Recently, corporate giant Nestle was caught in a social networking faux pas when its Facebook manager asked posters not to alter its product logo in their profile picture. If they do, the manager threatened that the post would be taken down. As stated in a post by Rick Broida on bnet. “…whoever mans Nestle’s Facebook page went on the offensive, responding to individual posters in a tone that was at times sarcastic or antagonistic.” As Broida points out, it’s basic “PR 101, Don’t insult your customers.” You can read more about the Nestle issue by visiting the links below.
The Nestle issue presents a teaching moment, which brings me to my headline question, “Should EVERY business use social networking?” Short answer – no, not every business, especially if they don’t know what they’re doing. Facebook is a wonderful asset, if someone at a company knows how to use it and how to respond or not to respond to negative posts. The old adage, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the fire” applies to corporate use of social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter. Not everyone likes a particular company. Facebook is an excellent place for customers or opposition groups to let off a little steam or promote a social cause against a company. (Greenpeace against Nestle, for example.) Probably no corporation knows more about how to deal with negative publicity than Walmart. Read Walmart’s Facebook policy: http://walmartstores.com/9453.aspx. Walmart will take down posts it deems inappropriate (my word). In a group of 133 responses to a post on “green living,” Walmart only responded to a couple of posts. Some customer posts were a little negative. Here’s one Walmart response to a complaint: “We’re sorry if you had a bad experience with our produce. Let us know more at http://tinyurl.com/yhzk8ov so we can fix it.” (Posted 4/20/10) So not only did they respond to the issue, they gave the poster a place to help solve his/her problem. Good tactic.
Facebook is a company controlled site. Social network managers should only post items that are favorable to the company (how about that PR!). In another Nestle example, Nestle posts “Nestlé provides affordable nutrition to consumers in emerging markets.” Given Nestle’s past negative publicity (I won’t go into the baby formula issue) if I were managing the site, I would definitely not post this message. tiThe majority of commentsto this post are less than flattering. Nestle is probably afraid to take them down after the logo issue!
Companies should avoid posting about potentially controversial issues, but they should respond to negative issues and monitor feedback. Again, companies control the site and offensive, libelous and meaningless rants should be removed to make room for posts with constructive criticism. Posters don’t have to love you but they should respect you and your viewers!
To Nestle’s credit, they did post the following message in response to Greenpeace’s criticism: “In a letter to Greenpeace today, our Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe has called for a moratorium on the destruction of rainforests and highlights how the two organisations can meet this common goal.”
I would love to hear other’s views on this topic.
Links for more information: