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Abstract

Increased usage of social media by consumers impacts businesses that find it necessary to participate to connect with customers. Because social media is conversational in nature, marketers have little control over the message, unlike more traditional forms of marketing communication. The purpose of this paper is to flesh out the tensions that exist as marketers deal with consumer-generated negative social media messages and present possible responses for marketers dealing with this form of negative word of mouth (WOM). Its contribution lies in unpacking options for companies dealing with such negative social media. Case studies and a conceptual model identifying possible strategies for businesses dealing with negative social media attacks are presented. The five general strategies identified are: delay, respond, partner, legal action, and censorship. Understanding and use of these strategies can assist businesses in dealing with negative WOM and can potentially help them protect their brand image and profitability.

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