The Impacts of Contextual Factors on Social Media Crises: Implications for crisis communication strategy selection

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The prescriptive approach to crisis communication strategy (CCS) selection has long been criticized for lack of flexibility and adaptability. To address this issue, this study proposes an emergent approach to strategy formulation by focusing on contextual impacts on social media crises and their implications for CCS. An online discussion on Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging platform, about a high-profile homicide in a McDonald’s restaurant, is taken as the case. Based on a multidisciplinary theoretical framework that consists of the theory of rhetorical arena and framing theory, an inductive framing analysis of 100 top forwarded posts indicates a complex negotiation process among multiple crisis communicators through various crisis frames. The results suggest that selection of CCS should be from contextually based behavior through investigating interaction among multiple crisis communicators and examining the contexts in which crises are situated. This study also contributes to advancing the CCS selection model of Situational Crisis Communication Theory by integrating contextual factors.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Communication Studies


  • strategic communication, crisis communication, social media, contexts, emergent, China
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-60
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Strategic Communication
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch