So I woke up this morning to find this rather amusing post from the Daily Mail’s Twitter feed:
The original campaign had been to promote positive stories about the farmers who grow produce for the world’s most famous fast food brand using the hashtag #MeetTheFarmers. The stunt magnificently backfired however when the hashtag was changed on one tweet from McDonalds Twitter feed from #MeetTheFarmers to #McDstories, then subsequently hijacked by the not so shy and retiring voice of the Twitter community……
@McDonalds “When u make something w/pride, people can taste it,” – McD potato supplier #McDStories”
The use of this more general hashtag certainly got people Tweeting their #McDstories, but as I suspect, not quite in the light those poor MaccyD Marketers were hoping!
@Muzzafuzza ”I haven’t been to McDonalds in years, because I’d rather eat my own diarrhea.”
@Alice_2112 “Hospitalized for food poisoning after eating McDonalds in 1989. Never ate there again and became a vegetarian. Should have sued #McDStories”
@PuppyPuncher “Ordered a McDouble, something in the damn thing chipped my molar #McDStories”
This MaccyD Twitter disaster is a prime example of how an online campaign can turn from a simple stunt into a full blown brand crisis in the blink of an eye.
So what went wrong?
Well, first of all, that clever communications team at McDonalds HQ forgot one major thing: GREAT BRAND, POOR PRODUCT!
They are a fast food chain with a high calorie, fat and salt count which has contributed highly to the worlds growing obesity endemic! So why do they insist on the constant need to pretend they are “natural” and “healthy”, when, as quite clearly demonstrated by the disgruntled Tweeters of #McDStories, they are not and never will be…..no matter how many times we #MeetTheFarmers or buy a salad box to go with our Big Mac and fries! To prevent further brand damage, they should simply embrace the fact they are a fast food chain instead of this contrived attempt to pull the wool over consumer eyes.
Second, that clever communications team at McDonalds HQ also forgot the most important and seemingly obvious thing about Twitter – TWITTER IS A TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION PLATFORM!
Unlike placed media advertisements, controlled Facebook pages or viral marketing videos for YouTube, the basis of Twitter’s popularity is the fact that it gives a voice to ordinary people like you, me and the tweeters behind the #McD[horror]Stories.
There is no means of one-way control over Twitter, it is a loose cannon designed to generate community conversation which is why it is so fundamentally fantastic. It is a channel to talk about the good and the bad (mainly the bad in this instance), and give power back to the people to have their say. Simply put, it provides organisations with a voice, but equally provides consumers and activists with a voice too.
Social media voices should be symbiotic in nature, not antagonistic, hence the name “social”. The sooner big brands such as McDonalds realise this, along with the fact they are no longer infallible to the wrath and online speed of the public voice, the sooner they can come to embrace social media for productive brand building purposes rather than one-way publicity stunts.