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