So what lessons does Nestlé’s disaster (which is already becoming an MBA case study in how not to do PR) hold for any company that wants to have a presence in the digital space, and a positive one at that?
For one, lobby groups aren’t always telling lies. Many of them do have valid points to make. And they know how to make them, and shame you into submission.
Second, companies have customers to serve, employees to pay, shareholders to satisfy. They cannot switch to ‘green’ practices just to satisfy a bunch of web-savvy lobbyists, without losing ground to competition. They need to get that across to people.
Three, you really, really need to know how the interactive space works.
Olivier Blanchard at the Brand Builder blog has a few suggestions. I couldn’t do better than to cite excerpts:
1. Don’t let one company’s failure scare you…There is a VAST difference between having a presence in the Social Media space and having a well planned, well managed presence in the Social Media space.
2. This isn’t amateur hour. Social Media management requires rigorous training and razor-sharp focus: Having a Social Media presence for your company and brand(s) is serious business. It isn’t an afterthought. It isn’t something you can afford to assign to interns.
(Even if the interns seem more Facebook-savvy than you, you are still more crisis management-savvy; if I may add)
3. Absence from the Social Media space won’t save you… not having a facebook page or a presence on twitter will not protect you from boycotts, coordinated attacks, and defamation campaigns…You need to be there in order to a) monitor, b) learn, and c) respond quickly and adequately.
4. Don’t get caught with your pants down. …What is embarrassing to Nestle is that its team fumbled…Who’s in charge here? How did a company of such size and importance, with so many resources and access to talent leave itself so open to an action of this kind? How did it not see this coming? How is it that it had no plan?
We’ll carry a few more suggestions in Part – IV, since this has gone on so long already.
Tip: Don’t think everyone online has a short attention span. There are people with enough time on their hands to read really long posts, and they’re the most dangerous. Convert them, and you’ve won.