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School of Business | Department of Marketing | Marketing | 2016
Thesis number: 14760
Corporate reputation in social media - empirical study of consumers' perceptions of Marimekko's corporate reputation based on company and consumer communication on Facebook
Author: Halme, Merja
Title: Corporate reputation in social media - empirical study of consumers' perceptions of Marimekko's corporate reputation based on company and consumer communication on Facebook
Year: 2016  Language: eng
Department: Department of Marketing
Academic subject: Marketing
Index terms: markkinointi; yritykset; maine; sosiaalinen media; kuluttajat; viestintä; design management
Pages: 92
Key terms: reputation; maine; communication; viestintä; social media; sosiaalinen media
The objective of the study was to gain understanding how consumers perceive corporate reputation in the social media channels. The thesis studied how consumers interpret different informational cues they receive in the form of electronic word-of-mouth or corporate communications in social media, and how they evaluate the information to form an evaluation of a corporate reputation. The social media is an interesting context for the corporate reputation formation because consumers have the power to freely share their opinions about companies in there. Also, there is limited research of corporate reputation from the consumer point-of-view.

The theoretical framework suggested, that the corporate reputation construct is based on stakeholders' evaluation of the corporation on different dimensions: products and services, financial performance, good employer, environmental and social responsibility and customer orientation. In social media, the evaluation of company's communication is affected by how it builds trust, shows transparency and engages consumers. The influence of eWOM of other consumers is based on their credibility levels, which is affected by argument quality, social ties and interaction.

Marimekko was used as a case company because it is such a well-known company and its plagiarism scandal offered interesting case to study.

The primary data collection method was an online document review. The data was formed of Marimekko's Facebook posts and consumer comments in them and they were collected from Marimekko's corporate Facebook page. The sample was from a six month period from the beginning of May to the end of November 2013, in which the plagiarism accusations took place. There were all together 71 Marimekko posts, which had 1,417 consumer comments. The secondary data collection method was interviews. Three informants were interviewed to find out how they interpret social media communication. The data was reviewed and examined with content analysis method.

The findings indicate that the core actions of the company are the root of corporate reputation in social media. Most critical reputational dimensions for Marimekko were products and services and environmental and social responsibility. A branding dimension emerged from the consumer comments. The Q&A that Marimekko organized regarding the scandal failed as they were not able to transparently answer to consumers' questions and communicate how their real actions will solve the issue. In Facebook, companies should engage the consumers with customer oriented content, show transparency and signal trustworthiness with interaction. This would improve the evaluation of their messages. The findings add to the literature, that consumers can improve their eWOM credibility with telling about their own experiences and avoiding spelling mistakes.
Master's theses are stored at Learning Centre in Otaniemi.