Did Nestle step on a hornet’s nest or open a door?

nestle-family-logoSeveral mothers who are also bloggers were invited to Nestle Corporate for an event to interact with the company’s top brass. Nestle even created a special page to encourage them to tweet about the experience.

On the first day of the event, Nestle found its Twitter hashtag (#nestlefamily) hijacked by moms who were not attending and very unhappy with the company’s marketing practices of baby formula and sourcing chocolate. Discussion of boycotts and rallying cries followed which are nothing new to Nestle as it is the most boycotted company in the world, with resistance dating back to the 1970s.

A blog post and the Twitter activity by PHDinParenting seemed to be the spark that started it.

Quickly it became reminiscent of #motrin story, but this was trickier because bloggers attending the event felt like they were being attacked by their own community. This post describes the feelings well.

A firestorm of Twitter activity continued for hours – some of it not so pleasant, but there was a majority of respectful debate. The voices making the strongest statements garnered greater attention (retweeting) and responses. Momentum was building.

At 5:55pm ET, Scott Remy, SVP at Nestle USA opened a Twitter account tweeted, “Hi I’m Scott Remy, SVP at Nestle USA. I’m here to answer your questions. #nestlefamily”. For everyone following the activity, that got their attention. He followed at 5:56pm ET with, “We have been listening since the start and ask that you please don’t attack our guest bloggers. #nestlefamily” And then, at 6:00pm ET, “We recognize we are new to social media and that’s why we brought bloggers here.”

For the next several hours he and his staff did their best to respond to inquires. They did a decent job considering they created the account only a few minutes earlier.

As the evening wore on and Nestle corporate signed-off, the chatter slowed, but didn’t go away. And it never will as there is a bigger issue here than Nestle being on Twitter. But for this site, that’s our interest.

Twitter democratizes conversations. Nestle admitted to being new to social media, and they got an abrupt first day lesson. By encouraging attending bloggers to tweet with the hashtag #nestlefamily, they opened up the dialog, but they weren’t prepared to participate. The Twitter activity was a clear display of how brands no longer can control the message as they previously perceived that they could. Scott Remy deserves credit for jumping in to respond and defend his invitees. J&J wasn’t able to muster the same confidence when it came to the #motrin debacle.

This is just the first step down the social media road for Nestle with Twitter, and clearly it wasn’t an easy baby step. But they are now involved, and appear to have the right leadership to converse with moms on Twitter and elsewhere, even with the issues being controversial and provocative.

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  • http://MaternalInstinct.net/ Kat Gordon

    One of my least favorite byproducts of Twitter is the mob mentality that it often enables. Is any forum open to any line of conversation? Think of Joe Wilson's eruption during President Obama's speech. Think of the protestors at the Beijing Olympics. Getting attention should never be confused with getting your message across.

  • http://MaternalInstinct.net/ Kat Gordon

    One of my least favorite byproducts of Twitter is the mob mentality that it often enables. Is any forum open to any line of conversation? Think of Joe Wilson's eruption during President Obama's speech. Think of the protestors at the Beijing Olympics. Getting attention should never be confused with getting your message across.

  • http://twitter.com/GraceD Grace Davis

    “The Twitter activity was a clear display of how brands no longer can control the message as they previously perceived that they could.”

    This is the issue, right on the money. Alongside this is the glaring fact that the Nestle Corporation's reputation is what comes up in a Google search, immediately after their own corporate pages.

    Thanks for this balanced information.

  • http://twitter.com/GraceD Grace Davis

    “The Twitter activity was a clear display of how brands no longer can control the message as they previously perceived that they could.”

    This is the issue, right on the money. Alongside this is the glaring fact that the Nestle Corporation's reputation is what comes up in a Google search, immediately after their own corporate pages.

    Thanks for this balanced information.

  • http://hormonecoloreddays.blogspot.com/ kim/hormone-colored days

    Interesting thoughts. This controversy actually began on twitter much earlier. I believe I was talking to clients about this last week. That makes the Nestle response especially slow. We're all learning a lot on Nestle's dime, so for many the are opening doors.

    If they brought bloggers out to teach their teams about social media, I hope the attendees (not all moms) are getting a stipend for their consulting efforts.

  • http://hormonecoloreddays.blogspot.com/ kim/hormone-colored days

    Interesting thoughts. This controversy actually began on twitter much earlier. I believe I was talking to clients about this last week. That makes the Nestle response especially slow. We're all learning a lot on Nestle's dime, so for many the are opening doors.

    If they brought bloggers out to teach their teams about social media, I hope the attendees (not all moms) are getting a stipend for their consulting efforts.

  • delthedad

    Well hopefully it is a VP and not some secretary being told what to say. You dont know and I dont know, and anyone can say anything they want when no one is present to contridict them. And with all the ill business practices and the lack of ethics from many in the business community, things are kind of shady. There is much work/writings from scholors and professionals on the wrong practices that business pursue, but you have to look, because all business will keep it from the public eye (ie: tv media, etc).

  • delthedad

    Well hopefully it is a VP and not some secretary being told what to say. You dont know and I dont know, and anyone can say anything they want when no one is present to contridict them. And with all the ill business practices and the lack of ethics from many in the business community, things are kind of shady. There is much work/writings from scholors and professionals on the wrong practices that business pursue, but you have to look, because all business will keep it from the public eye (ie: tv media, etc).

  • http://boycottnestle.blogspot.com/ Mike Brady

    I became aware of this event due to the amount of traffic coming to Baby Milk Action sites from people posting links on Twitter.

    When Nestlé joined the discussion I asked several questions, including whether Nestlé was now prepared to accept the four-point plan for ending the boycott, and offered to engage in a Tweet debate with Nestlé today. Nestlé did not respond to any of these postings.

    For my take on why Nestlé tries to gain influence over key communicators and other aspects of what happened on Twitter see:
    http://boycottnestle.blogspot.com/2009/09/nestl

  • http://boycottnestle.blogspot.com/ Mike Brady

    I became aware of this event due to the amount of traffic coming to Baby Milk Action sites from people posting links on Twitter.

    When Nestlé joined the discussion I asked several questions, including whether Nestlé was now prepared to accept the four-point plan for ending the boycott, and offered to engage in a Tweet debate with Nestlé today. Nestlé did not respond to any of these postings.

    For my take on why Nestlé tries to gain influence over key communicators and other aspects of what happened on Twitter see:
    http://boycottnestle.blogspot.com/2009/09/nestl

  • delthedad

    To your remark about the President and people like Joe Wilson who have no respect for the president of his country (he may not even feel President Obama is hispresident, who knows with blatant disrepectful shout outs like he did), and to compare that to a hashtag on twitter chat starting is just plain stupid. So if your stupid for making that, its ok.

    By Joe Wilson stating Obama was a liar, he himself was lying. So if he is lying, then the person who he accused of lying is not lying. So in fact Joe Wilson was in the wrong and completely accused someone of something they never did (yet he sticks to it like he just altered history). You think that lying and making insults when they are in a place of order, not a tweet room free to anyone to join, and this is ok.

    Sorry to get off topic, but lets just clear this up before people continue on it. I see how you can see that it kind of got hijacked, but people are free to do what you want. I am sure Nestle is/was aware that people may join who they did not know. If they did not want people to join they could have created a small forum.

  • delthedad

    To your remark about the President and people like Joe Wilson who have no respect for the president of his country (he may not even feel President Obama is hispresident, who knows with blatant disrepectful shout outs like he did), and to compare that to a hashtag on twitter chat starting is just plain stupid. So if your stupid for making that, its ok.

    By Joe Wilson stating Obama was a liar, he himself was lying. So if he is lying, then the person who he accused of lying is not lying. So in fact Joe Wilson was in the wrong and completely accused someone of something they never did (yet he sticks to it like he just altered history). You think that lying and making insults when they are in a place of order, not a tweet room free to anyone to join, and this is ok.

    Sorry to get off topic, but lets just clear this up before people continue on it. I see how you can see that it kind of got hijacked, but people are free to do what you want. I am sure Nestle is/was aware that people may join who they did not know. If they did not want people to join they could have created a small forum.

  • http://www.phdinparenting.com/ Annie @ PhD in Parenting

    Yes- that is correct. As soon as we found out about this event, we started telling attendees why they should be careful and consider not going. Most of them brushed us off. Some said they would go and ask questions. It was when they said: “So what questions?” that I wrote my open letter to them.

  • http://www.phdinparenting.com/ Annie @ PhD in Parenting

    Yes- that is correct. As soon as we found out about this event, we started telling attendees why they should be careful and consider not going. Most of them brushed us off. Some said they would go and ask questions. It was when they said: “So what questions?” that I wrote my open letter to them.

  • http://www.bbpr.wordpress.com Bill Byrne

    Anyone familiar with “Comcast Must Die”?

    Online publishing gives consumers the ability to voice their opinion (and expose how companies do business) to a much larger audience than ever before.

  • http://www.bbpr.wordpress.com Bill Byrne

    Anyone familiar with “Comcast Must Die”?

    Online publishing gives consumers the ability to voice their opinion (and expose how companies do business) to a much larger audience than ever before.

  • http://www.bbpr.wordpress.com/ Bill Byrne

    Anyone familiar with “Comcast Must Die”?

    Online publishing gives consumers the ability to voice their opinion (and expose how companies do business) to a much larger audience than ever before.

  • http://www.bbpr.wordpress.com/ Bill Byrne

    Anyone familiar with “Comcast Must Die”?

    Online publishing gives consumers the ability to voice their opinion (and expose how companies do business) to a much larger audience than ever before.

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