Since June 2010, companies have been able to pay for promoted trending topics on Twitter (which are then displayed on the social media site along with the rest of the trending topics). For a large corporation, purchasing a trending topic can be a double-edged sword, since brand awareness is so high many are likely to contribute, yet a significant proportion of those contributions could be less than stellar. The latest example of this is #McDStories from McDonald’s, which generated a plethora of horror-story tweets about the restaurant, from both customers and former employees.
Social media analyst Chris Turner wrote a very interesting article about the “hijacked” hashtag that can be read here. Chris writes about the unpredictability of social media and how it oftentimes shies certain companies away from getting too involved. He believes McDonald’s “didn’t frame the conversation tightly enough” in this case, by using a very open-ended hashtag that could invite input from all directions. I think while in this situation the strategy didn’t pan out as hoped, you have to hand it to McDonald’s for experimenting in social media this way. The story also demonstrates how crucial it is for companies to have a sense of humour, or at least not to take themselves too seriously in the Internet era.