Last week, McDonald’s embarked on what seemed to be a surefire Twitter hashtag campaign. The fast food leader set out to promote two hashtags: #MeetTheFarmers and #McDstories. The latter asked users across the globe to tweet their favorite memories of the eatery. The vague hashtag created a social media melee.
Twitterers used the hashtag to describe their memories, alright. Effectively turning the hashtag into a bashtag, users described their least appetizing memories, describing hairs in food, food poisoning, animal cruelty – you name it.
Photos courtesy of Business Insider
McDonald’s responded by quickly closing down the hashtag, admitting “#mcdstories did not go as planned,” but the damage was done.
Lessons learned? A vague hashtag, promoted by a brand that people feel strongly about – one way or another – was a one-two punch. McDonald’s was able to recover, but it’s hard to imagine a smaller company recovering as quickly as the global behemoth.