Social Enterprise

Four Social Media IT rules to live by

The majority of big companies don't have a social media department or employee designated just to deal with social media. That means the buck stops with you. Here's how to come up with a plan in case of social media disaster.

In January, McDonald's found itself between two patties and, well, a pretty nasty social media hard place. It was because of one hashtag. And IT should and could learn a lot from what happened in that particular social media debacle.

In promoted tweets beginning January 18, McDonalds began including the hashtag #McDStories.

Bad idea.

McDonald's thought people would share heartwarming stories of hot coffee and Happy Meals with the kids, perhaps. But the Twitterverse reacted with boatloads of funny to disgusting remarks -- all hash tagged with #McDStories. This was not looking good.

At most companies IT is still responsible for social media. McDonald's, though, had a social media-focused executive who watched the campaign and reacted quickly.

McDonalds social chief Rick Wion removed the hashtags within two hours. That quick reaction got the +McDStories smart-aleck tweets down to a trickle within some hours, too.

Infographic courtesy: The United States Air Force

The following are four easy rules IT should follow to avoid such social disasters. They're best practice -- and easy to implement.

1. React quickly, as McDonald's did. Make sure you are monitoring all social media outlets - or that you know someone who is.

2. Put a Best Practice Online Social Media Engagement IT Strategy in place.

Take a cue from the U.S. Airforce. Check out their flowchart for online reaction below.

3. Zoetica consultant Kami Huyse suggests that IT install an enterprise-targeted social media management and viewing tool called Knowem. Certainly, that's just one of several excellent reputation management tools out there. Here's a screenshot of the one Huyse recommends.

4. Check out CREWE. This is a loosely knit group of Wikipedia editors who try to help resolve Wikipedia arguments and flames. CREWE, which stands for Corporate Representatives for Ethical Wikipedia Engagement, maintains an open document on Facebook where people can log their issues.

It provides Wikipedia conflict of interest guidelines, a list of best practices for editors with conflicts of interest, and lists controversial issues you need to be aware of before editing a Wikipedia entry. Help specifically for paid editors: Other CREWE collected resources include:

  1. Request an edit:
  2. Request arbitration:

DISCLOSURE: Journalist Gina Smith and the consultant quoted, Kami Huyse, serve together on a non-profit board intended to help curb hate speech online. That is -- its board is Kami Huyse, Jim Clark, Kami Huyse, Jimmy Wales and Andrea Weckerle.


Gina Smith is a NYT best-selling author of iWOZ, the biography of Steve Wozniak. She is a vet tech journalist and chief of the geek tech site,


Eso se llama una r??pida retroalimentaci??n para evitar caer en el inicio de un descenso en ventas, MARKETING AL 100... EXITOS para Gina Smith y para todos los amigos de Tech Republic


I think Ms. Smith intended to say that McDonald's pulled back on the promotion that included tweets with the hash tag #McDStories, not that they actually removed the hash tags from Twitter. As other posters have said, I don't think that's possible. The negative tweets were coming from people in response to the promotional tweets, so the negative tweets stopped when the promotional tweets stopped. Anyway, don't let the ambiguous wording detract from the article. Good chart and good tips!


The airforce flowchart is definitely one companies involved in social media should emulate. Even users who use social media and discussion forums in general to vent, whine, and start flammage should have the flowchart handy. :)


How exactly does a member of your team trusted with monitoring and responding to issues like the #McDStories hashtag respond to "quickly remove" the offending hash-tags? Isn't one of the keys to why Twitter was so instrumental in social uprisings because it is so hard to shut down massive amounts of people responding to a trending topic? I could post all day with any hashtag I want and wouldn't McDonald's be powerless to stop that? This is like celebrities that have dopplegangers running around the Twitterverse posing as them. Do I follow @GaryBusey or @TheRealGaryBusey? Obviously Twitter has responded by allowing verified celebrity accounts - but many Twitter users seem unaware that there is a difference between their favorite verified account and an unverified fake - and I don't see that Twitter has any meaningful method of removing the fake account unless they've got a pattern of violation of the ToS. It is an interesting article - but I've been playing with Social Media for several years now and I still don't understand all the nuances of managing it correctly. I'm interested in information that provides instructions on how to actually manage my social media presence in a situation like that. My understanding has always been that it is very hard for a company to shut down negative media on social networking sites and that being too heavy handed in trying to do so is likely to backfire. I'd be very interested in more details on how the McD executive handled this situation.


I don't do squat with social media but didn't understand how a hashtag could be 'removed'. Can't anyone use that string of characters? This story describes more examples of why I still have no active use for social media.

Editor's Picks