Social Media

So I woke up this morning to find this rather amusing post from the Daily Mail’s Twitter feed:

@MailOnline: “#McDstories: Twitter promotion backfires as users hijack #McDstories hashtag to share fast food horror stories

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… 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.



I just added some information about this onto the “Work” section of my blog. However, I just thought I’d share a little about it here…..

I created this little handbook for a client in summer 2011 to gently ease them into the idea of why and how they should use social media to promote the organisation and reach a wider audience. I made the handbook pretty general so it was applicable to any type of business or organisation, emphasising the importance of social media in a digital-era, and how communication tools can be easily incorporated into the day-to-day functioning of a business without having to bring in an external agency.

Below is a brief extract from the social media section, but if you are interested in reading more, please click on the link above to view the PDF version :)


“Social media is a relatively new form of online communication which proliferated in popularity with the launch of Facebook in 2004. Other major Social Media sites include Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Tumblr.  

New social media pages are established all the time, but Facebook and Twitter remain the major leaders in online communication and networking. A useful professional networking site however is LinkedIn where you can share professional knowledge and expertise about either your individual self or your organisation. 

Social media is the next generation in communication and it is essential that organisations get to grips with its importance, influence and possibility to avoid being left behind in the online social sphere. Social media is especially useful in creating a broader prospective awareness, and is also great to meet and connect with other people or organisations that you may have a specific interest in, or they with you. At a simple level, social media is a fantastic way to share information in a straight-forward, effective and cost-free way. For example you may have added something to the news section on your website – by simply adding a link to your social media pages, you can easily broaden the spectrum of interest and hopefully promote a greater awareness of your organisation.

Of course in order to do this, you must first build up an online following. By adding social media buttons onto your website, and URL’s on any marketing or PR materials, it will allow people to see that you are an active social media user and encourage them to follow and connect with you. Social media should not however just be used as a one-way mechanism, but should act as a two-way communication tool where other social media users can comment you and participate in active online conversations.

Social media can also be used as an excellent form of internal communication. By encouraging staff and service users to follow the organisations social media sites, you can easily keep them up to date with information and events which will show up on their wall feed.

 Social media has opened up a whole new realm of communication possibilities and should not be overlooked or dismissed as a useless piece of technology. It is dynamic and ever-changing in scope and potential and can easily be actively incorporated into the everyday functioning of an organisation.”

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