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How Nestle Turned A Social Media Nightmare Into Brand Innovation

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Nestle has been around for a long time – it’s approaching its 150th anniversary. What started out as an infant formula business today owns 10,000 different products across 2000 different brands. Not only does the company sell 1.2 billion products a day, but it’s making connections with consumers via Facebook (210 million fans over about 850 brand pages), and by sharing approximately 1500 pieces of unique content per day. So what could possibly go wrong?
After facing a social media and PR catastrophe four years ago, and lacking the internal procedure to handle it correctly, the brand executives at Nestle knew it needed to revamp its entire digital marketing plan. Nestle’s Pete Blackshaw, Global Head of Digital and Social, and Mark Brodeur, Global Head of Digital Marketing Innovation, shared the lessons of this experience at the 2014 Ad Age Digital Conference.
The Social Media Nightmare
In 2010, Greenpeace launched a full on social media attack on Nestle regarding its methods for acquiring palm oil. The company responded by pulling a video from YouTube, which only fired Greenpeace up more to rally people to mobilize against Nestle.
In short, Nestle had a PR nightmare on its hands and had to make a big decision as to how to rebuild its reputation. The first order of business was to announce a zero deforestation policy. But the company also needed to do some deep thinking about the poor way in which it handled the social media backlash.
Nestle’s Social Media Strategy
After what Blackshaw and Brodeur call a “teachable moment,” senior executives made a trip to Silicon Valley to come up with a brand strategy informed by insights and creativity. They devised an aggressive agenda, with the ultimate goal of becoming a fast-moving consumer goods leader in leveraging digital and social media to build brands and digital audiences.
The Execution
To accomplish brand building “the Nestle way,” they embraced some fundamentals: focusing on how to delight with product experience, knowing the consumer, winning with shoppers, and creating engaging brand experiences. Two successful initiatives were created by forging important partnerships. Nestle brand Purina acquired Petfinder, the largest online pet adoption network. With seven million unique visitors per month, Nestle was able to tap into a large audience of pet lovers. And through a partnership with Google, Android named one of its system updates Kit Kat, creating awareness for a beloved Nestle brand. Unique partnerships is where Nestle has made the most significant achievements in digital marketing.
Rapid Scaling of Knowledge
Return on investment is dependent on the degree to which you can share knowledge and collaborate with your employees. That’s why Nestle created an internal social network for its 200,000 employees and engages in regular “hackathons” with brand leaders to problem-solve internally. By internalizing social media principles, the company keeps everyone in the loop, and even distributes how-to video content to its brand builders.
The big takeaway from Nestle’s presentation: innovation is disruptive, uncomfortable, and uncertain, but that’s what is necessary to make the big breakthroughs and find brand success.
By Dawn Papandrea, NewsCred Contributor

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