McDonald’s Twitter promotion recently capsized, thanks to users’ overlooked creativity, highlighting the pitfalls of social media advertising as business usage of it burgeons.
The fast food company meant to share supplier stories in a #MeetTheFarmers campaign, but users hijacked the related #McDStories hashtag and upset the entire promotion.
For example, @flatfootphil’s story about the Golden Arches was less than savory. “McDStories…a nice juicy Filet o’fish. With added worm. Still alive. Nice. Never again,” he wrote.
@MuzzaFuzza added, “I haven’t been to McDonalds in years, because I’d rather eat my own diarrhea.”
“McDStories: McDialysis? I’m loving it!” enthused another Twitter user.
Comments in this vein resulted in #McDStories’ demise only two hours after its creation.
But McDonald’s is not the only organization to endure online bashing during an advertising campaign, as social media promotions are quickly proving to be a double-edged sword.
For instance, Australia’s Qantas airlines took an online beating after inviting Twitter users to describe their “dream luxury in-flight experience.” This campaign went awry as angry customers fantasized about a company that gave “more than 3mins notice that the whole airline is on strike.”
Kenneth Cole also felt the heat after marketing its products during the Arab Spring. “Millions in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available,” the company wrote last February, provoking outrage at the comparison.
Non-profit organizations have experienced similar issues during their online campaigns. @LGBTfacts, for example, began as an online resource for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. But it quickly devolved into a stream of offensive remarks as users offered up their own LGBT “facts.”
Mike Stuchbery, for example, proclaimed, “When cornered, the male homosexual can shoot glitter into the eyes of an attacker to blind them.”
Social media advertising has taken off over the last years, prompting many corporations and organizations to plug in for greater brand recognition. It is now a multimillion-dollar enterprise and shows no signs of slowing down.
But comments like Stuchbery’s suggest online crowdsourced promotions may not always help companies and organizations seeking to get an Internet boost. In fact, if they are not careful about social media advertising, corporations may quickly become laughing stocks in the online world, unless they manage their real-world reputations first.