McDonald’s Twitter campaign backfires with popular hashtag

Our look at the most — and least engaging social media 

National brands should try to remember that social network campaigns take away their ability to control the message. McDonald’s learned this lesson the hard way in early February with its Twitter campaign that emphasized and promoted the company’s policy of buying fresh produce from farmers. Two hashtags were used: #MeetTheFarmers and #McDStories. As it turned out, the #McDStories hashtag became quite popular, with Twitter users employing the hashtag to tell stories of alleged food poisoning, heroin use, obesity and a “sensory experience of inhaling deeply from a freshly opened can of dog food.”

One user tweeted: “Eating a quarter pounder value meal makes me feel exactly the same as an hour of violent weeping.” How could McDonald’s PR team even begin to craft a response to that? The campaign fails to satisfy, but it provides a valuable lesson for marketers looking to create that social buzz.

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