Nestle learns the hard way

I love the saying work smarter, not harder. I think it applies to everything a person can encounter in his or her life, and now with the always evolving emphasis to use online media I think it applies to companies more than ever. Recently Nestle’s Facebook fan page suffered through a bit of a social media public relations crisis, which, in my opinion, could have been avoided.

Here is the rundown. Nestle creates Facebook fan page, Greenpeace and its supporters use said fan page to protest Nestle’s use of palm oil, Nestle representative panics and “snaps” back on fan page, Facebook riots and “twitstorms” ensue. Whew, what a mess.

Now, I understand the desire and benefits of getting online as a way to reach your supporters, however is it really necessary for every company to have a Facebook fan page, especially if they are aware of pre-existing issues that might be easily targeted? Now, Nestle is left with a fan page that they will have to clean up and restart, in a sense, while working to regain supporters they may have lost during the “battle”.

I recently read a blog on crisisblogger that discusses how news is distributed today; press release vs. social media. The post discusses two studies that debate the prominence and validity of both techniques. In the end, what it came down to is the fact that as people get their news differently, the news must be distributed differently as well.

There is almost a feeling of chaos in this; that many people cannot handle that concept and responsibility yet. I agree that changes need to happen to stay current, but we have all these companies out there, large and small, old and new, that are taking a lot of things into their own hands because they feel social media is easy to use and will without a doubt benefit them. Then things backfire, such as with Nestle, and in earlier years the SEO debacle with Dell. To me this not only makes the company look bad, but I think it makes public relations itself less effective if done carelessly.

In my opinion, I think companies are getting the wrong idea of social media, and hiring people who may not be public relations savvy to update and organize their sites. Then, once something goes wrong they are either left to deal with the consequences or they bring out old methods to work towards recovery. Luckily, at Cronkite we are becoming both of those employees in one.

Any thoughts on the matter? Are you for fan pages for all? Old-school techniques?

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One Response to Nestle learns the hard way

  1. jalbaz says:

    This is a great example of the problem of social media. Companies forget that social media sites such as Facebook are a two-way communication portal. When I interned for a non-profit biomedical research foundation, they spent months deciding whether or not they should make a Facebook fan page. They developed a social media contract and had meetings about how they would conduct the page. They decided if someone wrote something negative they would address it both on the Facebook site and possibly through other more personal/private means. So far it has been a positive experience for them because they were prepared, Nestle should have been more prepared. They should have assesed the pros and cons and decided how to deal with the two-way communication and negativity.

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