Thursday, April 8, 2010

How NOT to manage a Facebook Fanpage - courtesy of Nestle

Facebook (and general Web 2.0) etiquette lessons courtesy of Nestle

Ok, so this is my take on the Nestle Facebook debacle. If you have spent any time on the internet over the past two weeks, you must be aware of the flame war that erupted on the Nestle Facebook Fan page when a spokesperson for Nestle asked fans to not make modified copies of their logo.

It should be mentioned in all fairness that there is an ongoing battle between Nestle and Greenpeace over Nestle’s supposed use of palm oil in its products, so Nestle might have been a bit on the defensive to start with.

But, instead of using their Facebook fan page to explain their point of view to their fans, they went on the defensive and “bit the hand that fans” so to speak.

Looking back, here is what they should have known before even creating a fan page.

1- Don’t throw oil on the fire!

Telling people NOT to do something on the Web is the surest way to get a quadruple serving of it. As an example, altered logos (and not flattering ones) started appearing almost immediately after the initial post.

I remember some years back when a story broke that Verizon had registered alternate domain names in an attempt to prevent malicious registration of domain names with their name in them. In short, they registered domain names such as, you get the idea. So what do you think happened when word got out? It became a sport on the net to register alternate versions of that, such as verizonreallysucks, verizonsucksthebigone, etc.

Sometimes, it is best just to leave well enough alone. Case in point, this page that was created: Your Nestle comments won't get deleted here

2- Know how to recognize a compliment when it is paid to you!

Posting on a company’s Facebook wall with an altered logo (unless the intent is obviously malicious) is usually done as a tribute to a company you admire. Have you never heard the bit about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery? So not only should it not be discouraged, it should be encouraged.

If the Nestle rep had come out and said "hey there are some really creative variations on our logo here, why don't we have a contest to see who can make the best one. Which ever logo gets the most fan votes by x date will win a year's supply of our products.

Then, not only would Nestle have gotten tremendous positive buzz from all this, they would have gotten free logos for future brands. Now that would have been true customer engagement!

3- No, it’s not your page!

If we want to get really technical, its Facebook’s page. You get to put your image and some content on it but that doesn't make it yours.

But more to the point, it is called a “Fan Page”. It is a page for your fans! A page where they can extol, or question, your products and practices, and where you are afforded a rare privilege: that of being able to interact directly with your clients without the filter of traditional media.

As was pointed out during the conversation, Nestle missed a great opportunity here to make good points about the efforts they are making to “greene” their enterprise. Instead, they took the "It's our page, we make the rules, if you don't like it take a hike" approach. Someone will have to explain to me how that can possibly benefit a company one iota.

4- A sin confessed is half forgiven

Admit when you make a mistake and do it sooner rather than later. A defensive attitude never leads to a constructive discussion. Adopting a condescending, pretentious, or arrogant attitude will only lead to the same in response. The fact is, on more than one occasion during the thread, fans cracked open a door, an opportunity for Nestle to back peddle and make amends but those olive branches were never grasped at and the fire continued to flare out of control. By the time Nestle did apologise, 154 comments later, but it was too little too late.

5- All publicity is not good!

Some people are saying that the rude and unprofessional responses had to be fake – a ploy to stir up controversy, get the net talking about their brand and gain fans.

Did they gain fans? Perhaps, but let me make something crystal clear:

Facebook Fans DO NOT equal Clients

Almost anyone can create a fan page on Facebook and get tons of fans. (Don't believe me, read this bit from Mashable Onion Ring More Popular Than Justin Bieber in Latest Facebook Meme )
Time will tell what effect this will have on Nestle Sales and stock. But I wouldn’t want to be one of their stock owners right now!