When you react to crisis on social media: Calm down, please.

    If you overreacted to an anti video posted to YouTube and took a tough attitude to take it down mandatorily, it’s bad. If you then threatened to people who left anti comments on your Facebook, it’s worse. If, after these, you even responded as you did nothing wrong and put an official face, it’s the worst.

    But, bingo! Recently, the food giant Nestle just made a “perfect model” of this poor reaction to a crisis on social media (YouTube and Facebook).

    Here are the facts I quoted from Olivier Blanchard’s blog:

Chapter 1: Greenpeace’s fake Kit-Kat commercial focusing on palm oil and deforestation is released on YouTube and quickly goes viral.

Chapter 2: Nestle fights back by chasing the Greenpeace video all over the internets in a game of censorship whack-a-mole.

Chapter 3: Fueled by the momentum of the Greenpeace video, anti-Nestle discussions move away from activist blogs and land on Nestle’s facebook page.

Chapter 4: Echoing Nestle’s logo censorship efforts with the video on YouTube and across other channels, Nestle’s Facebook team responds to criticism on their wall by… threatening to delete comments left by individuals using modified versions of their corporate logo as avatars, which only adds fuel to the fire.

Chapter 5: Emboldened by Nestle’s seemingly unprepared and not particularly PR-savvy social media team on Facebook, the anti-Nestle attack grows into a mob beating of the brand well into the weekend and continuing into this week. The campaign, initially managed by Greenpeace assets, moves into the mainstream as environmentally-conscious Facebook users join the anti-Nestle crowd.

Chapter 6: In spite of Nestle’s ruthless beating over the weekend, decent media coverage and questionable reports of stock woes for the company on Friday, people are still buying Kit-Kat and other Nestle products –as if nothing happened, and seem relatively unaffected by whatever Greenpeace does to Nestle’s Facebook page.

    Nestle’s reaction is apparently wrong with regard to the crisis communication on social media. First, the video was getting no attention at the beginning, but their bogus copyright claim to take down the video drew much more attention to the issue. There came out multiple copies, which make it go viral. Second, their reaction to the Facebook comments resulted in more negatively pointed responses. People voiced their opposition and reminded us of past Nestle controversies. Third, though Nestle admitted wrong and apologized eventually, the damage had been done to the company and the brand. The few people known incident has turned into a wide spread crisis.
    With the PR mess, the most important thing is to embrace social media to fix the problem and restore the image. Here are some personal suggestions on reaction to social media crisis (YouTube, Facebook):

1)      No fierce counterattack.

    People have right of free speech on the Internet. You can’t freeze people’s mouths and it’s impossible for you to use enforceable methods to forbid people saying something on the Internet. The overreacted response can only draw more attention and cause more negative publicity. A lot more people will discuss on the issue and express oppositions. The tough attitude will definitely lead to backfire and provoke the public. It will make the message widely spread to all the media net.

2)      No threat or toughness.

    The hardball or any threat may cause the counter-psychology. It will attract more opposition and popular discontent, thus fueling the fire. It’s harmful to the brand and will reduce the company’s image. This kind of action can make things out of control and expand the unpleasant impression of the company.

3)      Respect for free speech.

    We should conform to the social media principles, joining the online communication as participants, instead of mandatory ban or threat. We should clarify the facts and publish positive messages to respond to attack and restore reputation. We can post our own videos or make statements instead of taking down others’ videos or threatening to delete others’ comments. Listen carefully and react actively, then you will earn understanding and support.

4)      Be cool and speak with the truth.

    We should calmly react to the anti-activities. It’s better for us to two-way communicate with the public through social media by stating the facts. We can make active reactions to self protect. We can freely speak out our opinions and show people the truth, but we can’t prevent others from giving their different views. After a series of clarification and explanation, we can also post new topics or messages that are good for the company. Just let it go smoothly with proper reactions.

    After all, the Nestle crisis really warns us of paying attention to the social media monitoring and being careful with social media communication.

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