After a year of abuse, Nestlé is reconsidering its open-door policy, which has led to a barrage of ugly attacks on its Facebook page.
In a recent post
, the Swiss chocolatier said it is soliciting comments as it revisits how it should handle offensive language and personal attacks on its Facebook page.
The company said:
“You may know that we allow anyone to post anything on this page. It means we get to hear a whole range of comments and views, a lot of which is valuable, and we want to host a page where everyone feels comfortable sharing their views on us, our products and the wider world.
“That said, we are concerned about the use of extremely offensive language, sometimes combined with personal abuse, that have cropped-up. We want to keep the page as open as possible to all views, and criticisms, and are concerned that some of highly hostile language puts some people off in joining the debate.”
Then, following 50 comments blasting the company for “muzzling” and “censoring” comments, Nestlé jumped on again and elaborated upon its initial comment.
“Thanks for all the feedback, which we really appreciate. We want to clarify that our only topic of concern is offensive language…which to date we have not edited or deleted…We encourage all the members of this page to keep these conversations going—we’re always keen to hear your viewpoints.”
The cries of censorship reached a fever pitch last year when Nestlé tried to police its page, threatening to ban those who posted using an altered version of its logo.
That was chicken feed to what occurred next.
Greenpeace took on Nestlé for using palm oil in its candy bars. Greenpeace alleged that the company is “trashing” rainforests.
The general public then took to Nestlé’s Facebook page—launching a social media protest campaign that sent shockwaves through PR departments around the world. Turned out there’s a dark side to social media, too.
If you happen to find yourself in a Facebook crisis, here are some pointers to help you navigate through it.
1. Have a plan.
Be prepared with a social media crisis response plan before news goes sour. Though it’s easy just to delete a negative post, doing so is not always the best solution. Consider replying, and setting the record straight. Sometimes honesty is the best defense, and in some cases other members of the page will come to your defense.
2. State the rules.
Clearly state the intent of the Facebook page. For instance, under the “Info” tab, make it clear that the purpose of the page is to foster conversation with customers. Spell out that foul language and personal attacks will be deleted.
3. Delete and block.
Posts that stray from the stated purpose of the page should be deleted. If the person returns with a negative post, it’s time to block them from the page.
4. Shut it down.
In a worst-case scenario, when the page is under attack by multiple people, turn off the member comments switch. Though this creates only a one-way flow, it gives members a much-needed cooling-off period.
5. Monitor, monitor, monitor.
Have a monitoring plan. As you know, action on Facebook appears late at night, so consider having someone monitor the page during off-business hours, especially during a crisis.
Remember, social media is about conversations, good and bad, which means thick skin is a requirement.
Gil Rudawsky is a former reporter and editor with 20 years of experience. He heads-up the crisis communication/issues management practice at GroundFloor Media in Denver. Read his blog or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.