Over the last decade digital technologies have significantly affected branding strategies and corporate reputation monitoring. Due to the diffusion of digital platforms, stakeholders and consumers have become more engaged in marketing strategies. Specifically, the "consumer decision journey" has represented a new paradigmatic shift in recent marketing literature. The advent of social networking sites has indeed caused an increase of digital touch points, which foster the connection between brand strategists and consumers. Hence, nowadays consumers may directly express their opinions about companies’ practices and products using the Internet. Because of this emerging phenomenon, modern marketing strategies are progressively focusing on preserving corporate reputations in the digital environment. In order to better understand how monitoring corporate reputations and responding to consumers to avoid the rise of negative brand perceptions, this explorative paper analyses the digital response strategy implemented by Eni, the largest Italian oil and gas company. The case explored consists of a digital investigation on Twitter, aimed at investigating how Eni’s digital counterattack strategies affected consumers’ perceptions after accusations moved by Report, a popular Italian journalism TV programme. The conclusions suggest that real-time digital counterattack strategies on social networking sites represent effective strategies to preserve corporate reputations as perceived by customers.
Keywords: Digital Branding, Corporate Reputation, Brand Image, Crisis Management, Social Network, Digital Investigation