All posts by ronja185

Each can help or hurt: Word of mouth influence in social network brand communities

Do you remember earlier this year when an infamous Swedish fashion company was very passionately and publicly criticized for a photograph including an afro American child and a sweater with an admittedly very controversial logo? This major PR fail lastly even lead to physical aggression in one of the brand’s stores in South Africa, but is only one of many recent examples where customers make use of their viral online voice (don’t get me started on German car manufacturers).

But what about you, do you follow your favorite brands on Instagram and Facebook? Do you maybe secretly bash or boost them yourself?

Power to the (online) people

Researchers have now found new insights into how negative or positive opinions of others influence our own behavior in such social network brand communities (fancy language for Facebook & Instagram page) and how this relationship is affected by the goal instrumentality of the community itself. Goal what? I knooow, but it actually sounds more complicated than it is – if you’re for example someone looking for like-minded people crushing on the newest Gucci coup (Drones on the runway, hello!) you pursue a different goal when clicking the heart and like buttons (what they call social-goal community) than someone wanting insight into the intuitiveness of the new Google Pixel’s menu (functional-goal community). Makes sense, right? So basically, goal instrumentality just means whether or not you find what you’re looking for on those  pages.

They found that both bashing and boosting have more severe implications if you’re more the Gucci type, meaning that opinions of fellow admirers will most likely enhance your own activity within the community (gimme those likes), whilst reading some douche bag hater comment is likely to kill the mood (get me outta here!). This is related to this notorious goal instrumentality – if your goal is to share those googly eyes then obviously other worshippers will help you reach that goal more than some questions about your fav brand’s sourcing choices (although maybe legit). If you do happen to stumble across some idiot who dares to disagree with your passion, consumers in those social-goal communities tend to have more negative reactions (First of all, ?!#*§) – I mean you gotta fight for what you love, right. And they need research for that, I know.

lacoste insta


If you’re however more the Pixel type (not judging, you wanna know what you pay those franklins for), some sassy statements may just be what you’re looking for – after all it can’t ALL be puppies and kittens and if you feel like pure glorification, might as well watch the newest marketing spot.

Okay, cool. And?

And why am I telling you this? First of all, you can fill the awkward silence when the small talk is over with the annoying colleague who just made partner sounding super sophisticated (who’s the star now?). And second, if you stumble across a second Gucci Facebook page for functional info only, you’ll know why. Or even better, if you work in digital you can shine in the next weekly meeting à la “You know, bad reviews are actually not always bad for us – maybe we just need a clear separation between social-goal and functional-goal communities and communicate this purpose to increase the customer’s goal instrumentality.”. Can you imagine your boss’ face?

In either way, it’s also shown now that deleting negative comments cannot be the solution – it decreases credibility considerably and can even harm your goal fulfillment. Take this, social media teams and let us rant (but also drool) in peace.

Nobody’s perfect

But despite these interesting insights, there’s also a few points those researchers didn’t think of – what if I for example, don’t follow a specific goal in hitting the ‘Like’ button and just want to be sure to always have the latest news and hottest content about new collections and collaborations (or maybe even surprise discounts)? Is this really a functional goal? And also, assuming that I follow a social goal of approval by my fellow brand admirers – what if we all agree that the latest collection was more toss than take, like in the picture below? It happens to the best. Isn’t the bashing then also part of my goal fulfillment if everyone agrees?

LV insta

For next time…

Maybe it would be helpful to further distinguish between certain types within these communities – hardcore fans who actually read through the comments and are ready to defend their fav brand come what may, “normal” people who mostly want to be up to date and enjoy content, but will not start a fight over the label to defend their passion and more passive users who hit the thumbs up ages ago, but are not really attached to the brand. Also concerning the studied industry a bit more variety would be interesting, since all of the four studies were treating an automotive context. Whilst I love fast cars myself, this is still a quite specific context and it would be interesting to see if the results hold up for other contexts such as fashion, lifestyle or tech brands.



Relling, M., Schnittka, O., Sattler, H., & Johnen, M. (2016). Each can help or hurt: Negative and positive word of mouth in social network brand communities. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 33(1), 42–58.

Hip teens do(n’t) wear blue jeans

Did you know that each year, 135 million kilos of clothes are burned in the Netherlands alone? And that producing one regular pair of jeans usually takes up to 7000 liters of water? This makes fashion the second most polluting industry. Shocked yet? So was Bert van Son in 2013 when he founded MudJeans, which is why he decided to offer an alternative to fast fashion after 30 years in the industry. “Sounds nice”, you may think. But how, and more interestingly, at what price?

Take an eternal classic piece present in basically every wardrobe and combine it with two of the most important social trends of the last years – et voilà Bert’s idea. What I’m talking about? Leasable, environmental friendly produced jeans made of a combination of recycled and organic cotton as one of the newest interpretations of the circular economy and general sustainability awareness. Yes, you read right, leasable clothes. If it it works for your car, why not for your bottoms? For a monthly fee of €7,50 (for 12 months) and a one-time only payment of €20 to join the community, you get a pair of brand new jeans, which you can either chose to return after 12 months in exchange for a new pair or keep them until they are worn out and you’re sick of them.

Either way, MudJeans relies on you returning the jeans once you’re done with them – as a little bonus they even offer a €10 voucher (or one free month of leasing) for future use on the website and in their stores. And this even for jeans from other brands, as long as they are made of at least 96% cotton. This way, the company gets to upcycle and renew those jeans that are still in good condition to be reborn as a unique vintage pair, which is even named after its former owner (how cool is that?) and to recycle the less lucky ones to become brand new material for future seasons and models, i.e. the circular economy aspect. Normal return options for wrong sizes/ colors and even a free of charge repair service are also part of the game, and MudJeans even treats you to the shipping charges.

Bildschirmfoto 2018-02-16 um 13.32.55

Fig. 1: Product Lifecycle at MudJeans, (16.02.2018)

And what’s in it for you?

A great pair of jeans is like a best friend: reliable, boosting your confidence when it needs uplifting and always has your back (literally). But finding the right one can be tricky (duhh) and once successful, you may discover that the washing machine is not a great match for your young love, or simply that you grow distant after some intense months together. And then?

This is where MudJeans comes into play: instead of hoarding these memories as blasts from the past and letting them rot in your closet, you get to refresh your wardrobe without feeling guilty or even lumbering your closet. And this at a reasonable price. In addition, you basically get to save the world with 78% less water consumption compared to a regular pair of jeans, also due to 60% organic cotton used and 40% recycled jeans material*. Oh, and did I mention that they’re vegan?

Sounds nice, but..

I know what you think. Green fashion? Really? But in this case, green doesn’t have to exclude stylish. On the contrary, the #mudjeans community is full of young, hip individuals caring about the environment and the way they consume – which should include us all. And with their vintage jeans they even offer you the possibility to own a completely unique pair, for example with patches and/ or the destroyed look which you can select after choosing a color and size. For €68. Whilst sustainable fashion used to be unaffordable and/or “basic” to say the least, times have changed. With MudJeans, you have the possibility to contribute to a sustainable way of looking good – at a normal price. Contrary to fast fashion you furthermore know about where your clothes are being produced – and not only in which factory, but who owns it, how it looks inside, how many women they employ and even how many holidays employees get:Bildschirmfoto 2018-02-16 um 15.33.52

Fig. 2: Quick Facts about Production site, (16.02.2018)

And apart from three sites in north Africa, this even takes place in Europe.

Bildschirmfoto 2018-02-16 um 15.08.25

Fig. 3: Excerpt from the #mudjeans community/ugc (16.02.108)

Where can I get it?!

Ok, calm down. I know it’s a great idea – so go on or visit one of their hundreds stores from Iceland to Melbourne and try it out yourself!


MUD Jeans International B.V. (2018). No title. Retrieved February 16, 2018, from

Saarijärvi et al (2013), “Value co-creation: theoretical approaches and practical implications”. European Business Review

Carson et al (1999), “Understanding institutional designs within Marketing Value Systems”