Monthly Archives: May 2010

Social media backlash pushes Nestlé to evaluate palm oil policies

Well what do you know? Nestlé listened.  Following a two month Greenpeace assault on palm oil purchasing practices of the food giant, Nestlé announced earlier this week that they will stop purchasing palm oil (used in many popular products like Kit Kats) from companies that own “high-risk” plantations and farms.  These high-risk plantations are accused of driving the destruction of natural habitats for animals like the orangutan. The new “zero-deforestation” policy is in partnership with The Forest Trust that will work with Nestlé to amend its palm oil purchasing policies.

Nestlé’s decision comes after a tumultuous 8-weeks in which Greenpeace released a provocative video on YouTube to raise awareness of Nestlé’s questionable methods for acquiring palm oil.  The video, which likens eating a Kit Kat to eating an orangutan, was subsequently removed by Nestlé; an action that spurred an even greater backlash from the Greenpeace community who bombarded Nestlé with calls, emails and Facebook page comments. Now enter social media “meltdown” as Nestlé representatives responded to Facebook comments with mild requests for users to stop using altered versions of the Nestlé logo as their Facebook profile picture or risk their comments being taken down.  Needless to say, users were not happy with this restriction of their right to publicly protest on an open forum like a company’s Facebook page and the comment threads were shared on blogs and news articles across the Internet – directing even more negative attention toward Nestlé.

As a result of the targeted Greenpeace campaign and the added headache of a social media crisis, Nestlé was forced to pay attention and had to address the problems with the palm oil it buys. Hopefully, Nestlé’s new policies will help save some orangutans and make some of us feel better about eating Kit Kats.

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Zero to Hero: Does increasing Twitter followers increase influence?

The HORROR!!!!  Because of some bug yesterday, Twitter follow/following numbers were at 0…for everyone.  Even Ashton Kutcher.  What?  No follow/following numbers?  How will we know who the “influentials” are if we don’t know who has millions of followers?  Well, its a good thing that a recent study by Meeyoung Cha of the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems in Germany (via Harvard Business Review) has officially proven that the number of Twitter followers an individual has is largely meaningless.  Whew!  We can all relax. Maybe.

Cha’s study discredits the notion that increasing followers increases influence.  And while counting followers is not necessarily a bad metric, it is not sufficient to capture influence.  Cha suggests that businesses should try to increase audience responsiveness, in the form of retweets and mentions, rather than just increasing the number of followers. I think influence is driven by trustworthiness, consistency, reciprocation, and technical expertise, not just by numbers as Cha suggests.  However, reach can be considered an important feature of influence as it enables the sender of information to have their message at least seen by a large number of people, and probably internalized and acted upon by some.

However, messages passed on within more strongly connected trusted networks have greater impact than those circulated through more dispersed communities.  So it’s give and take.  With a million followers, you have more people seeing your message, but have fewer guarantees they find value in it and be motivated to action.  But with 50 followers who you’ve shared a non-Internet based conversation with in your lifetime, you don’t have as many people seeing your message, but they are probably way more likely to trust and act on your recommendation or solicitation.

I’m torn on this debate.  How important is increasing Twitter followers to increasing influence?  Thoughts?

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Confessions of a former Abraham Harrison intern

On Friday my time as an intern with Abraham Harrison came to a close, and I remain overwhelmed by how much the experience has taught me and how all that I’ve learned is now influencing my career path.  During my internship I not only gained new skills, but deepened my interest in social media and digital public relations and made professional connections that will continue beyond my internship.  Since May is a time when many graduates reflect on their time at school, I figure I should do my due diligence and share a bit about my own journey with AH and my preparations for a new career. Continue reading

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