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Hate or Forgiveness: How Do Online Firestorms Impact Brand Attitude

STEINIGER, L. (2016) Hate or Forgiveness: How Do Online Firestorms Impact Brand Attitude.

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Abstract:In our connected world, nearly every internet user is using Social Networks. Many companies want to benefit from everybody’s commitment in Social Networks by connecting with (potential) customers. Most of these companies forget about the negative impacts a connected online world can have on their reputation: the users’ high interest in a company can also change into high negativity. Based on the speed and spread of Social Networks, negative news about a company can grow into something extremely serious within hours. This phenomenon is called an Online Firestorm, with hundreds and thousands of users interacting in a negative way damaging the reputation of the company in question. The current paper has studied the effects of a fictive Online Firestorm on consumers’ brand attitude. The data was collected via an online survey tool among German citizens. A research sample of 411 participants was randomly assigned to four manipulation groups with a Firestorm displayed in different sources (online vs. offline) and different social environments (with vs. without comments of others). Findings indicated that source and social environment seem to be irrelevant. However, severity of a brand’s failure seems to be the dominating variable. Furthermore, brand involvement plays an important role as a trigger for an effective Firestorm. People with higher brand involvement seem to forgive a brand and people with lower brand involvement score higher on brand hate. Since the research model was fitting poorly, a new research model was developed. Therefore, future research has to verify its applicability.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/71529
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