Your Brand under Attack: Negative electronic Word-of-Mouth (eWOM) and online Firestorms in Social Media Part 2

Although the importance of this topic seems to be extremely high, research is still in its infancy. There is a wide variety of academic articles available that describe the changing paradigm of word-of-mouth, yet there is only limited literature available that examines how brands can deal with negative electronic word-of-mouth and online firestorms within the social media context. This may be connected to the fact that its emergence, its development and its consequences happened in a rather short period of time. However, from popular press articles, Thomas et al. (2012) gathered and analyzed a variety of company examples. Thereby, they identified five general coping strategies, delay, respond, partner, legal action, and censorship, which will be illustrated with cases below. 

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Your Brand under Attack: Negative electronic Word-of-Mouth (eWOM) and online Firestorms in Social Media Part 1

In 2012, just 39 cents were enough to trigger an ‘online firestorm’ that broke over McDonald's Germany. What happened was that the leading fast-food brand had raised the price of its cheeseburger by exactly that amount. As a consequence, many consumers expressed their unhappiness about the price increase by communicating their displeasure on McDonald’s Facebook wall (Frickel, 2012). This in itself does not seem to be unusual within the highly-connected online world in which many companies manage their own social media presences and respond to or interact with consumers. However, it becomes unusual if the number of ‘likes’ and comments on one critical social media comment rise to exorbitant levels. Within 48 hours 81,000 users clicked on the ‘like’-button and 6,800 users commented. The company responded one day later and announced that the price for the cheeseburger would not be raised in most restaurants (Frickel, 2012).

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Determinants of the Perceived eWOM Review Credibility Part 1

In 2008 Dave Carroll, a passenger of United Airlines, had a problem with the company, since one of the baggage handlers destroyed his 3500-dollar guitar. Dave did not obtain any compensation from the airline, thus he decided to broadcast a video on YouTube, “United breaks guitars”, which went viral in a few, reaching consumers all over the world, and causing remarkable financial losses to United Airlines. (Gensler et al., 2013)

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Anonymity a Double-Edged Sword: What are the implications of anonymity of the sender in electronic word of mouth?

In reality, everybody can create some sort of content on the internet, share information with others using different platforms as social networks, blogs, YouTube, review sites and so on. The internet allows people to interact with each other under a nickname or just disclose only a part of their real identity, generating what is called the online disinhibition effect, in which people change their behavior in the online world (Suler, 2004). In recent years the media and some studies have been worried about the effect of anonymity on the internet, arguing that it can foster a violent behavior and particularly in the case of electronic word of mouth can generate dishonest messages and un-ethical business practices.

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Power is shifting through social media, consumers are taking the driver’s seat

Power is shifting through social media, consumers are taking the driver’s seat, brands may find them self´s demoted to passengers. Social media has altered the power balance between consumers and brands. Consumers are no longer passive bystanders, they have the power to create content and affect brands in a way that before social media was if not impossible, at least extremely challenging.  However now consumers has a myriad of social media tool at their disposal, through which they can enforce power over brands and affect them in numerous ways. In other words social media is shifting the power, from brans to consumers. Thus the aim of this paper aims to investigate how consumers enforce their power is enforced on social media. 

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