Vesta Digital Blog

Nestle Cooks Up Trouble With Their Social Media

Posted on: April 7, 2010

NestleNestle went from the frying pan to the fire with their social media efforts recently. The anger wasn’t because of Nestle’s rain forest policy; it was because of the comments they made on their Facebook page.

The problem started with a palm oil supplier that Nestle uses in Indonesia. Palm oil is used in many consumer goods, from lipstick to packaged foods. Demand for palm oil (often labeled as “vegetable oil”) has increased throughout the world and palm oil production is blamed for global rainforest destruction.

Palm Oil Controversy

Nestle’s palm oil supplier – Sinar Mas – has been repeatedly accused of illegal deforestation. Greenpeace released a report last year about Sinar Mas clearing rainforest land without permits. Unilever and Kraft suspended contracts with the company. Nestle said it would stop doing business with Sinar Mas but it would continue using “non-sustainable” palm oil (crops that can harm the environment) until 2015. Greenpeace and Nestle protesters weren’t happy this, but the storm erupted because of what the company said on their Facebook page.

Facebook Fight

Nestle’s Facebook page quickly filled up with complaints. Some users changed their profile pictures and altered Nestle’s logo. That’s when the company fired back:

Nestle: “To repeat: we welcome your comments, but please don’t post an altered version of any of our logos as your profile pic – they will be deleted.”

Facebook User: “Hmm, this comment is a bit “Big Brotherish” isn’t it? I’ll have whatever I like as my logo pic thanks! And if it’s altered, it’s no longer your logo is it!”

Nestle: “That’s a new understanding of intellectual property rights. We’ll muse on that. You can have what you like as your profile picture. But if it’s an altered version of any of our logos, we’ll remove it from this page.”

Facebook User: “Not sure you’re going to win friends in the social media space with this sort of dogmatic approach. I understand that you’re on your back-foot due to various issues not excluding Palm Oil but Social Media is about embracing your market, engaging and having a conversation rather than preaching!”

The squabble went on for weeks. People were already upset with Nestle’s business practices, but this situation shows how quickly it can escalate in a venue like social media. The cost of writing an angry Facebook message to a consumer can be expensive – as another message on Nestle’s Facebook wall proves:

Facebook User: “I love this!!! Facebook has made being an activist so much easier! Stop chocking the planets lungs and destroying its diversity Nestle, we won’t stop until you do!”

Nestle Figures out the Right Recipe

Social media can be more negative than positive on many levels. If you are a company, you should be less concerned about your intellectual property rights than your digitally empowered consumers. The burden of proof is on corporations to prove that they are addressing issues like rainforest destruction. But in social media, this can be a losing battle. Angry consumers now have the power to communicate and share their negative opinions. That means that if your company is not willing to address and respond to these comments, corporate social media pages will end up being nothing more than dumping grounds for consumer complaints.

Today, there are many altered Nestle logos on the company’s Facebook page. And Nestle has changed its’ corporate statement:

“Social media: as you can see we’re learning as we go. Thanks for the comments.”

As any good cook will tell you, practice makes perfect. You can see Meghan Keane’s entire article by clicking here.

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2 Responses to "Nestle Cooks Up Trouble With Their Social Media"

[…] recent social media storm surrounding GreenPeace, Sinar Mas and Nestle, playing out on Nestle’s Facebook fan page. There are new issues, a record fine and overall Washington troubles for […]

[…] Let’s try the shoe out on the other foot so to speak. Right here we have a company (Nestle) that was the offending social media perp. After some angry protesters (angry about Nestle’s lack of eco-friendly policy) wore altered […]

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