As was reported today by the Wall Street Journal's Emily Steel, Nestlé is the latest big brand to be publicly flogged on the social web. It's another example of responding poorly to what the article calls a "digital savvy protest." In determining their response, Nestlé unfortunately tore a page from the "What Not To Do" handbook:


  • Step 1: Ask YouTube to pull all traces of offending video.
  • Step 2: Tell your Facebook fans you'll delete their comments unless they delete mocking imagery and/or comments from their pages.
  • Step 3: Abandon ship - and your Facebook page - altogether.


In the case of Nestlé - check, check, and almost check.


While the jury is still out on whether they'll abandon ship, it's looking unlikely that Nestlé can retake the reigns without a more authentic and well-coordinated response on their part.


Nestlé’s beating appears to be in part the result of not enough people inside Nestlé having real-time visibility of the mushrooming social conversation about one of the company's business practices. Here's the thing about social media that many organizations continue to learn the hard way - it needs to be everyone's business, from the receptionist to the CEO. Unfortunately social media is often treated separately from the rest of the company - an "experiment" managed by two or three people. However, looking at Facebook's 400 million users and Twitter's 75 million users, that's asking a lot from a few!


But with pain often comes reward. Nestlé has an opportunity to reinvent its approach, to throw out the old playbook and start over. (For the record, I agree with Altimeter Group's Jeremiah Owyang’s comment to the Wall Street Journal that Nestlé continue with their Facebook fan page) And in doing so, other companies can learn and prepare for the moments of pain - and the moments of opportunity – that social media offers by taking the following steps:


  • Step One: Set up a virtual war room and processes that support real-time social media visibility and collaboration by a broad group of people with the organization.
  • Step Two: Authentically engage in the conversation in a way that best represents your brand while respecting the issues raised by your customers and stakeholders.
  • Step Three: Create multiple venues for people to learn more from you and stay connected.
  • Step Four: Respond to feedback quickly and honestly, with links driving the conversation back to the venues you've created.
  • Step Five: Once you've ridden out the storm, and given people the ability to express their concerns, turn the conversation around. Begin asking for more ideas, more ways to improve - and report back with some of the best ideas and your progress in making those ideas come to life.


This is the power of social media. And it's also the power of Jive. For a look into how you can more easily monitor and engage in the "big conversation" occurring about your brand, check out Jive Market Engagement Solution.