Nestle’s Facebook page becomes PR graveyard

As we’ve noted before, Social Media can be a useful tool to connect and communicate with the world. But what happens when you don’t like what the world has got to say? Nestle decided to try and fight fire with fire when it attracted some negative comments on its Facebook page. Bad mistake: The resulting explosion in hostility towards the company has taken even seasoned media-watchers aback by virtue of its volume and its sustained ferocity. Many commentators are already referring to the incident as one of the biggest PR disasters of recent times.

This timeline from http://blogs.bnet.com/businesstips/?p=6786 recounts how the story unfolded

About 10 hours ago, Chocolate-maker Nestle posted a seemingly innocent request on its Facebook page: Nestle fans, don’t use an altered version of the company’s logo as your profile pic, or your comments will be deleted. (I’m paraphrasing, but only a bit.)

The reaction from more than a few followers: Don’t tell us what to do, Big Brother! (Again, paraphrasing.) Nestle’s response: The logo is our intellectual property. This is our page, we set the rules. You don’t like it? There’s the door.

In other words, whoever mans Nestle’s Facebook page went on the offensive, responding to individual posters in a tone that was at times sarcastic or antagonistic. Here’s an exchange that pretty much sums it up:

And these were some of the milder comments! The initial protest was orchestrated by Greenpeace in an attempt to highlight Nestle’s continued use of palm oil allegedly from environmentally questionable sources. Nestle’s rather ham-fisted attempts to bully critics into silence has handed Greenpeace an impressive PR victory in highlighting their campaign, causing tangible and lasting damage to the Nestle brand in the process.

Recent comments from Nestle on its Facebook page indicate an abrupt about-face in policy and an attempt to pour oil on troubled waters. Not palm oil from endangered rain forests, we hope.

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