I certainly am a strong believer of the fact that Social Media can make or break a company’s online reputation. In the latest campaign by McDonald, it was certainly a breaker for them.
Looking into the growing popularity of Twitter, McDonald decided to put some cash into their Twitter campaign and buy some Twitter hashtags to promote its use of fresh produce. They inserted paid-for-tweets with hashtag #MeetTheFarmers.
The campaign was only meant to last for 24 hours but it soon became a disaster. To make matters worse, when McDonald changed it’s hashtag to #McDStories, things became gloomy for the biggest fast food giant. This hashtag was captured by angry customers who couldn’t stop posting their horror stories with McDonald. Check out some examples below:
“Fingernail in my BigMac once #McDStories, McDonald’s Twitter Hashtag Promtion, Goes Horrible Wrong,” said user @capnmarrrk.
“Ordered a McDouble, something in the damn thing chipped my molar. #McDStories,” @PuppyPuncher said.
“Hospitalized for food poisoning after eating McDonalds in 1989. Never ate there again and became a Vegetarian. Should have sued #MCDStories,” @Alice_2112 said.
“Watching a classmate projectile vomit his food all over the restaurant during a 6th grade trip #McDStories,” @jfsmith23 said.
Within an hour’s span, McDonald realized that the campaign had gone horribly wrong and they said that they are planning a change of course.
It brings us to thinking, social media is important but it needs to be carefully planned. It is not like SEO or PPC that a generic strategy will work for any industry. You simply cannot follow 10 best practices and hope to achieve miracle in the social world. Words are very important and you need to carefully select them. One wrong word and there would be a hoard of people holding on to that and trying to break your image.
#MeetTheFarmers was a good one and was receiving positive response, why would they want to change it and invite users to share their horror stories.
Social media is a very enticing platform to talk, you do not realize when to stop and people usually tend to get carried away. It is not your personal chat where you speak anything and everything. This is like chatting publicly, so you need to be really careful as to what you speak and convey.
In my opinion this is the first marketing disaster of the year 2012. Let’s see how the year goes.