At Nestle’s digital nerve centre, interacting with the enemy
This is the nerve centre of the company’s Digital Acceleration Team. By monitoring conversation about its products on social media — right down to “realtime recipe tweets” across the United States — they aim to win over a sometimes hostile world.
Other companies, such as PepsiCo, Danone and Unilever, have exploited the opportunities to promote themselves online. But Nestle is also concentrating on using social media for damage limitation.
Vilified for years for its sales of baby milk formula in developing countries, Nestle today is confronting its critics online as protesters find newer targets, such as the company’s $7 billion-a-year bottled water business. The $200-billion food and beverage group set up its digital team a year ago, and says it has doubled spending on social media advertising in the last couple of years.
“People have been complaining about companies forever, but before they did it at the water cooler or at the bar,” said Bernhard Warner, co-founder of London-based consultancy Social Media Influence. “Now they are doing it online and spreading their complaints to disparate communities.”
Nestle is not the only bottled water producer under fire. Others including Coca-Cola are also accused of undermining public water systems. Groups such as Boston-based Corporate Accountability International, a non-profit which originated in the protests against Nestle’s infant formula, have alleged for
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