Towards an integrated view of social media

What challenges are organizations facing when integrating social media, and why? How can they overcome those challenges?

These days, my “facebook memories” (and timehop!) is a constant reminder that this time 3 years ago, I was stressed out about finishing my thesis.

Maybe it’s just because of those reminders, but for some time now, I’ve been thinking about publishing parts of my thesis (the parts without confidentiality clauses). It seems a shame that those 100 pages and 8 months of my life should just be left on a shelf (or in google drive), left to rot.

It’s been 3 years since I wrote my thesis, and (unfortunately?) a lot of the topics and conclusions are still relevant: Organizations are still facing challenges when integrating and using social media, and the social media landscape (or digital ecosystem, insert your own terminology) is constantly evolving, affecting business processes along the way.

So, I plan to follow up with more parts, hopefully inspiring some dialogue and discussion on  the way: Towards an integrated view of social media – where do we stand in 2016 vs 2013?

From mass media to digital dialogue -Towards an integrated view of social media

My thesis process started in September 2012, and, as the title hints, focused on social media. I’ll post the introduction to my thesis in a bit, but first, some background info:

As far as social “media”  goes, a lot has changed since september 2012. I wrote my thesis before social advertising was a big thing. (During my inspiration phase, I heard Mikael Lemberg speak at Social Media Summit in Aalborg. He gave us a sneak peak at the next big thing from facebook: custom audiences). Naturally, the focus of the thesis was less on advertising and more on communication, with a view of social media as a nearly “free” method of communication (how things have changed!).

More importantly, the focus of my thesis was on “social” and the culture and mindset surrounding social media. This is where I continue to see problems, and where we haven’t moved as far or as fast as I would have thought 3 years ago.

Here we go…..:


In September 2012, I was lucky enough to be able to attend Social Media Summit 2012. The event took place in the aftermath of the Telenor crisis*. Many different organizations and communication experts attended the event, sponsored by KonXion, all looking for answers to the unanswered questions and uncertainties they had about social media. Should we be using it? How should we be using it – and why? How can we get better?

I left the summit with many more questions than answers. It seemed that many organizations were still unsure of how to approach social media – and the uncertainty was present on almost all levels: from existential questions, such as “should we even be present? Is this relevant for B2B organizations? Is social media here to stay? How do we handle loss of control?” to practical questions, such as “what should we talk about on Facebook? Who should be responsible for the different platforms?”? How do I convince upper management that this is important?”

On that note, this thesis is directed at anyone aiming for deeper insight into communication and social media in organizations. By taking a critical look at how other organizations use and view social media, with a specific focus on the challenges they have met, it is my hope that others can learn more about how to use and view social media. This thesis intends to help answer some of the uncertainties about social media, and perhaps challenge the way we currently think about social media.

Introduction to problem area

Numerous websites and consultants base their business on the idea that social media can be managed, controlled, and strategized. Sites such as,, etc., abound with different lists and advice for social media integration: “26 tips for integrating social media activities”, “The ten stages of social media business integration”, as if there is one specific solution to integrating social media. Meanwhile, academic research has shown that despite the growing use of social media, organizations are still facing challenges when using and integrating social media. In a recent German study, Linke & Zerfass (2012) concluded that “the integration of social media into existing structures and processes has taken much longer than expected” (Linke & Zerfass, 2012).


The literature lacks research on why organizations are facing challenges integrating social media, as well as how organizations should integrate social media in a way that makes sense for the individual organization. I would like to investigate how organizations currently perceive their use and integration of social media, and address the challenges they are facing when integrating social media. Therefore my problem statement becomes:

What challenges are organizations facing when integrating social media, and why?

And the secondary question:

How can they overcome these challenges?

This problem statement produces several supplementary questions:

  • Who is the social media consumer?
  • How has communication in organizations changed alongside social media and the social media consumer?
  • What benefits and challenges do social media bring to organizations?
  • How can social media be integrated in organizational communication and strategy, specifically into an Integrated Marketing communication strategy?”

*In August 2012, Telenor experienced a crisis on Facebook, where angry customers posted thousands of angry comments over the course of a weekend. The story was covered in national news.

Stay tuned for some actual conclusions and discussion 🙂

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