#McDStories – stop the #hype!

I have recently become a vocal defender of McDonald’s which is rather unexpected.  A couple of weeks ago, as you may have heard, they started part of a campaign with the sponsored hash tag #McDStories.  Their idea being a way to share their growers’ stories.  For those who have somehow missed this story: the tag was quickly jumped upon to share negative McDonald’s experiences.

So campaign going wrong, what did McDonald’s do? Within two hours they pulled the campaign, they also quickly rolled out their social media director Rick Wion to explain and comment to interested media.  His quotes are down to earth and reasonable. The campaign refocused on another hash tag they were working on #meetthefarmers.   The result?  McDonalds claims only 2% of the tweets were actually negative and it didn’t even make it into the top ten trending topics.

So what went wrong? 1.0 media met 2.0 social media.  And apparently 1.0 doesn’t understand 2.0. So ensued a coverage storm way bigger than the initial story one could argue.  A central principle of social media is opening up to ALL conversations – you have too – not just the version the brand wishes to broadcast.  Accepting you are not perfect and listening to your detractors is all part and parcel of this new world.  You are not going to like everything they say but at least you can listen and learn.  And your wider audience will respect you for it if you do this well.

Now, don’t get me wrong, no-one plans for a campaign to go wrong but if McDonalds did not instigate a campaign with any potential for negativity (given the size of this brand, not everyone will be a fan), the reality is they would either have to quit social media (to jeers of ‘Dinosaur’ no doubt) or reel out campaigns so orchestrated and non conversational (you know who you are some of you juggernaut brands) that they defy the very game changing opportunity that social media has bought.

The real shame is the #fail bandwagon some of the so called social media experts jumped onto.  Trending topics give rise for opportunities for self promotion.  The McDonalds bashing that ensued underlined the lack of understanding of a central social media principle.  And to add to this most detractors had nothing to offer regarding a fail safe system that would have prevented this – because there isn’t one.

Nobody truly active in social media is invulnerable to a failure like this is the real bottom line to this one. The higher the profile the brand the more likely it is to happen.  McDonalds did pretty much everything right.  It had no lasting effect on its sales, share price or brand – seriously, who’s not heard all these stories before – and if you don’t like the food, you don’t like the brand anyway so no loss there either.  What this example really shows us is to be prepared for the media and social media storm that follows the initial mistake.  Until the world view catches up with 2.0 that is.

One Response to #McDStories – stop the #hype!

  1. [...] thoughts and queries. Their campaign has demonstrated that they have learnt a lot from their previous mistakes, e.g. #McDstories, and are now on a path in rebuilding a positive [...]

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