Nestlé, a consumer goods company based in Switzerland, decided it needed a more serious approach to handle social media and critical online comments by customers about their products: hire online comment watchers.
Meet Nestlé's "Digital Acceleration Team", the Swiss-owned multinational nutritional company's special unit that monitor and observe social media sentiments and online comments about their products.
The food company best known for Nestlé brands like Nescafe, Nestea, Gerber, Milo and Kit Kat, maintains their high-tech and digitally sophisticated monitoring office in Vevey, Switzerland. The company employs around two dozens of 'digital acceleration' staff not only for social media promotion, but mainly to focus on "damage control" and handle "online critics".
"People have been complaining about companies forever, but before... they did it at the water cooler or at the bar.... now they are doing it online and spreading their complaints to disparate communities." said Bernhard Warner, co-founder of UK-based Social Media Influence in a report for Reuters.
In an ordinary day at the Swiss company's headquarters, the Digital Acceleration Team is "watching, listening, engaging, transforming and inspiring." According to the Reuters report by Emma Thomasson, the digital unit spends around eight-month training to work on their work station, described by Thomasson as something like a "mini TV studio", without the bustles of a stock trading floor or a media news room.
Nestlé's executive officer for digital marketing and global media Pete Blackshaw points out on the report on how his staff handles the Twitter trending activities, where the digital center's screens 'lit up and highlights' critical Nestle topics in the U.S., Europe and other parts of the world.
"If there is a negative issue emerging, it turns red," said Blackshaw as quoted in the interview. "When there are a high number of comments... it alerts you that you need to engage."
Blackshaw said that his team responds in real-time, each one with a certain topic of specialty and a flag of country of origin on their station, where they can transfer and shoot the problem on. The company's screen is powered by software from Salesforce.com Inc, the same platform used by HP, American Red Cross and Continental Airlines to monitor feedback and sentiments.
The $200 billion consumer company set up their digital team a year ago and admitted on doubly spending on the company's business strategy, social media marketing and advertising.
The Reuters report can also be seen in the video "Nestlé: Engagement in a hostile digital world" posted on YouTube on October 26.