Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nestle's Social Media Blunder: 2010 in Social Media

In my last post on Toyota's crisis and Social Media I said, Social Network is a highway of Information. Information of any sort, whether right or wrong, travels very quickly; and this calls for organizations to be there soon otherwise they risk having the information take control of them rather than controlling the sentiment themselves. Nestle's tryst with Greenpeace and the role of social media needs a dedicated blog or probably a book on how the people at Nestle completely got it wrong but I'll try to brief the entire episode in this short blog entry.
It all started with Green Peace uploading a video that became viral. The video described how Nestle's sourcing of palm oil, a key ingredient destroyed rain forests and endangered species such as Orang-Utan. Nestle responded by asking YouTube to take the video down. But the damage was done. The video was removed but multiple copies and versions of the video were uploaded on multiple sharing sites. Green Peace responded by making another animated clip that criticized Nestle's response. If that wasn't it, people started attacking their Facebook Page. A snapshot (below) of those Facebook reactions was captured by CNET
Reactions to the Green Peace campaign on Nestle's Facebook page.
( Source: CNET )
Raj from All Facebook says, "Thanks to Facebook and other social media channels, the Nestle Company has an enormous public relations mess on their hands... Other downtrodden companies such as Toyota and various airlines are embracing social media channels in hopes of repairing their current poor image".
The word viral in social media is a double edged sword. If it can help your business the way it helped Procter & Gamble with the old spice campaign, it can damage the reputation of a business too. Hence this road needs to carefully judged. Social Media is a jet stream. If it shoot your product or Justin Bieber up on the charts, then it can shoot it down too.
Greenpeace wins the battle
According to the Greenpeace website, their hard handed way of making Nestle more sensitive towards endangered species finally resulted in sweet success.

If you carefully notice this post, it has over 9000 likes on Facebook. The impact on Kit-Kat as brand as a result of this campaign has not been measured, but it seemed to have dented Nestle's image. Infact this post might also be incrementally adding to that dent. If a YouTube video can be used to make public opinion and can be directed for mending ways of a company, why not such videos be used by companies to form positive brand attitudes and change opinions of their products.
If you carefully look at the video by Greenpeace (I've put links at the end of this post), it arouses emotions. One deduction or learning from the case of Nestle and Greenpeace is that a successful viral campaign should arouse emotions. Even the old Spice campaign also arouses a lot of emotions (although of a different type). The Orang-utan might be smiling on the top of a tree, but the ape's help has come from the Social Network (Thanks to Greenpeace). Apes bond and so do humans. This bond, strengthened by internet and social networking communities is the driving force of a viral campaign. One overlooked factor is the role of emotions in such campaigns. Now that we know social network is a highway, it is important to learn the process to clear the entrance exam into that highway and believe me no amount of money can give you an entry ticket because human emotions cannot be bought. In the end, it that very element of emotion, which bonds people together that works for a viral campaign too. It is true for both online and offline campaigns.
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Youtube Links of Nestle-Green peace showdown.
1. Ask NestlĂ© CEO to stop buying palm oil from destroyed rainforest ( )
2. Nestle staff chat about the Greenpeace Kit Kat video (