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McDonald's Hashtag Screw-Up

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When McDonald’s (MCD) launched their #McDStories twitter campaign, they expected heartwarming stories of family trips to the local Burger Shack and first dates over Big Macs. Instead, they got a bunch like this, from Twitter user Jigga Johnson: “The trick is to burn off your taste buds with hellishly hot apple pie before you dive into a McDs meal. That’s what the pros do.”

Early this morning, the Daily Telegraph reported on the epic failure of McDonald’s most recent Twitter campaign. Originally, the idea was to highlight the McDonald’s farmers with the #MeettheFarmers tag, which only has one tweet. It informs readers that “a lot of love and passion goes into producing the beef for our burgers.”

The company quickly moved on to the now infamous #McDStories tag, and posted two tweets under it. These fall under about the same lines as #MeettheFarmers: a lot of self-praise and pabulum about the love that goes into a Mickey D’s burger.

Then Twitter took over. Users immediately began posting McD Stories like Pretty Tallerr’s “my brother found a fake finger nail in his French fries.” Since media outlets began reporting on the issue today, users all over the world have jumped to bashing the company.

Posts range from run of the mill fast food horror stories, from user Ariel Day “I ordered a Big Mac & the bun was soggy & the meat wasn’t warm,” to self-righteous anti-meat protests and purported inside info on company practices. The news of the hashtag’s fail is itself getting a lot of play on Twitter, further spreading McDonald’s embarrassment.

One user does a nice job of summing up the general sentiment: “The only surprising thing about the #McDStories #fail was that they didn’t see it coming.”

Then again, no publicity is bad publicity.

Of course, social media is notoriously fickle and hard to control, and McDonald’s only major mistake seems to have been their assumption that the Internet wouldn’t be mean. Just look at what happened when the Obama administration tried Tweeting.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.