CID Consulting Today

Social Media can bring down even the Best Companies

Even the biggest companies can fall apart when it comes to Social media. In an attempt to garner positive tweets about its company from fans, McDonald’s created the hashtag #McDStories and asked Twitter users to share their favorite McDonald’s memory. Unfortunately, the hashtag was hijacked and people began using it to highlight their McDonald’s horror stories, shedding a negative light on the popular fast food chain.

McDonald’s is no doubt one of the most powerful brands out there. It is also media savvy when it comes to social networking, but the brand lacked a full understanding of social media attempts and possible risks. To avoid social media failures a brand should always calculate the risks of any social media campaign and decide whether there are ways to mitigate potential negative fallout. It is also important to have a strong contingency or emergency action plan should your campaign start to take a turn for the worse. This will allow your company to quickly take action, cope with potential backlash from projects that don’t turn out as well as hoped and measure the impact, both good and bad, of campaigns on brands you represent.

Creativity: Saving one life at a time

Usually people don’t find the idea of getting killed to be particularly funny. But as one company found out, sometimes the best way to get people to listen to unexciting messages about safety is to use a humorous approach. Australia-based rail service Metro Trains did just that, and reported a 21% reduction in accidents and deaths compared to the same period previously, just three months after a creative campaign was launched. The company racked up 50 million YouTube views in the process by showing train riders that there are many “Dumb Ways to Die” during their travels. The three minute video, uploaded in November 2012, showcases animated kidney-like creatures getting mauled, electrocuted, killed and run over by trains, all the while wearing silly grins on their faces.

Not only was Metro Trains’ message heard, it resonated with viewers who shared the video and told their friends about it so many times that it went viral and became the third most shared ad ever. It also won numerous awards at the Cannes lions International Festival of Creativity and was turned into an iPhone app.

By thinking outside the box, Metro Trains was able to get their message across as well as gain positive global media attention with tangible results.

The Communication and CSR Double Helix

It is integral for firms to capitalize on creating a solid image of Corporate Social Responsibility to act as the company’s unspoken badge of credibility and trust in such times of need. A prime example is Nestlé’s environmental Kit Kat blow. The candy maker was targeted by the international organization Greenpeace, demanding the company to stop using palm oil in its Kit Kat chocolate bars as the oil ingredient was a contributing factor in destroying palm forests, and endangering orangutans in Indonesia.



When Greenpeace received no response from Nestle, it launched an anti-Nestle campaign using Kit Kat’s own slogan against it’ “Give the rainforest a break”. After uploading a YouTube video of a Nestle employee eating orangutan fingers out of a Kit Kat wrapper, the ad attracted over 78 thousand views in just a few hours and generated a huge, negative buzz on Twitter with over 215,000 tweets on the topic.

To avoid Nestlé’s pitfall, businesses are turning to communication professionals, who can devote their efforts to monitoring key social media accounts to make sure firms are aware of what others are saying about their brands. These same professionals are also able to react quickly and efficiently to any harmful posts or complaints with a proven plan of action that highlights the positive aspects of a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility program, and perhaps even turn a negative situation into a positive one with the right messages and responses at the right time.