In today’s social media scene, everyone has a voice. Any regular Joe’s tweet can go viral and create a trending topic. That’s why the majority of social media in the 100,000+ fans range need to be all ears all the time. This is, unfortunately, something businesses failed and still fail to learn. Social Media needs to be a personal engagement. Traditional media is one-way advertising, where the more people listen, the more you have to say. It’s in fact, the exact opposite in social media; people don’t listen, they talk… and the more people talk, the more you have to listen.

One thing that people have to realize is, social media is serious business. Too  many corporations try to take it and make it something that it isn’t. This is shown in McDonalds most recent social media escapade: #MeetTheFarmers. Trying to force social media like this usually has no results, and if McDonnalds got lucky it would have been so. But, not everyone on the internet is full of positive comments and a fun loving spirit. The #MeetTheFarmers campaign quickly turned into #McDstories and #McDhorrorstories. So instead of people talking about how the farmers who grow the crops are vital to the economy, the internet was talking about how they saw a cockroach last time they went to get a McGriddle.

As a social media consultant, I would have heavily recommended not trying to force a trending topic like they did, because it can easily spin out of control. Instead, they should have responded to questions and comments by messaging them with a positive tone, with the #MeetTheFarmers tweet occasionally in the background. If they did that, while throwing in some giveaways and coupons, they would have more followers, a more positive image, and have one less social media calamity they will be trying to clean up for months.

Sam Fletcher for