Social Media strides ever forward

17 06 2010

Since I wrote my article: How not to do Social Media – Orangutans 1-0 Nestle, back in March 2010, I’ve been itching to bring you an update. To serve as a quick recap, Nestlé Fan page (on Facebook) had been swamped by critics voicing concern over palm oil use, deforestation, orang utan’s lost habitat etc. Nestlé’s response was a lesson in poor social media relations.

During the past 8 weeks, Greenpeace have led a very aggressive and successful campaign – kick starting publicity with the now famous non Kit Kat advert – achieving nearly 1.5 m views, encouraging their fans to send out over 200,000 emails/phone calls (I have to lay my cards on the table and declare I was one of them) and countless FaceBook comments to keep the pressure on Nestlé executives. This all occurring on the eve of Easter, the company experienced reduced sales and share price drop. They continued pressure by featuring orang-utans at Nestlé HQ, and hijacking the AGM by dropping banners and leaflets in Switzerland.

Whilst Greenpeace were hoping for a positive reaction – Nestlé had originally back peddled by issuing a pledge to achieve sustainable palm oil by 2015 – a date by which orangutans could be extinct…

However, Greenpeace and the public at large, were surprised to received Nestlé’s comprehensive ‘zero deforestation’ policy so quickly.

They advised that they were making progress on certified palm oil and palm oil certificates even more rapidly, with 18% of our purchases covered in 2010, and expected to reach 50% by the end of 2011.

Furthermore, in a letter to Greenpeace from the Nestlé chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, he highlighted how his company will not tolerate supplies from non-sustainable sources or suppliers will face the risk of being de-listed. He also confirmed his company’s active involvement in the Roundtable in Sustainable Palm Oil, but more importantly action at the field level.

The Forest Trust (TFT) – an independent organisation – will be closely monitoring Nestlé’s progress to make sure they stick to their pledge.

This is certainly a victory for environmentalist (“Nestlé fans’ and those concerned about the orangutans) and demonstrates how social media can play an active and important role to engage and communicate between big brands and business.

Nestlé is not the only company involved in the sourcing of unsustainable palm oil and many major supermarkets and other food manufacturers are reviewing their policies before they get targeted.

Meanwhile, the destruction of the Indonesian/Malaysian rainforests continues and Greenpeace are not sitting back to bathe in their glory for too long. They have now decided to turn their attention to the financial sector and have commence a new campaign aimed at HSBC. You may ask what their role is in deforestation? The bank provides funding to Sinar Mas, a company who has a long track record to supply palm oil from unsustainable sources.

Whilst the bank’s corporate statements claim to have had “a long standing commitment to protecting the environment” they turn a blind eye to what Sinar Mas and others are doing to our world. Greenpeace wishes to let the HSBC bosses know what a devastating effect their investments are having.

Nestlé were shamed into stepping up their environmentalist support, but it would have been far better if they had taken a leadership role from the beginning. By being slow to react to the social media critics, they faced damaged and their new position is, whilst honourable, is less impressive.

Social media offers all businesses a powerful tool for use in today’s harsh climate, but ensure you have your objectives, policies and goals in place. Be ready to adapt and seize the moment to respond positively. The rules of doing business and engagement have changed. We are no longer led by the thoughts of pr/marketing folk or magazine/tv/radio editors. Social media has changed all of that. Thousands of people will reach out and comment if they don’t like what a company is doing. However, get it right and you have thousands of advocates ready to sing your praises.

HRH the Prince of Wales launches new environmental project

16 06 2010

Last week in Oslo, Heads of State and Government, ministers and other representatives from some fifty countries concluded an agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation. Around $4.5 billion has been pledged for the period 2010–2012 to support measures to reduce deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. The UK’s Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales gave a keynote speech at this event, where the work of the Prince’s Rainforest Project (PRP) was recogised by the heads of Government and ministers at the meeting.

The Prince’s work has indeed made a significant contribution to the successful outcome of the REDD+ finance programme and attendees at this meeting thanked him for bringing the forest agenda to the attention of world leaders.

Building on the success of PRP a brand new initiative from The Prince’s Charities Foundation Start ( is a new project designed to promote and celebrate sustainable living. For more details, go to the link where you might wish to sign up to their website.

The aim of Start is to help people in the UK take clear, positive and practical steps towards a better future. Start will do this by highlighting the very best examples of sustainable practice in the UK, and showing how we can all make positive changes right now.

The “starting” point is the website, which is growing every month and includes sections on eating, travel, recycling, saving energy, and much more. These explain the big issues simply and without jargon, and show what can be achieved.

Throughout 2010, Start will grow into an increasingly vibrant and diverse programme, which will engage people and communities right across the country. Two exciting events for September have just been announced.

First, ‘A Garden Party to make a difference’ which will see HRH The Prince of Wales joining forces with musicians, comedians, environmental experts and some of Britain’s best known companies to create a unique festival in the heart of London.

Alongside there will be the IBM summit which will convene business and industry thought leaders to discuss the next steps that should be taken to enable economic, environmental and societal sustainability.

Start’s ultimate goal is to form a growing and like-minded collective of individuals and communities that will help to shape a more sustainable future for the UK and the world at large.

Feeling inspired? Go on, give them your support.

Fête de la Musique 2010 hits the streets

15 06 2010

The Summer Solstice will be celebrated once again on 21 June, but this ancient celebration is now being overshadowed by what is known as World Music Day. The origins of this stem back to 1982 when on the streets of Paris, France the Fête de la Musique was launched by Jack Lang, the French Minister of Culture at the time.

The idea was to promote the right of all amateur and professional musicians to perform for free in locations around the country (from concert halls to street corners).

Since 1985, this idea has spread and been celebrated in most EU countries as well as further afield in USA, Brazil, China, Nigeria and Morocco. However, France still leads the way with every town and village in the country entering into the annual celebrations.

Those traveling to France on 21 June should arrive forewarned to bring ear plugs – all noise restrictions are lifted, thus giving the streets the freedom to create an organized cacophony of sounds, sights to stimulate all your senses.

Promotion and publicity is naturally much easier due to advancement in technology. Once again, social media is playing its’ role to spread the word, secure attendees and of course to offer live streaming of events as they occur. There is not one event where smartphones, cameras and videos are not in full use as they capture shots and sounds to share. Those unable to attend can still review the nights entertainment via YouTube, Flickr and other social media sites.

During the past few years, more and more “arranged” events seem to dominate the evening’s line up. For some this has diluted the original spirit of the Fête , but nevertheless, the rules still remain the same. If Grandpa feels he wants to share his talent of spoon playing, or your Auntie is great at knocking out those operatic numbers – feel free to hits the streets and perform – no-one will be arrested!

Meanwhile, for those living or visiting the south of France, near Nice, do yourself a favour and consider supporting Jam’s Band on 21 June 2010.

JAM'S Band, France.

An interesting international, amateur group – mainly comprised from people who work at Hewlett Packard(!) – who demonstrate they have more musical talent than perhaps their geek side work persona. Male and Female lead singers – Jam and Dom (who are French) add a wonderful sexy angle to their English rock singing!

The group covers music from the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s (Pink, U2, Muse etc) – hear a sample of their sound on YouTube: Bohemian Like You (The Dandy Warhols cover) – plus one or two band originals.

Check out Jam’s cover of Bohemian Like You (The Dandy Warhols)

The band will be performing on 21 June at 21.00h in St Laurent Du Var. Playing Live, together with another group, at the port in front of the Bandiera Blue Restaurant – should be a good recipe for a fun night out – Stimulate all your senses: View, Aroma, Sound, Taste and Touch if you dare (;-)

Concert : Bandiera Blu Restaurant
167 PROMENADE DES FLOTS BLEUS – 06700 Saint-laurent-du-var,France Tel 06 60 03 74 23‎

Jam's Band

Using your spare minutes to make change. An Extraordinary young man – Jacob Colker

1 06 2010

In our overloaded lives few of us have time to help charities in their work or contribute to any major project that could help the world. A young man is hoping to change all of that. By using technology, via a smartphone, he is adapting volunteering to the 21st century. Jacob Colker, co-founder of the Extraordinaires, is convinced that the world can be transformed by changing the way people engage in community service. The Extraordinaires have pioneered a method of harnessing human time and energy on a mass scale. By gathering micro-volunteers it is hoped that his company can help thousands of non-profit organisations, scientific projects or community activities by turning spare time into social value.

As the company website suggests, “Most of us don’t have a Saturday to give to something we’re passionate about, but we do have spare moments…lots of them. Despite busy schedules, we often find ourselves with idle time: waiting for the metro, in line for a haircut, at the doctor’s office or when a friend is late to dinner.” Clearly five minutes work is not going to change the world but by motivating thousands of people to use their time when they are riding the bus, standing in queues etc a few minutes concentrated work on his site, well that could make a big difference.

The company has an internet platform that allows anyone with a smartphone to carry out micro tasks such as:

• Help identify businesses, cities, and schools that are “going green.”

• Inspire children to break out of extreme poverty by writing a message of encouragement.

• Help Greenpeace catalogue pictures from a recent Arctic Climate Impacts voyage.

• Help Nasa identify galaxies by examining their shapes

• Translating CV’s for newly arrived immigrants looking for work

Thanks to this ingenious new site, people can pool together what would be lost waste minutes to impact the lives of their favourite charity, community or project.

It should be pointed out that the Extraordinaries is a for-profit social enterprise. They are currently applying to become a B-corp, a new type of corporation that uses the power of business to solve social problems.

Have a minute? Use your smartphone to make a difference!

Founded in July of 2009, The Extraordinaries to-date have attracted micro-volunteers to complete over 300,000 tasks for more than 200 organizations, including The Smithsonian, KaBoom!, First Aid Corps, Big Cat Rescue, Citizens Market, Christel House, and the 1Sky Campaign. Their work has been featured by CNN, Time, NPR, ABC, NBC, and more, and they’re supported by leading social benefit organizations including Echoing Green, Knight Foundation, Ashoka, Rolex Foundation, NetSquared, and the United Nations.

Do you know a nonprofit that could benefit from a micro-volunteering program? Help them discover the power of skills-based micro-volunteering at