Tuesday, March 23, 2010

FAIL: Nestle's Social Media PR Blunder


One of the foremost reasons why engaging with social media can be advantageous to businesses is that they can catch customers' concerns about their company that they are sharing with their neighbours in cyberspace and address them directly before too much damage is done. Earlier this month, the people over at Nestle found themselves in some hot water (or shall I say, hot chocolate?) on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and numerous blogs.

The kerfuffle stemmed from a campaign that has been initiated by Greenpeace, accusing Nestle of "threatening the livelihoods of local people and pushing orang-utans towards extinction" due to their use of "palm oil from companies that are trashing Indonesian rainforests". Part of this campaign was a gruesome online video, which Nestle lobbied to have removed from YouTube citing copyright infringement. This probably wasn't the greatest PR move, since this stirred up even more controversy and conflict.

Round two of the battle between Greenpeace supporters and Nestle took place over on Facebook. Unfortunately for Nestle, their representative on Facebook did not keep things professional and later had to backpedal and apologize "for being rude" in his/her comments. Bridget Carey of the Miami Herald sums up the lesson of all of this pretty well:
"If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all... Companies can learn something from this moment... Companies use social media to present a voice. When people are screaming at you, it's best not to scream back."