Detecting, preventing, and mitigating online firestorms in brand communities

Dennis Herhausen, Stephan Ludwig, Dhruv Grewal, Jochen Wulf, Marcus Schoegel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

178 Citations (SciVal)


Online firestorms pose severe threats to online brand communities. Any negative electronic word of mouth (eWOM) has the potential to become an online firestorm, yet not every post does, so finding ways to detect and respond to negative eWOM constitutes a critical managerial priority. The authors develop a comprehensive framework that integrates different drivers of negative eWOM and the response approaches that firms use to engage in and disengage from online conversations with complaining customers. A text-mining study of negative eWOM demonstrates distinct impacts of high-and low-arousal emotions, structural tie strength, and linguistic style match (between sender and brand community) on firestorm potential. The firm’s response must be tailored to the intensity of arousal in the negative eWOM to limit the virality of potential online firestorms. The impact of initiated firestorms can be mitigated by distinct firm responses over time, and the effectiveness of different disengagement approaches also varies with their timing. For managers, these insights provide guidance on how to detect and reduce the virality of online firestorms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Marketing
Issue number3
Early online date18 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • Message dynamics
  • Online brand community
  • Online firestorms
  • Text mining
  • Word of mouth
  • Community Protection
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing


Dive into the research topics of 'Detecting, preventing, and mitigating online firestorms in brand communities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this