We all know big brands like McDonald’s have big budgets for marketing, so it’s not necessarily a surprise that they know what they’re doing when it comes to social media. But since there’s so many negative social media brand experiences out there, I wanted to share a recent positive experience I had with the golden arches.
Last week on one particularly early morning, I stopped by a McDonald’s for a little caffeinated rejuvenation. Even though I normally prefer indie coffee shops or home-brewed, Ronald’s home still tops Dunkin or even the iconic Starbucks among the main “fast” coffees. When I happened to include this particular nugget of information to my Twitter followers, I wasn’t looking for anything other than to amuse and stir the (coffee) pot among my coffee-loving friends. But to my surprise, one of my next incoming tweets was not only about coffee, but was McD’s giving me a free coffee!
This week, I received my free coffee voucher along with a nice handwritten note. As one of my Facebook friends commented when I posted the photo, I did exactly what they wanted me to do: I shared the brand with my Twitter followers and Facebook friends, and now I’m sharing it here with my blog readers. Of course when I was sharing, I already knew the game of give-and-take when it comes to social consumers and brands — after all, it’s my job. But the main reason I wanted to share this experience is because it’s a good example of how to engage with loyal consumers.
By now you’re thinking to yourself, “Cool, you got a free coffee from McDonald’s because you tweeted about it. We get it. So what?” But there’s much more to this experience than what meets the eye. Here’s a few “lessons learned” for brands:
- Don’t be afraid to be spontaneous: Reaching out to consumers outside of a specific campaign not only seems candid and natural rather than scripted, but promotes general good will of the brand year-long. These “evergreen” moments can sometimes even influence future campaigns.
- Make that first social touch point a positive experience: I had never tweeted with McDonald’s before, and regardless if Dana knew that or not, she was sure to make that first experience a good one.
- Turn positive online experiences into positive real experiences: Sure, the free coffee voucher is nice and I definitely plan on using it soon. But what really impressed me was the handwritten note with Dana’s Twitter handle. It’s a nice touch and much more personal than a typed note.
- Jump into playful rivalries: Once the “coffee wars” conversation started taking off, I was surprised that McDonald’s was the only brand to engage with me and my followers. Not a peep was heard from Starbucks or Dunkin. That made me wonder, are they even listening? At this point, that’s Big Brand Social Media 101. The conversation was certainly laid-back enough that they could have jumped in and tried to up the ante by promoting a specialized brew or product while the conversation was live.
- There’s always room for improvement: As with anything, there’s always room for improvement. Judging from my “confession,” McDonald’s already knew they had my loyalty. But what about my skeptical friends? If they wanted to really extend their reach, McD’s could have given me a few extra coffee vouchers to try to convince my friends too.