McDonalds Dip Their Toe in Social Media, Have it Cut Off

Last night, McDonalds New Zealand decided to launch a Twitter account via @MaccasNZ. According to their first tweet, the move was to copycat their competitors Burger King and Subway:

“Decided to join @burgerkingNZ & @subwaynz and get Twitter. Follow us for promotions and cool stuff!”

I noticed their account this morning and decided to follow to see how such a major brand would proceed to dip their toe into the Twitterverse. It was like watching a train wreck.

The launch failed on a number of levels:

1) The first tweet basically said they’re only on Twitter because their competitors are. Sorry but the *Me Too* factor is not reason enough to get excited. Neither is “Follow us for cool stuff!” Yawn.

2) Their second tweet was grammatically incorrect: “Wanna win with McDonalds” (missing a question mark). Also, win what? Ok, these are pretty minor issues, but you’d think such a major company would assign somebody with a better grasp of English to represent their brand, wouldn’t you?

3) Their third tweet simply revealed how bored the person manning their Twitter account actually is:

“I think it’s time for McDonalds”

How underwhelming.

4) However, it was their fourth tweet that really scratched FAIL into the golden arches:

“Shakey town Christchurch I think you could do with some McDonald’s #eqnz”

For those of you reading this unfamiliar with the #eqnz hashtag – it stands for Earthquake New Zealand and it was adopted following the 7.1 magnitude earthquake we had last September. As anyone who lives in Christchurch will tell you, we feel a certain ownership of the #eqnz hashtag and do NOT appreciate accounts that use it to spam or promote non-earthquake related content.

After @MaccasNZ included the hashtag in the above tweet, Christchurch-based tweeps became quite vocal about what they saw as blatant abuse of the tag:

@kcolbin tweeted: “@MaccasNZ Please don’t spam the #eqnz hashtag.”

This was followed by retweets by @7point1squared and @WendyDavie.

Then @esoap tweeted: RT @MaccasNZ Shakey town Christchurch I think you could do with some McDonald’s #eqnz * MCD use twitter to spam earthquake thread in NZ

And just like that, New Zealand’s most recognized brand offended their audience. During their first 24 hours on Twitter.

5) Not to be outdone, their 5th tweet reveals they don’t know the difference a possessive and a plural: “Grab one of the McDonald’s dinner box’s tonight”. (Thanks @ThisCJ for pointing out this one!).

Apart from the fact that it has taken the NZ arm of this major brand so long to embrace Twitter, I’m curious as to who they have running their account and whether that person has any solid experience on Twitter. They certainly don’t seem to have twetiquette. Nor do they seem to have a grasp of English grammar.

Somebody just pointed out to me that the account is not verified, so perhaps this isn’t an authentic account. But, if it is (and I’m checking), the brand has gotten off to an awful start. Even if it isn’t verified, this would appear to be a case of brand-jacking that has gone unchecked for more than 24 hours. Neither is a great scenario. McDonalds seem to be having better success with their Facebook account though.

Let this be a lesson – don’t trust just anyone to represent your brand via a Twitter account. It’s not the job for some junior staffer and it’s not the job for your PR department. Marketing staff might be the obvious choice, but you need to find someone who is social, has experience in the medium and has a solid knowledge of your business and target market. Whether that person is internal or external staff doesn’t matter, in my opinion, as long as they’re the right fit.

Meanwhile, it’s fascinating to watch the drama unfold. Dare I say, I’m lovin it.

Postscript 1: The consensus is that this is NOT an official account endorsed or created by McDonalds New Zealand. I’ve tracked down the Twitter accounts for McDonalds marketing and both @McDonaldsCorp and a representative of McDonald’s advertising agency in New Zealand have both denied the account is official and claim to have known nothing about it.

Postscript 2: On their Facebook page, McDonalds New Zealand has publicly responded to my question about @MaccasNZ with the following statement:

“Hi Kalena – nope, that’s not us, but thanks for alerting us – we’re looking into it.”

So there you have it folks. A brand-jacking it was – but instead of satire, the purpose of the @MaccasNZ account appears to have been legitimate promotion that has backfired. Will be interesting to see if they manage to shut it down or replace it with an official account.

Postscript 3: The profile for @MaccasNZ has just been changed from “Official Twitter for McDonalds NZ” to “UN-official Twitter for McDonalds NZ”.  So clearly, some pressure has been applied from Golden Arch HQ.

Postscript 4: Turns out @MaccasNZ *IS* an official account for McDonalds NZ. Two new tweets today reveal the true story behind the account:

“Sorry we got off on the wrong foot. We are a McDonalds franchise acting on behalf of McDonalds New Zealand.”

“Also we are sorry for the mistakes in our tweets, New to twitter and letting certain staff use the account = not a good idea.”

They’ve removed the offending tweet containing the #eqnz hashtag, as well as the one containing the grammatically incorrect apostrophe. The profile for @MaccasNZ has been changed AGAIN to read A twitter for McDonalds to communicate with its followers from New Zealand.

So as I suspected, these were the actions of a well-meaning franchisee who created an official account without official permission and assigned the account to an inexperienced staff member.

Great to see them reveal the true nature of the account and fess up to their social media FAIL. Hooray for transparency and well done McDonalds New Zealand for following up.

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