A curse on your pages: Facebook madness from Nestle and Beneful

Beneful, a Nestle subsidary which manufactures dog food, is in trouble:


If you’re making dog food, and people start saying that your product is killing their dogs then that’s about as bad as it gets.

You may remember that Nestle provided social media consultants with one of the best, and most public examples about how to mis-manage a Facebook page with the palm oil debacle – here’s one of many blog posts which covered this. One of the key problems with this was censorship, and the deletion of posts.

How to avoid treading this road again? Address the situation head on, speak to the customers, try and gauge the scale of the problem maybe? Nope. Instead, in the face of a growing storm Beneful posts things like the following:




While, at the same time, their Facebook page is starting to fill up with things like:

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 8.59.28 PM

Which gets a response something like this:

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 9.00.52 PM

It seems like Beneful are going down the same road which Nestle trod a few years ago – threaten your page fans with deletion and remain anonymous as possible; further, don’t address the issue directly.

And here’s why this is, generally, a bad move:

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 8.58.05 PM

Cultivating a following of ‘influencers’ works both ways – have a good product, be respectful and people will love you for it. Start disrespecting your followers, particularly by censoring posts, and you’ve not only set your Facebook page on fire, but are merrily throwing petrol onto the flames.

And here’s the impact on existing customers:

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 8.52.19 PM

It’s easy to criticise, but here some things I would do in this situation:

– Stop being so goddamn anonymous; use your first name when you moderate or comment; try and give people a name to which they can talk to. Anonymity makes it much easier to be offensive, and get treated the same.

– Use Facebook to acknowledge the current situation; for every hater, there’s a bunch of people who, for the time being, think your brand’s okay. Directly acknowledging the problem, sharing the facts and describing the action you are taking is the mature thing to do. Posts about skyping dogs, in the face of news articles about less than healthy hounds make it look like you’re ducking the issue. Regardless of whether the product is fine, or not, you need to be proactive with the facts – even if it is bad news. Who else can help?- can the FDA support your claims, for example, that everything is okay?

Nestle’s Digital Acceleration Team became a bit of a big deal a while ago – so why does this feel like familiar territory for Nestle?

Update: Beneful are clearly using copy and paste – they seem to spend more time informing people they are removing their posts that actually doing anything meaningful. Community management, this is not.

Thanks to the awesome Corporate Bollocks Facebook page for tipping me off about Beneful.


7 thoughts on “A curse on your pages: Facebook madness from Nestle and Beneful

  1. Pingback: If you’re making dog food, and people start saying that your…

  2. Excellent article, John. NESTLÉ® continues to serve as the unmitigated leader of poor marketing and customer service. Despite a multitude of complaints about Beneful on Consumer Affairs and their own FB page, NESTLÉ® Purina has continued to provide a company stance that all of their products are safe, and that the stories people have seen contain “false and misleading information”. In addition, they have repeatedly told consumers that their product is made in the USA, while refusing to disclose the source of their ingredients.

    In a recorded telephone conversation, NESTLÉ® Purina finally admitted that Beneful’s “nutrient supplements” are sourced from China. In addition, they confirmed that samples received from owner’s whose dogs became sick or died, have not been analyzed by an independent third party or lab.

    NESTLÉ® has historically placed profit above the health of their consumers, and it is a travesty that people are watching their dogs die for the sake of corporate profits.

    The video that follows, contains a recorded conversation with a NESTLÉ® Purina representative regarding Beneful products, and the alleged reports of dogs dying. The conversation becomes very interesting at 3:17, when the representative finally begins to admit that some ingredients are sourced from China.

    Several people have attempted to post this video on the Beneful FB page, and it has immediately been deleted by NESTLÉ® Purina representatives. How do you think this action is being interpreted by consumers? Community management, indeed.

    Joy A. Schymanski

  3. The beneful issue may have nothing to do with China. The latest issues began in the last four months of 2012. Please note that the FDA was aware that farmers at least in Iowa, were experiencing moldy corn in their fields early on due to the droughts. Farmers were to check the corn before bringing it to the grain mills. Moldy corn causes aflatoxins. Aflatoxins cause the symptoms that have been reported in all of the posts on consumer affairs. In the video above, the beneful rep says that although people have sent them samples, NO TESTS HAVE BEEN RUN TO DATE. How many more months have to go by before someone runs a test? How long does a test really take? Farmers use a black light on the grain. If aflatoxins are present, there will be fluorescent particles on the feed. Anyone who suspects their pet had a negative reaction to beneful dog food needs to report to the FDA. Unfortunately it apparently takes a huge number of complaints before the FDA investigates.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s