This article contributes to the current debate about the co-creation of brand meanings through social media. In particular, we focus on the construction and dissemination of negative meanings about brands. Through a content analysis of usergenerated contents published on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, we explore how consumers criticize companies’ use of palm oil. Specifically, we analyze the various topics that the palm oil issue is associated with (e.g., health problems, environmental issues) on the three social media platforms. Moreover, we investigate how the platforms differ in the language style (i.e., level of self-reference, cognitive complexity, detailed information and emotional references) used in the discussion about this topic. Our results have important implications for all companies facing brand crises through social media. Particularly, we show that, depending on the social media platform, companies should emphasize different topics and use diverse communication styles while responding to the crisis.
Keywords: Branding, crisis management, social media, content analysis, palm oil.