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June Bachman June Bachman

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McDonald’s Twitter Campaign #FAIL
By: June Bachman ~ 1/30/2012 8:30:00 AM

The thing to keep in mind when delving into the world of Social Media is that you are NOT in control of the content.  Ultimately, as you create your community, you hope that others will engage in conversation and share related information with each other.  It is fantastic when this works according to plan.  However, when it doesn’t … you need to be prepared to take swift action.

Such is the case with McDonald’s latest Twitter Campaign.  Last week, McDonalds began a media campaign using promoted (paid for) tweets on Twitter.  Their goal was to promote the quality of the ingredients they use in their products.  They created two ads, each with a clickable hashtag #MeetTheFarmers and #McDStories.  McDonals expected fans to share their experiences.  And, share they did … customers used this new platform to air their grievances, such as food-poisoning and poor employees, as well as concerns for animals.

McDonalds still views the event as overall good.   On that day of the campaign, there were over 72,000 mentions of McDonalds and less than 2% were negative – around 1500. 

The reality of the situation is two-fold.  McDonalds was trying to influence their brand perception by sharing information about using farm-fresh ingredients.  Whether they use them or not, the reality of how the brand is perceived, is that they don’t.  The gap was simply too large.  In other words, they made themselves look like they were trying to pull a fast one … and the public didn’t like it.

Furthermore, being unaware of the potential for the backlash, they ran the second ad that encouraged consumers to post their stories.  Completely priming the situation for people to be thinking ill of McDonalds, and then asking those same people to tell everyone what they thought.

Although the overall implementation of the Twitter Campaign was a failure, McDonalds did have a good monitoring plan in place.  Within a few hours of the campaign going sideways, the ads were taken down.

Twitter campaigns may be a terrific way to create some buzz about your business and brand … just be sure to play devil’s advocate and prepare for the worst case scenario in advance!