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McDonald's Twitter Failure – What We Can Learn

January 24th, 2012
By: Becky Lang

Picture 27 500x284 McDonald's Twitter Failure   What We Can Learn

I got one of my first promoted tweets the other day. A tweet from McDonald’s was at the top of my feed, leading me to a video about one farmer who raises the cattle for their beef.

Let’s just say I was not exactly sold.

Turns out that McDonald’s attempt to share authentic farmer stories using the hashtag #McDstories quickly evolved into a bunch of Twitter users sharing McDonald’s horror stories. What started as interruptive messaging to promote McDonald’s integrity quickly turned into a way for negative reviews to go viral.

I think that this might have gone wrong for a couple reasons.

1. McDonald’s looked like an older brand trying to “talk to young people, on their level.” Their tweets replaced “you” with “u” and were full of hashtags and links, instead of more singular, simple messages.

2. It was just too much of a stretch for people to believe that suddenly McDonald’s meat comes from heartfelt, ethically conscious farmers. Don’t get me wrong. It’s great that McDonald’s is trying to jump on the bandwagon of being more wholesome, and caring about the stories of the people who provide their product. A lot of brands are. But every customer knows that for McDonald’s, this would be a major overhaul, which clearly hasn’t happened.

That’s why transparency is important. Large brands are actually improving the way they do things, and slowly suiting them to meet customer demands. But it is a slow process, and they need to be honest about that. Messaging that expects customers to believe that your food suddenly comes from wholesome farmers just begs for skepticism and backlash.

Instead, McDonald’s should present any mission to get back in touch with farmers as just that – a mission. When you’re honest about the fact that you’re only a couple steps in, customers are a lot less likely to torch your reputation.

As for promoted tweets, I expect I’ll have to get used to them.

-Becky Lang