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School of Business | Department of Marketing | Marketing | 2015
Thesis number: 13965
Adapting information in online brand communities: Protest framing in a neutral setting and the dissolution of person-brand relationships
Author: Kaskirinne, Aki
Title: Adapting information in online brand communities: Protest framing in a neutral setting and the dissolution of person-brand relationships
Year: 2015  Language: eng
Department: Department of Marketing
Academic subject: Marketing
Index terms: markkinointi; marketing; internet; internet; yhteisöt; communities; brandit; brands; suhdetoiminta; public relations
Pages: 74
Key terms: online brand community; protest framing; commercial failure; person-brand relationship; community engagement
The subject of this thesis is the adapting of information in online brand communities and how the adapting of that information leads to the framing of protests in a neutral setting and the dissolution of person-brand relationships. The goals of the thesis are to find out how infor-mation is being adapted in the online brand community, how the community members react to that information and how companies should arrange their communication efforts in light of the findings.

The theoretical basis for the thesis is brand community theory that begins from communi-ties and moves towards online brand communities. The brand community theory builds up towards relationship theory and the behavior of community members when facing commer-cial failures. Main frameworks that are discussed in regards of findings are the dissolution of the person-brand relationship by Fajer and Schouten (1995) and the protest framing tactics of Ward and Oström (2006).

A netnographic research was conducted based on the five steps introduced by Kozinets (2002). The netnographic research was conducted on the largest forum devoted to the book series and the television show. The data set included 19 topics with 3 774 total posts, from which 354 posts were selected for the final analysis.

On the basis of the data that was analyzed, the thesis offers four main findings. Firstly, in-formation was used as a conversation starter with sources being validated and discredited based on their link to the showrunners or the author. These validated information sources led the discussion towards a more negative tone. Secondly the community members took ad-vantage of all the protest framing tactics discussed by Ward and Oström (2006), but in addi-tion there were clear counter-tactics being used. Also the protest framing tactics were slightly modified by the protesters due to the neutral setting. Thirdly the person-brand relationship can be seen deteriorating. The commercial failures that the community members have expe-rienced have moved them towards dissolution with some members already nearing disen-gagement. Due to the shifting nature of the current situation, the change in relationship has not been as volatile towards the final dissolution. Fourthly the engagement to the online brand community has not suffered from the commercial failures as of yet, with topics still be-ing created and discussed on the forums. It can be even seen as increasing, but still the shift in the author's intrinsic motivations of altruism can be seen, which can have an effect on the community engagement in the future.
Master's theses are stored at Learning Centre in Otaniemi.