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With #McDstories, McDonald’s Learns the Meaning of ‘epic Fail’ – Then Tries Again with #LittleThings

Posted on the 26 January 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost

With #McDstories, McDonald’s learns the meaning of ‘epic fail’ – then tries again with #LittleThings

Thanks for the #McDstories... Photo credit: David Schott,

Cyberspace can be a cold, cruel place, as fast food giant McDonald’s learned on last week when its #McDstories Twitter campaign went horrifically wrong.

McDonald’s paid for the hashtag #McDStories to be promoted on the Twitter homepage, in the hopes that it would encourage tweeters to share their touching memories of good times spent under the Golden Arches. What followed instead was a impressive torrent of vitriol: Users claiming McDonald’s food sent them to the hospital with food poisoning, that their food was “nasty”, that they’d found all manner of foreign objects in McDonald’s food (fingernails, notably), that McDonald’s was cruel to animals. “McDialysis? I’m lovin’ it!” gleefully tweeted one person. Then there were the stories of terrible things happening at McDonald’s, such as the grill cook who urinated on himself because he was not allowed to take a bathroom break.

McDonald’s social media director admitted to that response to the campaign had become “negative enough” to warrant “a change of course” – which it did within about two hours of the promoted tweet, though media outlets gleefully reported on McDonald’s epic #McFail.

And barely a day later, McDonald’s was back at it, this time trying a more subtle approach: Promoting the hashtag #LittleThings, the burger peddler asked, “What #LittleThings bring you joy?” So far, the campaign doesn’t appear to have flung itself off the rails in quite the spectacular fashion #McDstories did, but neither it is gaining the traction the company may have wanted. A sampling of #LittleThings tweets reveals that one that thing brings people joy is avoiding McDonalds:

“Q What are some of the #LittleThings that bring you joy? A Not going to McDonalds” -SimonAccountant Simon Young

“The @McDonalds epic fail #McDStories campaign has them quickly covering up with ‘What #LIttleThings bring you joy?’ A: Their catastrophes” – eglinski Don Eglinski

“#LittleThings that are doomed to fail – launching another hashtag campaign after a social media fiasco #McDStories” – skinnyminnies Linda Xu

There’s more: “Finally realizing that Mcdonald’s food is quite disgusting”; “lack of customer service”; “That sick feeling you get having eaten a Big Mc meal”; “getting my children started early on morbid obesity – bringing them to McDonald’s”. Some users are already pairing the #LittleThings hashtag with #SameMistakeTwice. Others are using the #LittleThings hashtag to highlight things that irritate them, both about McDonald’s and about life. And then there’s also the fact that @DoubleTree, the Hilton hotel chain, is already using #LittleThings (Periscope’s @DoubleTree-related #LittleThing: Those cookies they offer on check-in – amazing).

So, #McFail again?

#SameMistakeTwice. McDonald’s has been timid about engaging fully in social media – possibly out of fear of epic failure – but its efforts as of late have been real disasters, declared Frederic Lardinois at “What’s even more astonishing is that the company’s social media team doesn’t seem to be learning from its earlier mistakes,” he said, pointing out too that the hashtag was already in use by Double Tree. “It’s hard to say what McDonald’s should have done differently, but it’s its best solution right now is probably to lay low for a while and just let this latest storm pass.”

Bashtag: The new term Kashmir Hill at Forbes coined, describing the what happens when your hashtag works against you.

#TooVague. The biggest problem with McDonald’s campaign was that it was too open-ended, claimed Stefan Meeuws at – anyone could and did attach whatever meaning they wanted to #McDstories. Meeuws highlighted three things to learn from McDonald’s McMistake: McDonald’s should have asked its 13 million Facebook fans for stories about how much they love the fast food chain, not the whole Twitterverse; they should have been more specific, and, say, start a hashtag about Happy Meals toys; and third, they should have avoided any hashtag that could be used “ironically”.

#BigDeal. In the grand scheme of things, McDonald’s epic fail probably wasn’t. This Twitter campaign likely impacted McDonald’s sales not a whit and already, the Twitterverse is moving on, said Kim Bhasin at “It just goes to show that social media can go wrong in an instant, but when the mistake isn’t all that serious, people are quick to forget — or at least laugh it off.”

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