Focus on the customer, not your brand

January 27, 2012

Many businesses make a critical mistake when reaching out to their audiences using social media: They focus too much on their own brands and not enough on their customers. Granting customers the freedom to tell you how they relate to your brand, rather than pushing them to say how great it is, is a subtler and often a more effective way to encourage people to connect.

McDonald’s may have learned this lesson the hard way this week. Have you followed the backlash against the company on Twitter? Its #McDStories hashtag didn’t generate tweets about fond memories from customers; it motivated a lot of users to post negative experiences that quickly crowded out positive feedback.

Give McDonald’s credit for trying again on the heels of a social media failure. The company stopped using the original hashtag within hours and introduced a new one shortly thereafter. The #littlethings hashtag encourages users to share small moments in their lives that bring joy, not just experiences about McDonald’s. The replacement hashtag appears to be effective, so far, and it isn’t generating much of the antagonism and ugliness that its predecessor provoked.

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