If a company still doesn’t “get” how social media has changed the rules of branding by empowering consumers, look no further than the ongoing Nestle firestorm.
Nestle has been in trouble for awhile, mostly related to its continuing use of palm oil in its products. Palm oil is linked to environmental nastiness, including deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and endangered species loss.
Caroline McCarthy of CNET News shared a balanced post about the Nestle brand crisis, triggered by ticked off consumers on Facebook. Nestle was clueless about the power shift enabled by social media and acted in an old-school authoritarian “we own the brand” way. It not only didn’t work, it backfired.
There are vital lessons from the Nestle debacle for professional communicators advising their execs or clients:
- Before diving into social media, make sure key decision makers who think they want to go social media truly “get” how the game is played. It’s not a press release.
- Make sure they understand how Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. aren’t one way vehicles (where the brand dominates the message), but an invitation to a never ending dance with constantly changing partners, some of whom are never your friend and may only want to dance if they can slap your ego and try to make you a better dancer.
- Don’t go social media unless the brand is willing to take the risk of jumping off the cliff, giving up control to customers and consumers who will express their viewpoints, both positive and negative.
- If your company or client wants to control the message, then social media isn’t for them. Look at how Nestle tried to tell people not to post their logos. It will incur a wrath not unlike “It’s not OK for people to use altered versions of your logos but it’s OK for you to alter the face of Indonesian rainforests? Wow!”
- Creating LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts is just the first step. The goal isn’t to tweet or post, it’s to build an active community and an authentic two-way relationship based on trust. It’s easy to get started in social media, but time-consuming and challenging to remain engaged and build a following.
- Remember that even if your company or client decides not to engage in social media, this won’t stop rants, rebellion and revolution. People will find a way to express themselves and let it be known they’re disturbed, upset, confused, disappointed or whatever the view. The train has left the station, so be prepared.
- As we’ve learned from Nestle (and so many others), people don’t want to be scammed, ignored or mistreated. It will come back to bite you. So if your exec or client wants social media to become a positive tool, the brand must be a concerned good listener prepared to take action to correct situations that aren’t right.
Once wireless foes ZigBee and Wi-Fi make up and agree to play nice for smart grid deployments (GreenTechMedia)
[sigh] Nissan Leaf electric car to cost $45K (Earth2Tech)
Frog foam can help make better bio-fuels and carbon capture (GreenBang)
Solar Ivy to grow on your house like, well, ivy? (Jetson Green)
Energy Secretary Steven Chu begins big energy efficiency push (Treehugger)
In a recent news release for a cleantech client I struggled to quantify the energy savings and environmental impact that the technology delivered in a meaningful way. Communicating clean energy benefits can often trigger a mish-mash of metrics, like energy units (e.g. kilowatts/hour) made, dollars saved or potential pollutants scrubbed from the atmosphere.
To that end, Scientific American introduces us to a new scientific measurement for energy savings called the “Rosenfeld” named after the so-called “godfather of energy efficiency,” Scientist Arthur Rosenfeld.
One Rosenfeld equals an energy savings of 3 billion kilowatt-hours per year — the same amount generated by a 500-megawatt coal-run power plant. As Scientific American describes it, the Rosenfeld metric provides a much needed:
“… measurement that would help regular people visualize efficiency’s massive potential, but also be as accurate as possible.”
Weight Watchers have calories, cars have MPG and my woodstove boasts in BTUs. It’s not a bad idea that communications pros in clean tech industries coalesce around a standard, meaningful unit of energy savings measurement. And while we’re at, let’s nickname it the Rosy for simplicity’s sake.
This morning Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu – joined by Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar – announced $100+ million in DOE funding and IRS green manufacturing tax credits for our client SAGE Electrochromics.
These funds will help SAGE establish a new 250,000 sq. ft. facility in Faribault, Minnesota used to manufacture energy-saving, electronically tintable dynamic glass that makes buildings more energy efficient and creates hundreds of new, skilled, green manufacturing jobs.
While hundreds of buildings have already installed SageGlass windows, this new government funding will enable the company to mass produce its glass and bring this energy saving technology to the world.
Secretary Chu has repeatedly said the biggest gains in decreasing this country’s energy bill, the amount of carbon dioxide and our dependency on foreign oil will come from energy efficiency and conservation in the next 20 years. SageGlass is a leading example of an energy efficiency technology.
SageGlass products transform windows from an energy liability to an energy source. The potential for energy savings is significant because energy loss through windows accounts for about 30% of heating and cooling energy. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), electrochromic windows like those produced by SAGE can save one-eighth of all the energy used by U.S. buildings each year. This is equivalent to about 5% of the nation’s energy budget. This translates into savings of approximately $300 billion over the next 20 years.
That’s not chump change.
SAGE focused on something each of us experiences every day – glass – and re-imagined it, transforming glass into something innovative that helps make the world a better place and America more competitive.
This is a great example of how something seemingly mundane like a window can become highly transformational.