te an overview of Findus


corporate brand identity. This knowledge and
insights was primarily based on the result of the interviews with executives from
Findus. In collaboration with the
Head of Communication & Public Relations

at Findus, a
summarizing sch
eme that shows Findus


corporate brand identity has been conducted.
We

have

used Urde’s (
forthcoming
) CBIM matrix
,

which

can be seen below.

31




F
igure 6
: Findus Sweden CBIM matrix
1

Something that recurred in all interviews with Findus was
the
three ke
y words
transparency, responsibility and action. These words seem to be incredibly important
keywords at Findus and according to the
Head of Communication & Public Relations

these words permeate all functions within the company. The following citation indi