Nestlé digital boss Pete Blackshaw: 'Facebook is not just an ad platform'

Pete Blackshaw, global head of digital and social at Nestlé, says large companies should not ignore tough questions on social media or allow a "high five" to go unacknowledged.

Nestlé: has 210 million fans on Facebook says Pete Blackshaw
Nestlé: has 210 million fans on Facebook says Pete Blackshaw

Speaking at the FT Digital Media conference, Blackshaw spoke about the challenges faced when large companies had to scale community management.

He said: "It is like everyone has to create a customer service bureau at every single touch point because that’s what consumers expect and that’s how you build trust.  

"On Facebook we have 210 million fans and they have an expectation. How do we resource that? They are giving you ideas, raising tough questions and you can’t ignore it. It is not just an advertising platform – consumers expect some level of dialogue and we need to work out how you can engage in a consistent, scaled manner."

Blackshaw argued that one of the advantages of globalisation is the ability to learn from markets doing "extraordinarily well" on social media, such as India.

He said: "There are lot of upsides for us by just saying 'thank you'. One way of being empathetic is just dignifying the voice out there and saying we really appreciate that piece of feedback.

"And it is amazing how many companies will leave a wonderful testimonial or a high-five unacknowledged and I think that is a missed opportunity."

Blackshaw admitted not everything needed a response, but believes a consumer asking a legitimate question or making a complaint about a product merits a reply.

David Sternberg, head of media at Manchester United, said that it was hard for the club to moderate social media because of the impassioned nature of football fans.

He explained: "For us there’s no shortage of strong opinions about our product and our brand and social media platforms are open to everybody, not just your fans

"We tend to take a fairly hands-off approach to the issue of moderation because it is frankly a bit of a bottomless pit, and the emotions are so strong it is hard to steer the conversation in a more reasoned direction."

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