Social media has changed the way companies do business online because it allows brands to establish personal relationships with customers, leverage social pressure to affect purchasing decisions and target advertising with the wealth of information users provide about themselves. While these changes can have positive effects on business brand recognition and sales, social media — especially if improperly used — can also have a series of negative consequences for brands.
In 2012, the Big Mac has come under attack, after McDonald’s became the subject of an outburst of vitriolic hatred on Twitter when critics hijacked a promotional hash-tag created by the fast-food giant.
McDonald’s kicked things off with the hashtag #MeetTheFarmers, in a campaign meant to draw attention to the brand’s guarantee of fresh produce.However, the burger company used a dangerously vague hashtag: “When u make something w/ pride, people can taste it,” McD potato supplier #McDstories
And people began adding in their #McDstories on Twitter, with most of those tweets recounting negative experiences at McDonald’s such as food poisoning, food origin horror stories, and various reasons as to why their fast food experience at McDonald’s were not positive. Apparently the promoted tweet had been up for two hours before it was pulled due to the negative feedback from users. The problem with the use of the #McDstories hashtag as we see it, is that McDonald’s did not see the potential problems with inviting an open-ended conversation on Twitter where the brand loyalty is not as strong as it is on their Facebook fan page.
Brand affinity needs to be examined on various social networks first, with an in-depth review of the mentions, tweets, and negative/positive stories regarding the brand using social analytic programs. On Facebook, the brand affinity is much stronger because in order to be a fan of McDonald’s, you have to “like” the brand on Facebook. There is no such thing on Twitter other than “follow” to indicate a brand affinity. It is easier to invite comments for feedback on social networks like Facebook and Google +, where the brand affinity is stronger.
The hashtag #McDstories accounted for 2% of the overall mentions of McDonald’s on that day, but that hashtag had a huge negative impact in traditional media stories about the Twitter campaign used by McDonald’s. The company certainly learned a lesson from their hashtag the hard way. With that said, in undertaking a social media outreach effort like this, there is always the risk that the conversation can be co-opted and negatively impacted. Doing due diligence before such social media efforts can mitigate that risk.
Check the brand affinity on social networks through the use of social analytic programs such as Radian6, Actionly, Unilyzer, and other available programs before launching a planned social media campaign. Structure social media campaigns differently across social networks, and use a feedback based open-ended social media campaign on social networks where brand affinity is the strongest. Always ask yourself the question, “How would this impact my brand? Would this be a campaign that has a positive ROE (return on engagement) or a negative ROE?” Being proactive in this manner and being immediately reactive goes a long way in effectively managing the brand’s online reputation.
So a successful campaign does not guarantees the brand’s success. If the campaign is planned and managed properly, yes it can lead to the success of the brand. However, if a campaign is launched without doing any due- diligence, the success of the campaign many impact the brand negatively.