It’s been a rough couple of months—which is like 5 years in social media time—for McDonald’s in the social space. (Warning, I’m gonna get historical here, so if you just want to know why McDonald’s keeps getting killed on Twitter, skip to the end.)
Buying bloggers to bullshit
It began in the late fall with All Access Moms, a painfully disingenuous microsite, blog, commercial & social campaign that asserted the genuine wholesome goodness of McD’s fare, based on the (apparently dubious) fact that it contains potatoes.
And once you wade past the polydimethylsiloxane (a component of Silly Putty™!) and such, there are no doubt potato ingredients. So not a lie.
But it’s a pretty big stretch to say they’re “great food for your family”, and therein lies the crux of McDonald’s social media problem: people don’t buy bullshit messages anymore.
Further, we’re all capable of spotting mommy blogger pandering. Any campaign with “mom” in the title drives me nuts automatically, but the pretense that we’re going to get an unbiased evaluation of a product from a campaign launched by that product is, you know, transparently untransparent.
A bashtag so bad, it coined the word “bashtag”
In January, McDonald’s moved away from the #MeetTheFarmers hashtag associated with All Access Moms & paid to promote #McDStories, to which fond fans were supposed to attach their misty McDonald’s memories. They didn’t.
Look over there!
The day after the onslaught, McDonald’s promoted #LittleThings, perhaps equally vague & suggestive, but at least differently vague & suggestive.
#LittleThings happened to be already being used by Hilton, but at least wasn’t hated on quite as badly.
McDonald’s then quieted down and spent some time on Pinterest following people, which is just a remarkable piece of social media strategy by comparison.
Pushing the Shamrock Shake for St. Patrick’s Day, McDonald’s is once again suffering Twitter mockery over #Shamrocking, a sponsored tag that is 1 part totally awkward and 1 part completely mortifying.
Adhering to the same “go viral” checklist they used in All Access Moms, McDonald’s sought to create a tebow-like planking-esque “do this in a photo” meme.
Ad pundits were poised for a pending porn-tinged fail, but then Mashable seemed to swoop in and clarify things.
Why the hate?
So why does McDonald’s keep stepping in a big steaming pile of social backlash?
It’s the heavy-handed attempt to dictate the message; it’s saying your product is what it isn’t, it’s clumsily not checking who’s using a hashtag or coining a dirty phrase, it’s obviously buying bloggers for their “influence” and creating “memes” for their “virality”.
These are all things the mighty-vocal marketing constituents of the Twitterverse just loathe & can see through easily. It’s a very old kind of marketing being applied to the wrong platform.
Twitter is too snarky, too sharky. McDonalds should play in the safer waters of their Facebook page, where people have already given permission to be marketed to by professing their likefulness.