Industry: Food Service
Name of Contact: Rick Wion, (Former) Director of Social Media, McDonald’s Corporation
Description of How Social Media is Used for Business Performance:
In January 2012, McDonald’s deployed a series of YouTube videos drawing attention to the company’s freshness guarantee. The heart-felt videos showcased the unique stories of the company’s beef, potato and lettuce farmers around the world. McDonald’s paid tribute to the suppliers by sharing their videos using the hashtag #MeetTheFarmers on Twitter, as shown here:
Soon after the campaign’s release, the hashtag was switched by McDonald’s marketers to #McDStories to open up a forum with passionate farmers who were quickly engaging with the brand via social media. The intention was to have Twitter users also engage with the brand by encouraging them to share their positive experiences with the fast food chain.
According to PR Daily, this newly promoted hashtag garnered the attention of critics who quickly utilized #McDStories to share horror stories about the company’s food, employees or the conditions of local restaurants, as shown here:
According to Forbes Magazine, the promoted hashtag appeared on Twitter’s homepage for less than two hours before the campaign was pulled by McDonald’s.
“As Twitter continues to evolve its platforms and engagement opportunities, we’re learning from our experiences” says Rick Wion, Director of Social Media, McDonald’s Corporation.
What began as an attempt at transparency and awareness had drastically shifted to criticism and general negativity. The #McDStories campaign had opened an unfiltered forum for Twitter users to proclaim their dissatisfaction with the brand, similar to one comedian’s frustration with fellow McDonald’s patrons:
Source: John Pinette: In the McDonalds Line (SoundCloud)
Lessons for Others:
According to Rick Wion “if anything, the lesson of #McDStories is that we can be an easy target for people who are uniformed.” While true, the failure of this campaign is largely due to the fact that McDonald’s choice of hashtag was far too vague and the audience was much too broad.
It is important for marketers to keep in mind that consumers are 7 times more likely to share negative experiences over positive ones. The likelihood of attracting feel-good, warm stories from an audience of opinionated influencers is highly unlikely. Rather than pose a question to an unbiased audience, McDonald’s may have had more luck if they were targeted in their messaging by directing the hashtag to solely “fans” of the brand. Overall, #McDStories was a #McFail.
Submitted By: Cristina Avila
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