An epic day for corporate social media lessons

March 21, 2010

And it came to us courtesy of this, of course.

The burgeoning hiatus which has raged for more than 72 hours around the conduct and attitude of Nestlé on its Facebook fan page. How did it all stack up? It essentially centred around:

The sarcastic comments made by the Nestlé social media content providers there, the threats to delete amended Nestlé logos, the deleting of certain comments posted on the Nestlé fan page, and the seeming lack of genuine connection with aggrieved commentators in that space – it all stacked up to give corporates one of the most powerful lessons in social media strategy – and how not to do it – ever seen on a social media platform.

It became global news and sparked a mass of commentaries – see more here, here, here, here and here.

And the comments are still pouring in on the page. But what can businesses learn from this social media nightmare?

A few simple tips which could have been useful include:

* Don’t openly criticise customers on a social media platform – even if their grammar is not correct on a posting.

* Don’t delete the stream of conversation – let it flow and deal with responses in an open, transparent, engaged way.

* Don’t make threats regarding copyright infringement of logos – customers being threatened by a corporate on a social media platform throws open several, very large cans of worms.

* Don’t take an overtly superior tone online with customers – it never goes down well.

* Don’t forget the negative wisdom of the masses – people will follow a disaster if they can access it easily enough. (Remember, the next time you’re stuck on the motorway, chances are motorists are slowing down to observe the pile-up in the opposite lane)

* Don’t engage on social media platforms if you can’t positively add to the conversation. Once your foot is in your mouth online, it’s incredibly hard to retrieve it. And a side-step, silence policy, or backtrack will always be picked up and highlighted – like this example.

The whole situation around the Nestlé management of their social media strategy on Facebook will be highlighted for months as an extreme case study in how not to do it. Make sure you have the right management measures in place before your Brand and commercial reputation is exposed to potential nightmares like the Nestlé experience.

It’s worth also mentioning that Nestlé shares dropped significantly during the first 6 hours of this event. How’s that for ROI on social media – and not the kind any business wants to replicate.

Learn from Nestlé’s mistakes and observe their crisis PR machine gearing up this week. It’s going to be interesting stuff.

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