I have little to no interest in rehashing the specifics of the debacle Nestle found itself in on Facebook last week. There have already been plenty of write-ups of the situation already, many of which have taken the obvious, and lazy, rhetorical route of declaring what one party or the other did a “FAIL.” The truth is that Nestle has every right in the world to enforce its copyright concerns on a page of its own making, but doing so is difficult since what it was asking people to do – not use altered versions of its corporate logo as their avatars – impacted how those people were able to express themselves outside of that page.
What’s important to learn from this is the importance of having clear communication channels established between the brand and its audience. If a change is coming in terms of forum ground rules what needs to be communicated is not only the change but also rationale behind it.
More than anything, though, what’s needed is active listening and shifts in engagement strategies based on what’s being said back to the brand by the members of the community. As soon as push-back on any point is apparent there needs to be a reevaluation of the message. That can result in a change or it may result in a commitment to the original goal. But taking that step back – heck, even going for a physical walk outside for some fresh air in the midst of an increasingly heated exchange – means at least a bit of time has been taken to make sure that a hole isn’t just being made deeper by continuing down a path in the face of resistance.