UPDATE: I have also published a follow up post on What Nestlé Should Do Now.}
The latest Social Media disaster happened last week as Nestlé got literally slammed on Facebook. Here’s how it happened, what lessons we can glean, and what Nestlé should’ve done:
1. A Social Media presence doesn’t inherently fix your offline problems and perceived questionable ethics.
It began with a Greenpeace campaign attacking Nestlé who are pupportedly purchasing palm oil from companies that destroy rainforests. Greenpeace created a video (which is sitting on their homepage) that rebranded the popular Nestlé chocolate bar brand, Kit Kat, into ‘Killer’, with the slogan ‘give the orang-utan a break.’
Nestlé asked YouTube to pull the video under copyright infringement, but the video had already gone viral. The summary in this comment by alecast gives an excellent and succinct order of events.
Takeaway: Be prepared for Social Media to amplify offline opinion.
2. People don’t mind if you don’t get it right, but they do mind if you get it wrong.
Mass protest then began on Nestlé’s Facebook page, which as you can imagine, quickly became swamped with not only outrage against their use of this palm oil, but also their pulling of the video.
As the Facebook hate piled in, Nestlé updated their Facebook page to reflect the sentiment of ‘we’re still learning’. As much as people say that it’s ok to get it wrong, in the Social Media mob’s eyes, it isn’t.
Takeaway: Like Eurostar, if you don’t have all the answers, people don’t care about your reasons. Have the answers ready.
3. Do Not Censor
Censoring the video in the first place is what exacerbated this war. People started making the Killer logo their profile picture, at which point Nestlé repeated the intial mistake by issuing the following update on Facebook:
please don’t post using an altered version of any of our logos as your profile pic – they will be deleted.
The Streisland effect is used to describe the phenomenon when censorship causes something to become even more widespread. Don’t do it. And especially don’t do it twice. The net is at such a place that whatever you delete is pretty retrievable – and even if it isn’t – the whole thing with mass protest is that it is based in perception far more than reality. Censoring fuels this emotion.
Takeaway: Had Nestlé not censored, this would not have reached this size. Don’t censor.
4. Old Media Does Not Understand Social Crisis Management
Old Media thinks that removing a comment because the user’s profile picture is infringing and damaging your brand is the way to go.
Old Media is stupid. Old Media doesn’t consider that digital and social means will make two profile pictures spring up in the place of every deleted one. And Old Media doesn’t understand that text is more powerful than images when it comes to Google search and Facebook comments.
Even worse is telling users you will delete their comments – as if that will make people stop. If they were so concerned about their brand, they should’ve deleted the comments without telling anyone.
Takeaway: Social Crisis Management never takes the form of censorship or editing. It takes the form of creating new solutions.
5. Do Not Retaliate
The biggest mistake Nestlé made was by the person running the Facebook page who appeared to take every criticism personally. Just scan through this screenshot on this post.
Retaliation also invokes the Streisland effect.
Takeaway: Nestlé should’ve not responded to anything. Nothing they could say would make it right anyway, so rather say nothing.
6. The Truth Doesn’t Matter: Perception Does
Nestlé issues a press release on Wednesday, “assur[ing] you than Nestlé does not buy palm oil from the Sinar Mas Group”
It’s irrelevant – whether true or false.
When you get it wrong be censoring and retaliating, you reinforce the perception that you are trying to cover your tracks.
Takeaway: Don’t focus on facts, focus on perception.
7. Respond With The Same Weight
A press release does not combat screaming hatred against a brand. You must match fire with fire. The only way Nestlé can turn this around is to carry out something that has the same weight as the criticisms and viral nature that attacked it.
Takeaway: You cannot respond with traditional methods. You must match viral protest with viral solutions.
All of this, in my opinion, was Nestlés terribly misguided attempts at managing crisis through censorship of reach. Crisis management of spreadability is totally different.
When creating a Crisis Management process, you must never censor. You must create. Simply because spreadability requires us to create new media, as you cannot censor what has already been spread!
Do you have any more points to add?
P.S. I’ll be talking about this on Thursday 25th March at WOM UK if you’re in London.