Social Media Crisis?

I read an article today about how Nestle’s Facebook fan page has been “hijacked” by people who are extremely angry with their new finding that the company uses palm oil in many of their products. Some suppliers of the palm oil “destroy rainforests” and there is a concern by many that too much of the rainforests will be destroyed by the time they switch to only “certified sustainable palm oil” in 2015. The 96,000 plus “fans” of the Nestle’s Facebook page are expressing their outrage and negative comments are plastered all over the page. Nestle addressed the situation on their Facebook page and directed people to a Q&A page about their palm oil suppliers; however their “fans” say the solution isn’t “timely” enough (changes to happen in 2015).

The Wall Street Journal posed an interesting question: Does Nestle keep their Facebook fan page running and “ride out the storm” or do they shut down the site and start over when the crisis has passed? This certainly got me thinking. There has been quite an emphasis about the importance of social media for companies in today’s economy. As a PR student, I’ve learned how much social media can greatly enhance a company’s revenue and reputation but on the flip side, there is potential for disaster. Is the saying “any press is  good press” really true? I don’t think so in certain situations unless it is the push a company needs to make significant changes that boost their sales and reputation. Although Nestle has received negative press, this could be their chance to boost sales higher than they have ever been, if they come out with a product better than their competitors. This is the ideal opportunity for Nestle to create a “purple cow” to revolutionize the brand. Companies should always be looking for  ways to improve their market share, so perhaps this is exactly what they needed. I believe they should keep their Facebook page because shutting down the page does not make the issue disappear. If they maintain their Facebook page, they could start sharing some immediate changes they plan  to implement, perhaps even incorporating “fan” suggestions. What do you think?

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4 Responses to Social Media Crisis?

  1. hhoma says:

    I agree that Nestle should keep their facebook page. I really like your idea of incorporating fan suggestions, as they could potentially turn their products around, like Domino’s pizza did after receiving customer feedback. They could even turn the negative messages from fans into a commercial, like Domino’s did, after they recreate their product. I think people really respect when a company admits their faults and not-so-good products and change them for the better. On the other hand, if Nestle were to take down their facebook page, it would seem like they were avoiding or trying to hide the problem, and that is definitely not something I would respect.

  2. jalbaz says:

    At my internship we had a lady writing very negative things on her twitter page and my company’s twitter page about them. They were very cautious in how they approached this, because they didn’t want to make her more angry or ignore it either. They decided to approach her privately but address the overall issue publicly on twitter and not remove her post from their wall. I think its very important for a company to have a clear social media contract and address all negative comments as promptly and efficiently as they would address positive ones. Nestle should have thought more about how to use social media to benefit them like you said, to turn the feedback into something productive and positive. They may have re-thought putting up a fan page during a time when people were very angry with them, in order to avoid making the issues so much more public, but now that they did they can turn it around and benefit from this if they approach the negative feedbacks and change their product etc.

  3. adouglas says:

    I absolutely agree. I think it is important to use these social media sites for two-way communication. Shutting down the communication entirely will do nothing for Nestle and if anything look suspicious. They should use this as an opportunity to show the public that they care and to take control of the situation. I think your proposal is a great way for them to do this.

  4. tmoore says:

    I strongly agree that Nestle should keep its Facebook Fan Page active and running because shutting it down would ultimately portray the company as weak and backing down to a little bad publicity. Nestle has a prime opportunity to incorporate its fans in the company to show their importance and appreciation by implementing something such as a “fans suggestions” application.
    I also think that Nestle can use its Facebook page and social media/networking to redeem its reputation with the whole “palm oil” controversy and regain credibility with its brand identity.

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