Dealing with a #McDisaster

February 3, 2012

Kate Leonard

Recently, McDonald’s found themselves in a bit of Twitter trouble, when the seemingly harmless hashtag #McDStories was created.  The company started the hashtag in hopes of positive conversation about the brand and to promote the quality of their ingredients, only to find themselves dealing with graphic consumer complaints and criticism. McDonald’s handled this by ultimately […]

Recently, McDonald’s found themselves in a bit of Twitter trouble, when the seemingly harmless hashtag #McDStories was created.  The company started the hashtag in hopes of positive conversation about the brand and to promote the quality of their ingredients, only to find themselves dealing with graphic consumer complaints and criticism.

McDonald’s handled this by ultimately pulling the hashtag.  Rick Wion, McDonald’s social media director said:

“Within an hour, we saw that it wasn’t going as planned.  It was negative enough that we set about a change of course.”

But there is something to be learned from McDonald’s misfortune.  Social media marketing can be guided, but only to a certain extent.  This could have happened to anyone, as social media marketing depends so greatly on consumers, stakeholders and the company.  It is how you respond that will define your company.

While social media marketing can unveil consumer grievances, it also allows for a way to reach individual consumers to solve problems.  With Twitter, McDonalds had the opportunity to reach out to each person who complained using the hashtag.

A great example of using a company Twitter account to resolve consumer complaints is JetBlue airlines, explained in The New York Times article, “How to Fight Back When your Flight is Canceled.”  After suffering from constant flight cancellations, consumers turned to Twitter to express their frustration.  JetBlue offered support through social media and followed-up on specific consumer problems to make sure they were solved.  JetBlue used social media to reform what would have been poor consumer sentiment.