Brands and Social Media faux pas

The Lempert Report
January 11, 2016

What happens when you have a good plan, but don’t know how to communicate it? Nothing.

A new report out from Sustainly found that 15 major food and beverage brands are blowing it in social media when it comes to their sustainability messaging, especially on Facebook. Matthew Yeomans, the firm’s founder, just realized their Big Brand Report 2015 - how brands communicate their sustainability on Facebook. His top line, and I quote, “brands tend to treat Facebook fans as a happy but lobotomized mass.” He also points out that their responses to criticisms are too often lacking in facts or answers and the main efforts revolve around pushing more marketing messages or a simple “contact our customer service” response. His advice? To understand that Facebook is a two-way conversation media, not a platform for pushing marketing messaging.

In the report, Sustainly analyzed 175 brands across 15 companies - nine were food and beverage including PepsiCo, General Mills, Nestle, Mondelez, Mars, Coca-Cola, Unilever, ABF and Danone who combined has over 787 million likes or fans and less than half of those fans have been talked to about these companies sustainability efforts, which we know is critical in attracting and retaining the Millennial consumers. The report notes that on Facebook people are asking serious sustainability questions about nearly every brand which is a missed opportunity for these companies to get out their policies. 

According to Yeomans, the most popular topic is health & wellness (no surprise) followed by sustainable sourcing. There are some exceptions who are taking advantage of the opportunity - Mars, Nestle and Unilever are openly talking about their sourcing of teas, coffees and chocolates. Who in Yeoman’s view is doing the worst? He says Coca-Cola, who boasts 93 million Facebook fans who uses its page to spread the word about “happiness” rather than talking about their initiative to reduce emissions of its core business by 50% and drink production by a third in just 5 years which plays prominently on their website.