McDonald’s exec: ‘You don’t control’ social media

The fast-food giant’s director of social media explains the company’s Twitter strategy (including its #MeetTheFarmers hashtag incident) and approach to blogger outreach.

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“You don’t control things. You can only hope to steer things in certain directions.”

Over the past few years, McDonald’s has aptly maneuvered the social-media steering wheel. Despite a wrong turn here and there, its video campaigns, hashtags, and blogger outreach have paid off.

A misstep, in perspective

That wrong turn—in which the promoted hashtag #McDStories led to some unwelcome comments about McDonald’s experiences and some plain old trash talk—wasn’t as bad as some reports made it out to be, Wion points out.

The hashtag was part of a campaign to showcase the company’s food suppliers. Initially, the campaign used the hashtag #MeetTheFarmers, but it switched midstream to #McDStories.

“By doing so, we’re actually able to get more traction out of the ad buy,” Wion says. “It’s almost kind of like a two-for-one.”

Soon after the changeover, “the conversation started to change,” Wion says. The brand saw about 2,000 mostly negative comments in about two hours.

“There are a lot of people who are trying to make a name for themselves by trying to be funny on Twitter,” he says.

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