We let the facts do the talking.

Nestle should ‘take a break’ from social media

Managing an important account such as Nestle might be the ‘fun’ thing to do in social media, but was March 2010 fun for Nestle’s digital team? I don’t think so. To make a long story short, Greenpeace had something to say to Nestle. Not just anything, they were accusing Nestle of “threatening the livelihoods of local people and pushing orangutans towards extinction” due to their use of “palm oil from companies that are trashing Indonesian rainforests”.

Greenpeace created a video on YouTube that likened eating a Kit Kat bar to killing an orangutan.

Over a quarter of a million have viewed the video to date, and the crisis has exploded with altered images and videos that have been shared all around the globe on different social media channels. Some fans on Facebook have even displayed altered images of KitKat as their display pictures as they start to attack Nestle from their own home.

What was Nestle’s mistake? What should they have done instead?

First mistake – The first mistake Nestle made was filing a bogus copyright claim to take the video down. (There is no copyright issue in the video at all, so it was a cheap shot) The video had less than 1,000 views at that point, and (even if there had been a legit reason for taking the video down) doing so only drew much more attention to the issue, and the video quickly went back up on Vimeo, where it started getting even more views, a lot of which came because it was taken down in the first place.

What Nestle should have done was to simply allow the video to remain and continue to draw support from its throng of supporters. Something isn’t a sensation until we make it one, and nothing makes for more of a sensation than trying to silence a claim. Taking down the video also angered Greenpeace members and opened a can of worms which started the attack on Facebook. To make it less of an issue, Nestle should have let it be for the people to see.

Second Mistake – Nestle started to remove comments posted by people who had altered images of Nestle as their profile pictures. Nestle was furious and posted this on their wall:

To repeat: We welcome your comments, but please don’t post using an altered version of any of our logos as your profile picture – they will be deleted” – See snapshot here

Excuse me? Since when does a social media channel command its followers (if you can even call them that) to do such thing? Nestle was under attack already; asking them not to post and threatening them with deletion just made things worse.

What Nestle should have done was prepare an official letter by someone from higher management to explain the situation or come up with a better social media strategy for defending the brand. Giving orders is simply out of the question.

Third Mistake – Continuing the path on the wrong; they should’ve taken a right turn. Nestle kept on deleting comments and attacking people in a rude way – replying to fans in a sarcastic way and making them look dumb as if they didn’t understand a thing. The anti-Nestle people were offended, and the pro-Nestle people were too, when they saw how their beloved brand was attacking people for stating their opinions. Unlikes were no longer coming just from the foreign invaders, a mutiny started to form as well.

Nestle should have calmed things down, because social media is a very sensitive tool when it comes to big brands like Nestle. The least Nestle could’ve done was to not reply to the offensive comments; they could’ve just replied to the positive ones. To the attackers, they should’ve said things in a ‘professional way’ and posted updates about how they were dealing with the allegations – or why or how they were untrue.

Fourth Mistake – Nestle became weak as they started replying to non-fans asking them to leave if they were not truly loyal fans. They mistakenly touted the ‘we are a big brand and you can’t bring us down’ horn, which is not what you do in this situation. Being big, doesn’t excuse you from being accountable – in fact you are even more accountable – because in order to lead you have to lead from the front.

Tip: Do not talk about yourself or be the only voice in the room. People know how big you are, you don’t need to clarify that. That just made things worse as people set out to prove to Nestle otherwise.

The funny thing is – if you didn’t know about the issue yet – now that you’ve read this, you’re probably putting that Kit Kat down.

Will you ever take a break again?