Organisations' conversations in social media: applying dialogue strategies in times of crises

Stefania Romenti (Institute of Economics and Marketing, IULM University, Milan, Italy)
Grazia Murtarelli (Institute of Economics and Marketing, IULM University, Milan, Italy)
Chiara Valentini (Department of Business Communication, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Publication date: 28 January 2014



The aim of this paper is to develop and test a theoretical framework, grounded in managerial and organisational theories of dialogue, through which organisations can take decisions in relation to the most appropriate crisis response strategies for handling social media stakeholders.


The theoretical framework is developed through a conceptual analysis of literature on dialogue, social media and crisis communication. The theoretical framework is then tested in eight different international organisations experiencing a crisis. For each case, different web contents, such as organisations' status updates/posts, links, videos published on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, were analysed using a rhetorical research approach.


The analysed organisations apply different online dialogue strategies according to crisis types and in combination with specific crisis response strategies. Most of the organisations investigated carry on those dialogue strategies suitable to develop consensus (concertative), guide conversations on specific topics or issues (framing), find solutions to the crisis collectively (transformative). Concertative strategies were often associated with informative crisis response strategies, framing strategies with denial and justification crisis response strategies and transformative strategies with corrective actions.

Research limitations/implications

By using a dialogic perspective in setting up online conversations with their external stakeholders, the paper proposes a theoretical model to explain companies' decisions in carrying on online dialogues during critical situations and thus contribute to the body of knowledge on online crisis communications.

Practical implications

The proposed model can support crisis communicators to manage dialogue's aims and dimensions differently by taking into account both contextual and situational conditions.


By integrating management studies on dialogue into crisis communication and social media literature, the authors intend to offer an alternative thinking of organisations' decision-making in relation to crisis response strategies and social media stakeholders.



Romenti, S., Murtarelli, G. and Valentini, C. (2014), "Organisations' conversations in social media: applying dialogue strategies in times of crises", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 10-33.

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