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Pizza Talk IV: Fighting Back Shitstorms With An Army of Superfans

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Companies and their brands as well as politicians, governmental institutions, and celebrities increasingly face the impact of negative online WOM and complaint behavior. In reaction to any questionable statement or activity, social media users can create huge waves of outrage within just a few hours. These so-called „shitstorms“ pose new challenges for marketing communications in general and specifically for reputation management. The goal of any counter strategy is to individually destabilize as many people as possible in their negative attitude forming. Earlier research have shown that in this process so-called trusted sources come into play. Being a trusted source of information is, by definition, impossible for any company, politician, or other person or institution targeted by an upcoming online firestorm. Instead a target should be able to activate a critical mass of loyal advocates aka „superfans“. Superfans are a relatively new phenomenon in the culture of new media. The term describes loyal people or customers that are far more engaged then average fans. The behavior can be observed in cultural context such as sports or entertainment, but is not limited to these arenas. A network of loyal, well connected believable and therefore influential superfans may have a huge impact on the dynamics and diffusion of a shitstorm. In this talk we present first results of our endeavor to identify superfans in social media and to measure their possible alleviating role on the effects of shitstorms.

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Pizza Talk IV: Fighting Back Shitstorms With An Army of Superfans

  1. 1. Thomas Zorbach & Jürgen Pfeffer Pizza Talk IV: Fighting Back Shitstorms With An Army of Superfans
 SUNBELT XXXVI, APRIL 6TH 2016, NEWPORT BEACH, CA http://www.techinsider.io/star-wars-collectors-from-around-the-world-2015-12
  2. 2. About me Company
 vm-people, Berlin 
 University
 Karlshochschule International University Research focus
 New Media Culture Pizza Talks at Sunbelt:
 e.g. Impact of Online-Influencers THOMAS ZORACH – PRACTITIONER, LECTURER, RESEARCHER
  3. 3. We all have a fan-gene ...
  4. 4. http://www.people.com/article/world-cup-fans-photos-brazil http://www.techinsider.io/star-wars-collectors-from-around-the-world-2015-12 http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/fillipino-lady-gaga-fans-fight-back-against-anti-l#.dojYb07We http://www.scoopnest.com/user/MoneyWeek/615581098974834688
  5. 5. Motivation 2014 WAS CITED „YEAR OF OUTRAGE“ BY SLATE MAGAZINE
  6. 6. Definition “An Online-Firestorm is a phenomenon that describes the sudden discharge of large quantities of negative word of mouth and complaint behavior against a person, company, political institution or group in social media networks, often paired with intense indignation that has shifted its focus from an actual point of criticism. SOCIAL MEDIA CRISIS: ONLINE-FIRESTORMS AKA SHITSTORMS Pfeffer, J. & Zorbach, T. & Carley, K.M. (2013). Understanding online firestorms: Negative word of mouth dynamics in social media networks. Journal of Marketing Communications
  7. 7. Agenda Research questions 1.  What are superfans and how to identify them in social media? 2.  Is it possible to measure their alleviating role in a social media crisis? PIZZA TALK IV: FIGHTING BACK SHITSTORMS WITH AN ARMY OF SUPERFANS
  8. 8. Case study VOLKSWAGEN EMISSION SCANDAL http://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2015/09/29/cost-of-volkswagens-emissions-scandal-at-least-11-billion-analysts-say/
  9. 9. #dieselgate: The crisis unfolds •  September 18th – 28th 2015 •  More than 2 Million Tweets in only 10 days* •  Peak on September 23rd marks CEO Martin Winterkorn‘s resignation •  Curve shows typical pattern * http://www.visibrain.com/ http://www.visibrain.com/en/blog/volkswagen-dieselgate-crisis-twitter-analysis
  10. 10. #dieselgate: The Fan- Force strikes back •  At the peak of the crisis Volkswagen fans entered the arena •  Main plattforms: Facebook and Twitter •  Thousands of positive mentions, comments and tweets •  Memes https://www.facebook.com/Volkswagen
  11. 11. Observation VOLKSWAGEN-FANS ACTED AS A BRAND PROTECTION FORCE https://www.facebook.com/Volkswagen
  12. 12. Theory and Background §  Highly emotional §  Connected §  Loyal §  Communicative §  Engaged §  Missionary §  Hypercritical §  Possesive SUPERFANS: AN ATTACK ON THE FAN-OBJECT IS AN ATTACK ON THE IDENTITY Media studies: Fan-activism as sign of the 
 new participatory culture (Jenkins, 2006)
  13. 13. Theory and Background RUMOURS: THE IMPORTANCE OF EARLY AND TRUSTED SOURCES Political science: Early and trusted sources have the highest impact on attitude-forming processes 
 (Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975, 1980)
  14. 14. Case study #MEXICOGATE – BATTLE OF FANDOMS
  15. 15. #mexicogate •  KLM publishes Tweet after Dutch squad defeated Mexican team in World Cup 2014 •  Politically incorrect tweet leads to worldwide criticicm and crisis
  16. 16. #mexicogate •  Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal sends a harsh tweet in response
  17. 17. #mexicogate •  Focus of analysis on June 29th – 30th of @KLM-Tweets •  Graphs shows number of users from decahose-data (10% sample of all tweets) •  Peaks show response on KLM- and Garcia-Tweets •  Figure shows general characteristic of firestorms: short lifetime Number of Users per Day
  18. 18. #mexicogate •  Language from user-profile •  User-Hashtag-network for dutch speakers •  #nedmex removed •  Small number of dutch speakers were activated by KLM •  Few discussion, many retweets NE Language Users – Reaction of dutch fans
  19. 19. #mexicogate •  Large number of spanish speaking users activated by KLM •  Typical firestorm characteristics: large quantities of negative word of mouth aimed at KLM, paired with intense indignation ES Language Users – reaction of Mexican Fans
  20. 20. Findings •  KLM managed to activate dutch football fans with initial tweet •  Mexican actor activated his fans and fans of the mexican soccer team against KLM •  Mexican fans executed the firestorm against KLM •  Dutch fans didn‘t take up the fight to defend the brand, fans did not act as protection force http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/mexico-and-dutch-fans-soak-up-the-atmosphere-prior-to-the-news-photo/451438732
  21. 21. Epilogue •  Mexian flight carrier spinned the KLM-shitstorm into a positive message for his own brand
  22. 22. Next steps §  Quantification of superfan-criteria §  More detailed overtime-analysis of cause and effect §  Comparing multiple firestorms with respect to fan involvement PIZZA TALK IV: FIGHTING BACK SHITSTORMS WITH AN ARMY OF SUPERFANS
  23. 23. Our mission ...

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