Snowing, freezing … tweeting? Organizational Twitter use during crisis

Anders Olof Larsson, Pär J Ågerfalk


Since its launch in 2006, Twitter use has evolved and is increasingly being adopted in a variety of contexts. One such area of use is business, where companies have tried to establish practices and guidelines for company and employee ”tweeting”. This paper presents a study on Twitter use by SJ, the national Swedish train operator. The aim of the study is to investigate how SJ (known on Twitter under the handle @SJ_AB) made use of the platform at hand to communicate with customers during the tumultuous Christmas season of 2010. Specifically, the paper features the analysis of an extensive data set containing of over 3000 tweets tagged as relevant to the study and archived during the winter of 2010/11 using the YourTwapperKeeper application. By utilizing social network analyses of a large dataset archived utilizing state-of-the-art online applications, the study contributes to the development of scientific methods to handle large-scale online empirics. Findings show that while SJ are indeed utilizing Twitter to communicate with their customers, the discerned communicative patterns are mostly pertaining to what is described as an “office hour”-approach – making use of the Twitter platform in a way that largely conforms to established routines of organizational communication.

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