Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Nestle's Social Media Crisis

Greenpeace started a big global crisis situation for Nestle after posting an online video featured an office worker accidently biting into an orangutan finger instead of a Kit Kat. The video aimed to draw attention to the NGO's ongoing battle with Nestle over them using palm oil in their products.

Nestle have been bombarded with angry consumers on Twitter andFacebook with critical comments. Consumers have accused the company of ‘hiding behind PR spin', calling the company's response to the criticism a ‘major social media fail'. (PRWeek) Digital PR experts said the situation was quickly becoming a social media crisis.

Porter Novelli associate director, digital, Kerry Gaffney said: ‘Nestle's status updates are pushing people on to its official site to see its corporate response. Someone within Nestle is also responding to posts, but they are not corporate in tone and are juvenile. The company should be tailoring its response more to the environment with a more human tone.'

One of the things Nestle did wrong was to use a junior position to respond to the comments, but they should have used a more experienced senior position to deal with the online attacks.

Nestley thought they could get YouTube to close down the video and ignore the situation, which made it even worse, it was like throwing gasoline into a fire. The story blow even bigger! One user commented on Vimeo: "Thank you Nestle...I would never have seen this video if you hadn`t had it kicked off YouTube. Now I`m forwarding it all my friends, through Facebook, and guess what they are forwarding it all their mates. Fire your PR team. They are muppets."

Facebook has been hit worse, people was leaving critical comments on Nestle’s fan page, some criticising the company’s social media approach. For example, "social media is about embracing your market, engaging and having a conversation rather than preaching!" Which then resulted in more hostility from Nestle as they started to delete some of the comments.

After deleting, Nestley started to respond with juvenile statements like: "Thanks for the lesson in manners. Consider yourself embraced. But it's our page, we set the rules, it was ever thus."

This situation is a perfect theory example for a phenomenon called the Streisand effect. If Nestle reacted differently to the situation it might not have become a crisis for them. Use PR right: Don’t insult your customers. And in PR 2010, mind your behaviour in social media platforms — especially those particularly created for the fans of your company. Some say It may there is no such thing as bad press, but think twice when it comes to social media. Nestle is a perfect example.

What Nestle could/should have done:

1) When the video came out, respond where the attacks were happening and respond with the same technique.

2) Greenpeace have freedom of speech to spread their version, you spread yours. Never try do delete the content, as people will feel you are taking away their rights of free speech. After all, Nestle have good blogger relationships, they should have used that.

3) Point out that you are trying to make things better, but these things take time. In the meantime all suggestions welcome.

The way Nestle handled things Greenpeace achieved what they wanted with their campaign. Will this result in people stop buying Nestle products? Now on Facebook people are talking about boycotting Nestle products during Easter. The situation has resulted in revenue loss for Nestle; it will take them time to convince their consumers to buy products again.

This whole mess draws attention to what I think is one of the most important aspects of social media, which is the social media crisis plan. Clearly, Nestle had no such plan ready.

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