To avoid a corporate Facebook crisis, go old school: The customer is always right

Ruder Finn Interactive, a boutique interactive agency within the global Ruder Finn public relations firm, recently posted a blog titled Nestlé Facebook Crisis: A Different Perspective. I’d like to call your attention to it – the writer is an account executive with RF and she watches Nip/Tuck, so she’s legit.

She uses a case study of Nestle’s Facebook account to explain the purpose of social media when it comes to an organization’s (corporate or otherwise) social media presence. In short, here’s what happened, back in mid-March: people who are not fans of some of Nestlé’s production practices were altering Nestlé’s KitKat brand logo and posting the images on Nestlé’s official Facebook account. Nestlé, in turn, deleted these images and was a bit rude about it.

Says the blog writer: “…the entrance of corporations and businesses into the social media space has changed a few rules, but they must remember why they chose to market on this platform in the first place.” And they choose it – or should choose it – to encourage what the writer calls “authentic discussion with the face of my brand.”

I completely agree. Social media is so effective because it’s a platform meant to allow dialogue, rather than a one-way conversation from an organization to stakeholders and the media, most of which consists of hyper-controlled, jargon-filled information. Like the original blog writer said, “…if I wanted to read PR, I would find a press release.” Indeed.

The problem stemmed from the way in which Nestle handled the situation, not the situation itself.

A similar situation recently happened in which I was involved. A stakeholder Tweeted some negative comments. Long story short, said stakeholder was pissed and was making it public.

We answered all questions, offered thanks for suggestions/concerns and said we valued this person’s contributions as a stakeholder. We invited more feedback.

We didn’t get angry publicly; we gave the information requested, but nothing more. Also, we never even considered deleting the negative Tweets. That’s a very dangerous road to travel. Should Nestlé have deleted these altered logos?

We also provided a real name and e-mail address the stakeholder could use for further discussion. We pulled back the curtain, so to speak, and revealed a human, not just a social media entity.

The customer is always right, up to a point. But, that point is always miles away in most situations. And Nestlé jumped the gun on turning angry and combative.

Tagged , , , , ,

5 thoughts on “To avoid a corporate Facebook crisis, go old school: The customer is always right

  1. Adam Brown says:

    I was wondering if you’d mention that Twitter business. It fit in quite nicely. Good to see you back on the blogging wagon.

  2. abbymalikpr says:

    Thanks, man! You’ve got to read David Meerman Scott’s “The New Rules of Marketing and PR,” the 2009 version that includes sections on social media. I’ll let you borrow my copy when I’m finished. There’s some stuff on “thought leadership” (white papers, setting trends) you’d enjoy – and that you’ve already done with your social media guide!

    Scott also talks about examples from Sony BMG Music and a popular local photography equipment store in NYC, comparing how they handled negative social media/online interaction, and how that influenced future business. Good stuff, my friend.

    And it’s no surprise that the local company handled it better than the corporate giant.

  3. John Henry Malik says:

    It IS good to have you back!
    Now to the point. Companies, anyone, who resides on a social network should have considered the inherent question: “Don’t ask a question unless you are prepared for the answer.” Once someone puts themselves out on a social network, they should be fully prepared to handle negative comments – and in a way that does credit to them. I think your exposition of the way a stakeholder was (cynically) handled was a good example of an unemotional(!), calculated, response to an emotional issue, which goes a long was to diffusing a hothead. Most often there is no other way to respond because the complainant just wants to vent, not be assuaged. And anyone who takes the time to respond, unlike me, probably has a hot head and their own agenda.

  4. […] To avoid a corporate Facebook crisis, go old school: The customer is always right […]

  5. says:

    Usually I do not read post on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to try and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thanks, very great post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: