Sometimes Social Media Isn’t So Sweet

Ryan Faria - April 16, 2010

With the phenomenal growth of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, many businesses have begun creating their own fan pages within these sites.  While social media platforms are a great way to interact with your fans, friends and followers, issues can often arise when users post critical comments about your company or brand.

Nestle has received negative press by Greenpeace regarding many environment issues, which include the destruction rainforests in Indonesia to extract Palm Oil to use in their KitKat candy bars, in addition to reports of genetically modified organisms found in baby formula overseas.  “Fans” began modifying the KitKat and other Nestle logos to promote awareness about these issues. The Nestle Corporation requested that these images be removed immediately.  Their Facebook response could have been addressed in a more courteous, respectable manner.

The Nestle party responsible for managing their Facebook post began posting comments that were perceived to be offensive by fans. Upset fans forwarded the supposedly offensive retort to others, and soon word began to spread.  Not long after, the story was all over the web.  Since then, Nestle has experienced major image problems.

What can businesses learn from this experience?  Whatever social media platform your business chooses to participate in, the main point is to remain calm, courteous, respectful and honest.  Fans and followers may not always have positive things to say, however these comments can and should be addressed in a professional manner.  These remarks may also be helpful in altering and humanizing your image, while positioning your brand as a caring, customer service oriented organization.

My Mom and Dad always said, ‘It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.’  This proclamation also holds true for social media sites.  It is always better to err on the side of caution than to avoid customer confrontations.  Address your fans, followers and even those who are not fans, professionally and you can save your company from an embarrassing situation.

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