Why Social Media May Not Be for You… (Yet)
A few months ago I wrote a post for Mashable titled: Why Social Media Isn’t For Everyone. I wrote it out of direct experience counseling clients who were rightly concerned about the risks of exposing their brand to direct and visible customer feedback.
The main point of the article was this:
The recent posterchild for ” Social-Media-Gone-Wrong” is Nestle. I have been following the story at a distance and just read a post on the subject from BG Creative:
The short version of the Facebook disaster is this: Greenpeace is mad at Nestle over palm oil and a bunch of their members began taking to Facebook to express their outrage. They covered the Nestle Facebook Fan Page with wall posts and changed their profile pictures to altered versions of the Nestle logo to further make their point. The moderator of Nestles Facebook page became flustered by the outpouring of hatred, and responded in a manner that was just a little too human. Comments such as: “Thanks for the lesson in manners. Consider yourself embraced. But it’s our page, we set the rules” certainly didn’t win him/her any fans.
The article goes on to suggest some ways Nestle could have dealt with the “crisis.” In essence, “ignore it” “thank them and move on” or “respond with humor” –This is solid enough counsel now that the cat is out of the bag but to me there is a much bigger point to be made: Nestle should have seen this coming a mile away. Did they not know that they engage in practices that have given rise to activist communities? Did they not know that these activist groups are also very active on social media?
Deciding to get into Social Media should be directly related to a company’s willingness to either (1) defend a controversial position by having a direct and open conversation about it or (2) change policies to align with customer expectations. If the company is unwilling to go with either of those options – then perhaps Social Media isn’t the right choice. Specific to Nestle: If they believe that Palm Oil is the best choice of ingredient and can defend it (economics, politics, environment etc.) then they should do so openly. If they feel it is a policy that, when fully measured, does have serious negatives, then perhaps they should consider a shift in policy. If Nestle neither wishes to change or defend itself on the merits – then they shouldn’t be operating in social media.