Monthly Archives: May 2012

Want a Social-Media Role Model? Maybe You Should Turn to McDonald’s.

Of all the brands that could be looked up to as social-media role models, you certainly wouldn’t expect McDonald’s to be one of them – especially after their recent #McDStories fail.

But maybe their missteps have only served to motivate them to improve. Or, based on a article I just read, maybe their recent embarrassment was more of an exception than the norm.

The article is subtitled The fast-food giant’s director of social media says the brand aims to drive and direct conversation, but not control it.” It begins as follows:

Social media has a universal truth, according to Rick Wion, director of social media for McDonald’s U.S.A. “You don’t control things. You can only hope to steer things in certain directions.”

Great statement. This is a refreshing contrast from the “work-your-network-till-you-get-results” advice I commented on in my last post.

Touching on McDonald’s relationship with bloggers, the article states:

“We want to be transparent in our relationships, and we want our bloggers to be authentic in their opinions,” Wion says. “We don’t want them to hold back if they have an opinion that isn’t totally positive.”

For example, one blogger who’s a fervent fan of the brand said she wasn’t too big on the chain’s new blueberry oatmeal. Wion told her to say so on her blog, because being positive all the time detracts from credibility.

One more notable quote:

“We do a lot of research, a lot of homework, to learn about bloggers who are talking about our brand,” Wion says. “We want to find folks who are talking about us, and we’re not necessarily looking for people who are writing long, glowing blog posts.”

Hats off to Rick Wion. I usually don’t eat at McDonald’s, but now that I read some of Rick’s philosophies on engagement, maybe I’ll grab a cup of McCafé Latte at the drive-through before work tomorrow morning.


1. Try to steer things, but don’t try to control. You’ll fail.

2. Be authentic/transparent, and encourage others who talk about you to be authentic/transparent.

3. Do your homework. Listen. Learn. 


Stop Trying To “Work” Social Media To Get What You Want

Photo by via Flickr

Even though brands have the opportunity to build authentic relationships that encourage loyalty and satisfaction, it’s still very trendy to try using social media as a tool to manipulate. The bad advice from this article f
rom Social Media Today (titled Grow Your Real Estate Business Using Social Media”) is an example of such manipulation. Here’s a quote:

Social media simply makes it easier to reach out to more people but it does not guarantee that these people will buy from you. You still need to work on setting up your social media framework, then work it until you get the results you want.”

I can say with certainty that when it’s time for me to do business with a real estate agent, I hope to find one who’s passionate about more than just “getting the results” she or he wants.

Yes, consumers know that those they do business with need to make a profit to survive and thrive. But consumers also know that it’s much better doing business with brands and individuals who put people first, and who are passionate about their products and services.

The article also (unfortunately) advises:

“Find your ‘sweet spot’ and create an offer your target markets cannot refuse … When you have found the relevant answers, you will need to craft your offer and the corresponding marketing messages around this ‘sweet spot.’”

What this article doesn’t consider is that consumers more often than not can smell your carefully-crafted marketing messages from miles away. It also doesn’t consider that if you think you can offer consumers something they just “can’t refuse,” you’re bound to be disappointed.

Although this wasn’t as true a decade ago as it is today, marketing messages are only effective when a business has excellent products and services, honesty, and genuine passion for what they do. Without these things, marketing messages are just, well… marketing messages.

Excitement, innovation, and excellent products are why brands such as Apple are so beloved. Although Steve Jobs was profits-oriented (who isn’t?), could you imagine what it would have been like for him and his business if he focused on “working” social-media frameworks until he got the results he wanted?

I am sure the day will come when more brands and individuals will start realizing that consumers value passion and good products/services more than they value being “worked.” But, unfortunately, today is not that day.