Social media can be a great marketing tool when things go right. It can also be a nightmare when things go wrong. A recent article looks at McDonalds; yes, we’re talking about the famous golden arches, which experienced the highs and lows of social media marketing, all in the one campaign. One of the most difficult areas to manage when it comes to social media is that of control. In most cases, businesses have little control once a campaign starts to move, and once your marketing campaign goes viral, then you have lost all control.
Of course, if you’re fortunate enough to have a positive viral outcome, control is not really an issue. You can sit back and harvest the results of that viral marketing campaign. It’s when that viral campaign is negative that problems really set in. Trying to wrest control back is almost impossible, leaving business owners with a reputation management problem that requires a lot of effort to repair.
For Mcdonalds, they spent money buying Twitter hashtags. There’s no problem there, and their first campaign, using #MeetTheFarmers as the hashtag worked reasonably well. A cynical reader may well surmise that its success related more to the fact that readers didn’t relate that hashtag to McDonalds. MeetTheFarmers is the kind of hashtag that doesn’t really invoke many emotions. Where McDonalds went wrong is when they changed their hashtag to #McDStories.
Everyone has a story about McDonalds, and we’re talking about bad stories, not good. That hashtag immediately hooked into people’s emotions and it opened the floodgates. Every bad story about McDonalds steadily flowed through Twitter. About the only upside to this result was the humor that many found in these tweeted stories. The other upside is that others, like us here today, are talking about how McDonalds lost control of a social media marketing campaign. That, of course, is from an optimist who tries to find a positive in everything.
The lesson for small business owners is simple. Watch what you write, and watch how you use hashtags. McDonalds does have a poor reputation amongst some sections of the community, so a hashtag like #McDStories was bound to have a negative effect. If you do lose control, you will need to work hard to either reduce the damage or to turn it around to make it a positive.