Monthly Archives: March 2010

Break me off a piece of Nestle’s social media meltdown

Pay attention PR students…this one will be in the “what not to do” section of the social media case study book for a while.  Nestle, best known for Kit-Kats (IMHO), is embroiled in a fierce “oh no you didn’t” battle with social media…yes, all of it.

Here’s what happened according to Caroline McCarthy at CNET:

So here’s how it appears to have started: Environmental activist group Greenpeace has long been putting the pressure on Nestle to stop using palm oil, the production of which has been documented as a source of deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and endangered species loss. A provocative new Web video campaign (warning: may be a bit nauseating) on behalf of Greenpeace’s U.K. arm targeted the food manufacturer as a threat to the livelihoods of orangutans, and according to Greenpeace, Nestle lobbied to have the video removed from YouTube, citing a copyright complaint. Cue plenty of free press for Greenpeace.

But it got worse. These days, just about every brand has a public forum in the form of a Facebook fan page, and Greenpeace supporters–whom the activist group had encouraged to change their Facebook profile photos to anti-Nestle slogans that often incorporated one or more of the company’s food logos–started posting to the Nestle fan page en masse. Nestle countered with a mild threat: “To repeat: we welcome your comments, but please don’t post using an altered version of any of our logos as your profile pic–they will be deleted.” A Nestle rep diving into the comments of the thread with responses like “Oh please…it’s like we’re censoring everything to allow only positive comments” didn’t calm things down.

Long story short, fans are really TO’ed and Nestle is in social media time-out.  (Finger shaking) Learn how to interact properly with your fans and then you can leave the corner.  Maybe try and take a hint from Starbucks, a company that has weathered storms of criticism and prevailed…mainly based on the company’s loyal Facebook fan page and Twitter following that they have spent a great deal of time and energy building.  For example, last year Starbucks was accused of donating its profits in Israel to fund the country’s army — even though Starbucks doesn’t have any cafés in Israel.  Starbucks’ social media progress allows the company to manage any discontent that is expressed within the social media space.  Starbucks calls this the “embassy strategy,”  making MyStarbucksIdea and its Facebook and Twitter pages places that when you go there you know you’re going to get the straight scoop.

Nestle should have taken the time to listen to the concerns of their fans and not responded so brashly to their comments.  It obvious Nestle customers want the company to stop using palm oil.  Nestle should listen and take this as an opportunity to come out with some new “organic,” non-palm oil Kit-Kats so everyone is happy.  I know I’d buy them and maybe Greenpeace would lay off a bit.

(Disclaimer: I realize I’ve been writing about Starbucks a lot recently.  It’s not cause they paid me to (I wish), but rather it’s because I’m writing about them for my graduate capstone project.  So I’ve been reading about Venti soy lattes for weeks now.  And they have some good social media strategies.)

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Wendy’s (March) Madness

March Madness is upon us once again.  I think Lehigh is going to take the whole tournament this year (I have a deep love for the Patriot League since I graduated from Bucknell and go to American now).  But who knows what could happen? I know Kansas remembers 2005.

Well, Wendy’s is hoping that as we’re all watching Lehigh dance to the championship we’ll be chowing down on some delicious boneless wings.  According to an article from Brandweek, consumers who organize tournament viewing parties using Wendy’s Facebook page could win a $50 gift certificate.  Consumers can also get themselves a gift card by using Twitter.  The big prize is awarded to those who have the funniest and quirkiest responses to various challenges. For instance, in the first week, Wendy’s is asking consumers on Twitter to finish the statement “If taste buds could talk, they’d say: ‘Boneless Wings (finish this from a quirky perspective).”

What I find most interesting about this marketing effort is that it will not receive any advertising support.  It’s social media only.  Wendy’s is hoping to get some good buzz going and build up its network of fans and followers.  With only a modestly popular Facebook and Twitter following for a big brand like Wendy’s (230,000 fans and about 2,800 followers), it will be interesting to see if an effort like this pays off.  Or else we’ll all bear witness to Wendy’s own marketing madness and no one will know about or participate in the contest.

Here’s the link to the whole article: Wendy’s Floods Social Media Zone for NCAA Tourney.

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You should know “lo-so”

Oh foursquare, we meet again.  The first time was on the black-top at recess in the early 90’s.  These days, you are Foursquare (capital “F”) and I can’t help but read about you every where I turn on the Internet.  Foursquare, and other location-based social (lo-so) networks like it, are all the rage these days and all the experts are saying we should all start paying attention.

Foursquare, which was launched at last year’s SXSW, now has over 500,000 users who use the service to “check-in” at various locations in order to earn badges and bragging rights as the “mayor” of that particular place.  The more a user checks-in, the more badges they acquire and the closer they become to the coveted mayor title.  I use Foursquare every once in a while and currently hold the prestigious badge of Newbie that everyone gets when you check-in once (congrats to me).  Chris Abraham, however, holds a number of badges including Superstar (for checking-in at over 50 places), Super Mayor (for being mayor of more than 10 places) and my personal favorite, Overshare (for 10+ check-ins in less than 12 hours).

But even as a lowly Newbie in the Foursquare realm I have to agree with the experts here, and say that Foursquare and other location-based social networks present some pretty cool marketing opportunities for businesses in the form of mobile coupons and real-time promotional offers. An article on Mashable says location-based social networking  allows for a real world connection to social media that could mean more foot traffic and profits for business owners. Well that sounds pretty good.  But my question is: are any businesses actually taking advantage of these opportunities and if so, who is doing it well?

As is the case with any new and shiny social media “toy,” all the experts and gurus seem to agree that lo-so (all the gurus call it that) networks are a hot topic right now, but which businesses are heeding all this advice and implementing strategies that are working?  Granted I am a self-proclaimed Newbie, but all I’ve really heard is that Starbucks may use Foursquare to start giving out mobile coupons, for photo sharing and to build online reputation scores.  But that’s just the “coming soon” phase.

Do you agree that location-based social networks present some interesting marketing opportunities?  Which companies have you read about (or actually experienced) using Foursquare creatively?

(and yes this post is green on purpose.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!)

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Facebook’s 124 billion photos…

…were probably taken on the Royal Carribbean cruise to the Bahamas I went on last week.  Spring break 2010 was in full effect and not only were the sun-burned frat guys and orange-ish sorority girls committed to consuming a constant drip of margaritas and pina coladas, but they were going to capture every minute and post those memories to Facebook.  And just because my under-grad years are finished, I’m no different in my affinity for tequila-infused drinks or my use of Facebook to post all my super-awesome, “my spring break was better than yours” pictures.

According to a Washington Post article, people are posting more and more pictures to Facebook to share them with family and friends, while less and less are actually printing them.  Another boon for Facebook, but a  real hit for the photo printing industry.  Estimates show that about 124 billion photos will be posted to Facebook in 2013, compared to only 42 billion printed in the same year.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook, but this article points out an important fact: Facebook doesn’t have the capacity (yet) to store high resolution photos. The article says:

According to a recent survey from market research firm InfoTrends, fewer than a third of people surveyed knew that photos on social-networking sites are stored at a decreased resolution. This is probably because Facebook photos look just fine on a computer screen. But when they are printed, the images cannot be cropped or enlarged without looking blurry.

So just a word to the wise, if you want to blow-up that photo of your SB 2010 body-shot competition and hang it over the mantle, don’t just save it to Facebook.  Save it to Picasa or your Mac or something else since Facebook has “no plans to make the maximum image-size bigger anytime soon” says company spokesperson Meredith Chin.  So share your super-awesome, “my spring break was better than yours ” pictures all over Facebook, but make sure you save the important ones (body-shots) somewhere else too.

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Social Media Flavor of the Month: ChatRoulette

I’ve been hearing some rumblings about ChatRoulette for a couple weeks now but I was never inspired to check out the newest social media flavor of the month until Phillip Rhoades deemed it important enough to write about on Marketing Conversation.  Well, I guess Monica Hesse deemed it important enough to write about for the Washington Post first, but I happened to check Marketing Conversation first this morning…so Phillip gets the credit.

Basically, ChatRoulette is a website that connects you through video and chat with a random person once you log in and hit “play.”  Then you can either decide to interact with them or move on to the next randomly selected person.  Curiosity peaked, I visited the ChatRoulette site only to be greeted with a live video of the torso of a hairy man in a bubble bath…GROSS.  Not appropriate video content for a girl sitting in public at Starbucks (or sitting anywhere for that matter).

Not wanting to give up on anything abuzz in the social media space too quickly, I gave ChatRoulette a second try.  Maybe this time I’d get something Starbucks-appropriate.  Fail.  Another hairy torso, and the camera was moving south.  I’ve never hit exit so quickly.

The WaPo article reports that 20,000 are now using the site at any given time.  Perv percentage is probably up around 99%.  The other 1% are probably harmless weirdos providing funny/interesting/entertaining content that keeps people coming back.  And because so many people are coming back, advertisers are jumping on board to capitalize on the exposure.  This is where brands need to be diligent in designing their social media strategy and outreach to fit in with the larger communication and marketing picture – and just not jumping in bed with the flavor of the month because that’s where the kids are playing.  I don’t think any company wants their product associated with hairy torso man…well maybe if you are selling bubble bath.

I agree with Phillip in hoping that ChatRoulette goes away pronto.

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