Last week, Nestle got itself into a bit of a situation on its Facebook page. Following accusations by Greenpeace that the confectionery company was using palm oil sourced from deforested areas in Indonesia, the company's Facebook page was overrun by disgruntled campaigners urging a boycott of its products, and the firm was forced to put out a statement on its corporate Web site.
Nestle had, at first, been trying to firefight the situation on its Facebook page, without much success. Caustic responses to the angry brigade, and attempts to delete unwanted comments merely fanned the flamewar, and the company ended up by posting the comment, "Social media: as you can see, we're learning as we go. Thanks for the comments."
We've already seen how the big guys are using blogs to fight back against their critics, but Nestle's attempt to manage its social media sites is an epic example of misunderstanding the medium. The company uses Twitter extensively—its CSV (Creating Shared Value) account, unsurprisingly, has more followers than any of its corporate accounts—and has over 200,000 fans on its Facebook page, an increase of 125,000 over the weekend. Bet on most of the newbies not actually being "fans."
Jeremiah Owyang has been following the crisis and has come up with some useful guidelines for large companies who are getting into social media. Use an experienced community manager rather than an intern to manage your social media. Create a community strategy. Have an established plan for those times when your site is overrun by brand-jackers, and practice it regularly.
I might add one more to the list. There is no point in deleting every negative comment received on your social media pages, as your brand will just end up looking like you handed over management of it to this guy. Just remember, control and management are not the same thing.
[Image via Facebook]