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When social network “fans” attack

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Sunday March 21, 2010 )

Having a Facebook or Twitter presence can really lift the profile of your business – but sometimes for all the wrong reasons as Nestle is currently discovering. Their Facebook “fan” page is currently a company’s worst public relations nightmare and serves as a caution for us all.

Nestle have been in the spotlight in regard to their sourcing of palm oil for its many products. According to Greenpeace, Nestle is buying palm oil from companies responsible for unsustainable practices that destroy forests and threaten wildlife in Indonesia.

All that aside, it seems the major mistake Nestle made in handling the situation is attempting to get a video by Greenpeace pulled off YouTube and to criticize commenters on their Facebook page for using avatars that were a Greenpeace play on the KitKat logo.

All hell has broken loose and at the time of writing, all the comments on Nestle’s Facebook page above the “older posts” mark are very critical of the company, with many folks talking boycotts. A quick flick through older comments shows a similar story stretching back over the last 24 hours – hundreds of them.

Nestle are experiencing something akin to the Streisand Effect, which I’ve written about in the past.

The company has made a statement saying it is committed to more sustainable practices, but the damage has been done. No amount of spin is going to fix this either, only time and action – and no further irritation of the forces gathering against it.

Something for all businesses to consider – what is happening to Nestle will not be an isolated incident – it likely represents the beginning of a trend of similar large-scale armchair activism on social networks and will require a fundamental shift in business practices relating to transparency and sustainability.

Thinking of setting up profiles on social networks? Handle with care – any skeletons in your company’s closet may be exposed for all to see. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set up a Facebook fan page – just make sure you know where your bodies are buried and be prepared to face the music. Better still, make the changes you need to now.

This is just another reason why businesses, whether they be bricks and mortar or pure play online, should seriously consider addressing environmental issues within their companies. Green is no longer the fringe – it’s rapidly becoming mainstream.

Related:

Using Facebook as a marketing tool
Cause marketing and social conscience in online business



 

 
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