Have you already heard about the Nestlé Social Media debacle which occurred on Facebook last week? My mouth was wide open when I continued reading what was going on.
It all began with some Facebook users using the Nestlé logo as their profile pictures – displaying a nest of birds in order to call attention to environmental damage the company was alleged to be involved in. Nestlé was blamed to be buying cheap palm oil which, amongst others, would ultimately lead to the deforestation in its production countries (More details here).
Nestlé reacted and informed its 90.000 Facebook fans with the following post: “We welcome your comments, but please don’t post using an altered version of any of our logos as your profile pic — they will be deleted.”
Inmediately hundreds of “fans” started commenting to the feed. Paul Griffin tried to open a conversation with the Nestlé Group Moderator and posted that he’s “not sure you’re going to win friends in the social media space with this sort of dogmatic approach. I understand that you’re on your back-foot due to various issues not excluding palm oil but social media is about embracing your market, engaging and having a conversation rather than preaching!”
The moderator’s response was: “Thanks for the lesson in manners. Consider yourself embraced. But it’s our page, we set the rules, it was ever thus.”
Personally, I was shocked by the tone Nestle’s moderator used in this forum. It’s understandable that the company needs to limit the appearance of manipulated logos on members’ profile pages and to avoid negative PR. However, the way the moderator is talking down on the “fans” is not excusable. Further the fact that the debacle didn’t
occur within a closed Nestlé network but on Facebook, an open platform which you cannot easily censor, was a big mistake which totally backflashed on the company’s image.
Of course the storm quickly reached Twitter, with dozens of tweets about the debacle. “Watch Nestle self-implode and abuse their fans on their own Facebook page” or “The #Facebook #Nestle Mess: When #SocialMedia Goes Anti-Social” and so on.
It also had strong impact on the decrease of Nestlé´s shareprice:
Many well established multinationals from the old days still underestimate the power or Social Media and Online Communities. The Nestlé case shows that it should be taken seriously and not be neglected as an easy marketing or customer service job but that people with good relationship and conceptual skills are needed.