Complaint Publicization in Social Media

Alireza Golmohammadi, Taha Havakhor, Dinesh K. Gauri, Joseph Comprix

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Firms are increasingly turning to social media platforms for complaint handling. Previous research and practitioners’ reports highlight the benefits of complaint handling on social media, urging firms to provide prompt and detailed responses to complaints. However, little research has explored the possible drawbacks of such practices, especially when responses inadvertently further publicize complaints. Utilizing two unique data sets in a series of observational and quasiexperimental analyses, this research provides the first evidence of “complaint publicization” in social media, a phenomenon in which firm responses to complaints on popular social media platforms increase the potential public exposure of complaints. This negative effect can outweigh any positive customer care–signaling impact from firm responses. The authors show that a response strategy that engenders a high level of complaint publicization (e.g., providing detailed responses through multiple communication exchanges with a complainant) could negatively impact perceived quality and firm value, diminish the positive impact of a firm’s own posts, and increase the volume of future complaints. Additional analyses reveal that these adverse impacts are stronger for firms that are targeted by retail investors. The authors also uncover specific response strategies and styles that could mitigate these effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Marketing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • complaint handling
  • complaint publicization
  • firm value
  • perceived quality
  • social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing


Dive into the research topics of 'Complaint Publicization in Social Media'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this