Saturday, May 29, 2010

Social Media Social Activism :: Greenpeace vs. Nestlé's Facepalm Moment

I was reading a Greenpeace Magazine article on Nestlé's use of palm oil in its food products, which is being attributed to rain forest destruction. The palm oil market is growing and its attractiveness is causing suppliers to level rainforests to create monoculture plantations. The above video, "Caught Red Handed" is meant to link the tasty treat of Kit-Kat bars to the harmful effects of palm oil demand on orangutans.

The story doesn't end there. The "Caught Red Handed" video was making the rounds, so Nestlé took action against the Kit-Kat spoof with a take-down request on YouTube, citing copyright infringement. Supporters started to post the video on their own accounts, posted the video on Vimeo, and took potshots at Nestlé with their own videos. Here's a jab using machinima::

Greenpeace UK summarizes Nestlés actions here, as of 18 March. Nestlé was clearly frustrated by the backlash on its Facebook wall and eventually responded by posting links to its new policies shifting towards sustainable sourcing by 2015. Nestlé was using Facebook as a PR channel and in my opinion wasn't prepared to have real conversations in social media. On Facebook, Nestlé posted this WWF palm oil scorecard only to get accused of deleting comments and greenwashing. The big problem I saw was that there was no conversation taking place, so the only communication was in the form of links to policies and requests not to use altered Nestlé logos as Facebook profile images. This caused them to go straight from palm oil to facepalm::

While this one's tricky since those complaining are motivated and vocal, social media also provides a venue to resolve issues. In my opinion, it helps to allow users to have voice and to engage in a dialogue on the issues. Unfortunately, I don't think many companies and organizations are ready to do this, in terms of policies or staffing.

Song:: Warren Zevon-'Leave My Monkey Alone'

Twitterversion:: [blog] Greenpeace viral video on Nestle palm oil sparks catfight & facepalm moment, despite changing sourcing policy. @Prof_K

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