Brand Identity Crisis for Nestle: How, Why and What of the Story Explained

Now that the confectionery major “Nestle” is bombarded with negative sentiments by people across the world, it is time that the brand takes careful measures to manage its online reputation. With hundreds of hate comments being posted by users on the official Nestle fanpage everyday, it is certainly not going to be easy for the company to calm them down in a matter of few days. This is going to take some time for it to act and convince the “agonized”, “emotional”, “pessimistic” and “sensitive” sets of audience on social media.

How It All Started:

Earlier this month, Nestle was alleged to using palm oil from deforested areas in Indonesia, which triggered critics and environmental activists to target the company on its official Facebook fanpage. The activity was spurred by a Greenpeace campaign, accusing Nestle for its unethical actions and causing danger to the habitat of endangered orangutans in the region.

Soon, the spark turned into fire when the company used unconvincing tone against its fans. The crisis period set-in when users commented on the posts, to which Nestle responded with “attitude” that didn’t go well with the audience. Following is a snapshot of the conversations that caused damage to Nestle’s reputation:

nestle conversations

Where It Went Wrong for Nestle:

Social media is still misunderstood by many as a platform for companies to promote their products and services. Those with this misconception should at least now know that social media is much beyond promotion. It must be used to build relationship with the customers / consumers, address their needs and queries, seek their support during adversity and co-operate with them during any product / service failure incident.

In Nestle’s case, the company suffered criticism not only from the critics, but also from its passionate consumers. How did this happen? The answer is “Failed PR”. Having built up a wonderful reputation online with over 75,000 fans, the brand couldn’t sustain it since the last few days when it was alleged for unethical practices. With statements like “it’s our page, we set the rules, it was ever thus”, the company made a terrible blunder.

What Needs to be Done?

There is no use crying over spilled milk. All that Nestle can do is take the learning from this social media crisis and move ahead with a positive and extremely careful state of mind. There are going to be thousands of hurdles (negative comments) that it will have to overcome, if it wishes to complete the run. Following are certain important points that the firm will need to keep in mind:

1) Be Humble and Apologize: The first thing that Nestle needs to do is apologize and accept its mistake for disappointing the fans and the stakeholders. There is no way they (Nestle) can claim that whatever they did was right.

2) Understand Social Media: Social media is NOT about “you”. It is about “us”. You can’t set rules for people to follow on social media, whether it is on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or any other site. If you still can’t stick to this basic, it is better not to be officially present on social media.

3) Respect Your Fans / Followers: A disappointed fan or follower is equal to thousands of lost consumers. Word-of-mouth marketing is very powerful in the online space. Each and every user on social media has the freedom of speech, and if you try to curb that, you are next to or possibly doomed!

Lessons for Facebook Marketers:

There are few things that I would like to highlight regarding Nestle’s incident on Facebook. If you are a social media marketer, and would like to engage with users on Facebook through a fanpage, beware of the following:

wall-settings1) Wall Settings: Currently, Nestle has set its Default View for Wall settings to “Posts by Page and Fans”. Moreover, it has set the “Main Wall” as the Default Landing Tab for Everyone Else. What this means is that anyone accessing the fanpage would be able to post comments that directly appear to everyone, even those who do not know about the situation. There are several companies who restrict users’ posts from appearing on the main wall, which helps them hide most of the damage and criticism, if any.

2) Facebook is not only for Fun…Get Serious: Several people still consider Facebook as a “chilled-out” online place where you can do or say anything that you want. On the contrary, Facebook can become extremely dangerous for your brand if you take it too casually. As the updates happen on real-time basis, each update that you make gets reflected on your fan’s profile instantly, thereby attracting several eyeballs at a time. Moreover, if any of these fans takes a snapshot of the post and puts it on his / her blog, the possibility is endless for the entire world to watch it (even if you delete the post later)

sharing-option3) Sharing Option: If you are a company providing products / services in multiple countries across the world, make sure that your tone and language is unambiguous and crisp. If you believe that a particular post should not be seen by a specific country or by people speaking a specific language, then share your message accordingly through customization.