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#McFail: McDonald’s Loses Control Of Hashtag

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Marketers keep telling brand owners to use social media to engage their customers. But there are times companies must wish they had just bought a print ad instead.

McDonald’s is in the midst of stamping out a sardonic Twitter campaign in which critics are using its own hashtag to lambast the company.

The tag #McDStories first turned up on Wednesday when the company tweeted:

The link included a video to a happy farmer and was presumably intended to encourage others to tell their own fond tales of McDonalds.

The hashtag soon become a trending topic but probably not in the way McDonalds had hoped. Here, in the words of @JerseyGirlinPR is what happened next:

Since then, Twitter has been lighting up with a bonanza of crude, funny or devastating zings at McDonalds. And some of the accounts are decidedly not from the suburban types McDonald’s likes to attract:

Hoodrats is goin in on that #McDStories trend. “One time I only had $1.06 and didn’t know if I wanted a Sweet Tea or 2 apple Pies”.

#McDStories Paid for my food but almost left cause I was high and convinced that the workers called the cops and were using my food as bait

McDonald’s original tweet is still at the top of the list — presumably because the fast food giant is paying it to stay there. Everything below is a hashtag horror show.

At the same time, under its own @McDonald’s Twitter account, the company appears to stoking the fire with an ongoing back and forth with PETA. Sample tweet: [email protected] That posting is absolutely FALSE McNuggets are NOT made from mechanically separated chicken. Only USDA inspected white meat.

McDonald’s marketing executives must be pining for the old days of buying only TV commercials, billboards and other media that don’t talk back.

9 Responses to “#McFail: McDonald’s Loses Control Of Hashtag”

  1. I think when you tweet a link to your own broadcast TV commercial, you deserve to be slapped stupid. Good rule, don’t try to send people to content they would fast forward through on their DVR. It won’t end well very often.

  2. It’s not the fault of social media–it’s the fault of stupid marketers that think those new “folksy” commercials about farmers are heart-tugging and somehow make people forget that McDonald’s basically makes unhealthy food. Commercials about how the food is made by happy farmers are not going to change that–the American people aren’t buyin’ it. The whole campaign is awful. Get rid of your PR people and use social media responsibly. They made their own noose on this one. 

  3. My personal opinion, is that if your brand is already making the bucks
    without relying on Social Media, chances are you are not welcomed
    there… Just keep business as it is, and engagement with your customers
    can take place in your own branches/stores.

  4. Good practical case and reminder why social media has a long way to go before marketers allocate money to in the long-term.  I think Facebook and Twitter’s popularity will get them ad dollars, but that’s despite of social media and not because of it.

    • Or a practical reminder that if you are pursuing social marketing you should be all-in so that your marketing strategies don’t start more fires than they put out. Social is expected by today’s consumers, but social marketers need to understand the potential ramifications of their shares.