27 May 2010

Greenpeace 1, Nestle 0

Greenpeace ran a campaign against Nestle. The maker of KitKat was apparently buying palm oil from companies that were clearing rainforests in Indonesia, the natural habitat of countless flora and fauna (including the Orang-utan).

They made a video - first posted on YouTube - and when Nestle had Google pull the plug, re-uploaded on Vimeo. (It's back on YouTube now.) It was seen by over 1.5 million people. Greenpeace says over 200,000 emails were sent to Nestle. Greenpeace activists 'dropped-in' on a Nestle AGM; erected a 'Twitter wall' displaying tweets to Nestle employees, and swarmed Nestle's Facebook page with comment.

Greenpeace won.

But I don't think Nestle lost... they just wised-up.

This video is what started it.

Recently, one friend blogged and tweeted - albeit, on a rather more modest scale - but finally managed to make a stodgy State Government in India sit up and take notice of his legitimate grievance. And another friend took up the cudgels against Boeing on behalf of a spurned 8-year old - and helped get an apology!

Is this all a portent of how Social Media can give anyone with Internet access a voice - and a powerful one at that? Or are they examples of well-framed and well-placed communication campaigns? Or is it the age-old advantage of being part of the right social network?

And while it is indeed nice that the Utopian Social Media gives the 'little guy' a voice, let us not forget that sooner or later, someone will learn to manipulate the system. They always do. Think 'botnets' and 'email spam': Over 90% of ALL email is spam and about 80% of that is sent by hacked zombie computers. So how do we know when that happens to Social Media? Because I just know it will.

But till then I'm all for Social Media activism setting things right when someone steps over the line.

Oh! By the way, Greenpeace has fired one over the bow of HSBC for its investment in companies that are involved in deforestation. Watch that space...

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