“You don’t control things. You can only hope to steer things in certain directions.”
I love to read things like this, especially from very large companies where you don’t expect such social media enlightenment. But, indeed, McDonald’s completely gets social media. The article refers to a Twitter hashtag campaign wherein McDonald’s dealt with some harsh blowback and nasty commentary. It had nothing to do with what they were trying to do and they deftly switched to an different hashtag that was more exemplary of the campaign, highlighting the farmers who grow the raw materials that go into McDonald’s meals. This is really smart social media because of two things. First of all, McDonald’s was listening during the campaign. Companies love to talk but they usually don’t listen so well. Second, at the first sign of trouble, they did not panic. They identified the problem, came up with a good solution and implemented it. Everything turned around in a matter of hours. Social media is not so predictable and often times people will do things with your campaign you don’t expect. You have to be ready for anything and be able to act quickly.
The second brilliant thing McDonald’s did in this “Meet The Farmers” campaign is produce videos of several farmers who produce potatoes, lettuce, ect for McDonalds. These videos are beautifully shot but more important they tell a story. Ninety-Five percent of the video doesn’t have anything to do with McDonald’s, it’s about the farmer and their life story. It is hard for me to put into words how great these videos are, you need to watch them for yourself. Telling a great story is a big part of being successful in social media.
Coming back to the issue of control, I often think of social media marketing like martial arts. In martial arts, you have more success if you don’t push and force all the time. A better strategy is to be more in tune with the energy and move with it. You cannot control the energy in a martial arts fight, but you can use it to your advantage. In social media, you need to learn not to force the message but to use the messaging energy that is already there to your advantage.