By now you may have already heard about the McDonald's Twitter Marketing debacle. If you didn't here's a summation: McDonalds marketing thought they would create an interesting Twitter hastag to prompt users to share their experiences eating in McDonald's restaurants.
The hashtag was #McDStories. Unfortunately for them, within a matter of hours stories were popping up (in abundance) about horrible service, ingredients some felt were less than appetizing and just about every negative thing you could possibly attribute to a McDonald's restaurant.
What I find interesting about the experience is the way many people (in fact every article I read) seems to think the problem had something to do with hastags, Twitter or social media marketing. Instead, they should have looked at the idea, because that's where the problem can be found. It is the height of hubris to think that every one of your customers has had an awesome experience with your brand. You simply cannot please all the people, all the time.
In the case of McDonald's, they have been in business for decades, which is long enough to gather at least a few detractors; previous marketing blunders have left the company open to renewed ridicule, and their menu is constantly being derided for displaying things which some people find, well, disgusting. Did the marketing team really believe only positive comments would come in? Are they that foolish and naive?
I was a restaurant manager for 10 years. There is an adage in the industry which goes, "A customer who has a good experience in your restaurant might tell one other person. A customer who has a bad experience in your restaurant will tell no fewer than 10 people."
It is as true today in the Digital Age as it was in the 20th century.
The fact the McDonald's marketing team didn't understand this is a sign of their inexperience with the product/service they are trying to market. The problem does not lie with hastags, Twitter or social media in general because those are just tools we use to accomplish a task.
The problem then sits squarely on the shoulders of the marketers and their flawed plan.