December 11, 2017

What Small Businesses Can Learn from Wendy’s/McDonald’s Twitter Beef

Let’s set the scene. It’s Black Friday. As we browse our Twitter feed we see that Wendy’s is trending. As digital marketers we’re always curious about trends. And there it was. . . right there on Wendy’s Twitter feed. In a big “Oops!” moment, McDonald’s posted a tweet (likely a pre-scheduled post) that hadn’t been fully vetted for content. Wendy’s jumped right on it, throwing some *major* shade right at the major hamburger player:

McDonald’s Tweet:

Wendy’s snarky reTweet:

OUCH! As marketers we were a bit impressed by how quickly Wendy’s leveraged their competitor’s error; but as human beings with feelings we could only imagine how bad McDonald’s social media marketing folks must have felt. And if we’re being honest, we could totally relate. Why?

Because we’ve prematurely pressed send ourselves once or twice! DOH!

So what can small businesses learn from this?

Mistakes happen

It’s a fact of life. What’s equally important is how you address those mistakes.

There were lots of different responses on Twitter, but some that stood out were from those requesting that McDonald’s please forgive the person who screwed up. The internet came together in a moment, remembering through the laughter that we’re all human, after all. Many were actually impressed and gave kudos!

Your audience doesn’t expect you to be perfect. When you do mess up on social, own it and correct it in a way that matches your brand’s message. This leads us to….

The Way You Respond To Negative Social Media is Important

McDonald’s didn’t immediately delete the post. Instead, in all of the hullabaloo, they came up with this brilliant response:

In a nutshell, McDonald’s embraced the error and poked a bit of fun at themselves. That goes along with their brand. If you browse their feed, you’ll see the same strategy from them in other posts. Consistency is key!

For every single post you put up on your social feeds, you must be true to your brand’s voice. That’s what will keep your followers engaged with your message. So never forget…

Do YOU! 

Who are you? As a brand, McDonald’s always takes the high road. If you look at Wendy’s, they tend to be on the funny/snarky side. The best thing you can do is to figure out who you are and stay in your lane. Not everyone is going to like it and that’s okay.


If you’re gonna do social, you’ve gotta do it and you’ve gotta own what you do.

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