McDonald’s and Social Media – McRisk and McReward

John2.-  McDonald’s is one of the most well known brands across the globe. Per McDonald’s 2010 Annual Report, the McDonald’s corporation spent $781,500,000 in advertising and marketing expenses with franchiser’s contributing to the this fund as well. McDonald’s significant spend in marketing and advertising continues to keep their brand at the forefront. Part of this marketing picture is and has been Social Media.

McDonald’s entered Social Media in 2006. One of the first Social Media projects was a travel journal for a publicity tour featuring Sarah Ferguson benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities. This early project was lead by Rick Wion, now McDonald’s first Director of Social Media. McDonald’s maintains a variety of Social Media presences, including Facebook, Twitter and an outreach to “mommy bloggers.” (Read more about Mr. Wion’s background and appointment in this Advertising Age article.)

For major brands such as McDonald’s, Social Media offers many potential rewards. Social Media provides the ability to reach out to customers in new and exciting ways, including ways to leverage the brands fans to spread the word. At the same time, Social Media presents risks to major brands as, unlike traditional media, there is much less control over the message. Detractors and critics of the brand can hijack Social Media campaigns and interaction for their own purposes.


McDonald’s has seen rewards from Social Media marketing efforts. McDonald’s reported a 33% increase in foot traffic by participating in the 2010 Foursquare check-in day. McDonald’s used its Facebook page to give an additional boost its popular Monopoly Game promotion, dedicating the Facebook page to game play. McDonald’s also has expanded to the virtual world with restaurant locations in Cityville on Facebook. (Here are 6 ways McDonald’s keeps their fans engaged.)


While McDonald’s has seen the rewards of Social Media, it also has seen the downside of its risks. McDonald’s has been the victim of a Twitter hoax, where the restaurant was falsely accused racism. McDonald’s also had some trouble with its first promoted Twitter campaign. The hash tag #mcdstories was hijacked by critics and activists who used it to complain about the restaurant. Both are examples of how Social Media presences can be used counter to the goals of the organization and how efforts can be hijacked.

In both cases, McDonald’s handled the situations well. For the Twitter hoax, McDonald’s tweeted out messages containing the same keywords as the hoax messages and including the word hoax multiple times in tweets so major news outlets would pick it up. As for the Twitter campaign, McDonald’s saw largely positive response from the #meetthefarmers hash tag and quickly pulled the #McDStories hash tag, where the controversy was centered. While many report the Twitter campaign as a fiasco, Joe Pullizzi makes a good case that it was an overall success.

Social Media, like most business ventures, has the specter of risks and opportunities. As McDonald’s has shown, even a brand that is both loved and criticized can reap benefits from the Social Media space. McDonald’s has also demonstrated that it is critical to keep actively engaged in the Social Media channels. McDonald’s engagement has allowed it to mitigate risks as problems arise.

vía McDonald’s and Social Media – McRisk and McReward. por John2


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