May 17, 2010; Source: CNET | We’re seeing more examples of how social media can be a powerful tool in the hands of nonprofit groups, especially advocacy organizations. In the latest example, Greenpeace is declaring victory from a Facebook and YouTube campaign that forced Nestle to shift to sustainable methods of harvesting palm in order to protect the rainforests from environmental damage.

For two months, Greenpeace had been airing what is described as a “purposely unsettling video” that likened eating Kit-Kat bars “to snacking on the bloodied appendages of orangutans.” On Monday, the food giant announced that it is forming an alliance with The Forest Trust, which CNET reports is “designed to reduce the social and environmental impacts of Nestle’s corporate supply chain by severing ties to companies that contribute to deforestation.”

Nestle’s troubles weren’t caused by the video alone. Instead, after trying unsuccessfully to halt it from being shown, Greenpeace encouraged supporters to post critical comments about the company on Nestle’s fan page on Facebook. While Nestle didn’t directly acknowledge the social media attacks against it in announcing Monday’s decision, Greenpeace attributed its success to the YouTube and Facebook campaign. In a statement from its U.K. division Greenpeace said, “With nearly 1.5 million views of our Kit Kat advert, over 200,000 emails sent, hundreds of phone calls and countless Facebook comments, you made it clear to Nestle that it had to address the problems with the palm oil and paper products it buys.”

Now that it has announced plans for more environmentally friendly practices, Nestle is finding that visitors to its Facebook page are leaving friendlier comments. Said one person about the company’s change in practices. “I feel more happy today than yesterday.”—Bruce Trachtenberg