The Nestle fiasco that recently happened got a lot of attention from the world, and the social media community in particular. If you aren’t aware of what happened, check out this recap for the details. The headline is “Nestle fails at social media.” The reason they failed? Clamping down on logo usage, defensive and controlling behavior, inattentiveness to consumer concerns.
Yes. Agreed. Guilty as charged.
But none, and I repeat, none of that has to do with failing in social media. In fact, I think the behavior we as a collective have witnessed is probably one of the the most perfect examples of what social media is meant to be.
But wait. There’s tons of backlash… people hate how they handled the situation. They didn’t listen! They thought of the brand before the people! How dare them?! Their response was crude, and rude, and unacceptable! How can it not be a failure in social media?!
You know why? Because they were real. The backlash is not against how Nestle “handled themselves in social media.” The real backlash is against how they think, what they believe, and how they conduct business. The fact of the matter is, they were 100% transparent in their beliefs. Which is the number #1 requirement of engagement in social media outlets. Whoever was on the other side of that facebook exchange was given freedom to represent the company’s beliefs, tolerance and guidelines. That is awesome. They didn’t mess up in conveying what they have been taught about the company in which they work. What was illuminated is the way Nestle feels about controlling their brand and it’s relationship with it’s community. That has nothing-I repeat, nothing- to do with social media. I argue that they have actually done it right. They trusted their employees to represent their beliefs. I believe they did. They are now dealing with the reaction to their beliefs, not their presence in social media. Would we rather they be inauthentic and only post/respond canned, scripted, approved responses to any and all comments or sentiments posted about them? No, you’d see right through that.
The backlash is not against how Nestle “handled themselves in social media.” The real backlash is against how they think, what they believe, and how they conduct business.
Here’s the deal. Nestles’s stance was wrong in my opinion. They need to care about the orangutans. They should be doing, or operating in ways that are earth friendly. They should be more open with their brand and engage the people who actually keep them in business with their purchases. They should be considerate. Absolutely. But, if we want brands to be honest with us, we need to allow for some room to grow and learn and evolve. The digital, or social age has changed the world. Granted. But it has not – not yet – changed the way every one of our favorite brands operate in the world. Nestle is a perfect example of how a brand can learn and adjust beyond itself to something that is truly a product or service for the world.
Does Nestle have lots to do and fix? Oh yes. But here’s what I would propose: From a business and culture standpoint… get your priorities right. But from a social media standpoint… keep it up. You are doing a fantastical job, and are an example for others. Because the point is, social media exposes who you really are. If you are nice on the inside, it comes through on the outside.
Oh, and next time just be a little nicer.