How McDonald’s created a social media success with questions campaign
Earlier this year McDonald’s got something of a social media trashing with its US #McDStories campaign. You could have seen that one coming.
The fast food giant is an easy target and Twitter was given free rein to use the burger chain as a punch bag, bug it wasn’t scared away.
Lessons have obviously been learnt and a current social media effort by the fast food giant, originated by McDonald’s in Canada, is proving to be some thing of a hit.
The ‘Our food. Your Questions‘ campaign is perfectly simple and well executed. It also does something very different to what McDonald’s to #McDStories by removing elements of risk that can be present with just about social media activity.
The campaign allows Canadians to ask any question they like about McDonald’s food on a specially created website. And consumers in Canada have not been holding back.
Canadians are asking questions on subjects ranging from: where McDonald’s gets its beef; to the ingredients it uses in its food; the unhealthy nature of some of its food; whether it adds extra drugs to its food; and why doesn’t it appear to ever rot?
Most of these questions are simply answered in writing on its website with speedy replies posted within two days.
However, what it has also been doing is creating a number of YouTube video answers as well. So far it has created seven and these have racked up almost 10 million views on YouTube.
That is unearned media without any promotional budget that are being watched not just by Canadians, but by Americans and many others elsewhere.
One video alone, ‘Behind the scenes at a McDonald’s photo shoot’ has 6.9 million views. Another, featuring McDonald’s executive chef Dan Coudreaut, ”What is in the sauce that is in the Big Mac?” (see below), which styled as a guide to making your own in a TV cooking show format has almost two million.
The videos are a nice touch, but clearly what is key here is how McDonald’s built this campaign from the ground up.
It didn’t use Twitter or Facebook, clearly fearing a loss of control and that it could find itself on the end of an enormous kicking, but instead created its own fairly simple platform.
Rather than ceding all the control to users McDonald’s has retained it, but it has still managed to get a mass of people asking questions, visiting the site and watching the videos. For an open ended campaign like ‘Our Food. Your Questions’ this has proved a really successful model.
The videos provide it with a good rebuttal to the many that campaigners and others have produced over the years about its food, such a the the ‘McDonald’s four year old cheeseburger’ or Morgan Sprulock on why its fries don’t rot to name just two.
It has also been very thorough and drafted in external experts where needed (in a here comes the science part kind of way) as part of the campaign as well as in-house staff.
Karin Campbell, senior manager of external communications at McDonald’s Canada, said: “We certainly could see pervasive myths out there, so we decided to take on those myths head-on and just clarify some of the info by developing a platform.”
It is a campaign that McDonald’s could easily roll out and it doesn’t even need to make different videos. It can use the collateral that it has already created and simply add to it.
YouTube videos that play well in Canada and the US, like those mentioned above, would also play well in other English speaking markets like the UK and Australia as social media doesn’t really have a great many borders.
The only thing McDonald’s might have done differently is open up the comments on the YouTube videos.
Sure it was going to take some flak, but it you have to be prepared for that and balance it out with the wider success that this campaign has clearly achieved.