Social media has taken the world by storm, and there's no chance of it slowing down. Eighty one percent of Americans maintain some form of a social media profile. Getting a "follow" request provides instant gratification, and being able to follow your favorite brands and eateries is much the same. What clever quip will IHOP come out with today?
But, for every "thumbs up" on social media there is a "thumbs down." Just take a look at what has happened with United Airlines. After suffering a PR nightmare, Twitter users have begun to use United's messages to target the company's list of wrongs. After Pepsi's tone deaf commercial had aired, social media fanatics began doctoring photos of historical figures holding Pepsi cans. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter tweeted, "If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi."
But then, there are some instances when a seemingly harmful social media snafu, one that could severely damage a company's reputation, does the exact opposite.
McDonald's Gets Political...#Hacked
Internet trolls moonlighting as cybercriminals love when they can infiltrate the network of a well-known company and speak for them. A tweet on McDonald's corporate Twitter account had some bitter words for the United States' 45th president, "@realDonaldTrump You are actually a disgusting excuse of a President and we would love to have @BarackObama back, also you have tiny hands." NPR reports that the tweet was only up for 20 minutes before it was taken down, but in that 20 minutes, the tweet was liked and shared over 1,"000 times.
McDonald's immediately issued a statement citing that the account had been compromised by an external source and that they apologize for the message. In a situation like this, having a robust cyber protection plan is essential. Such an inflammatory political message could demonstrably affect business. Cyber insurance financially protects businesses in these types of situations, and there's no doubt that McDonald's had their insurance company on the phone. Remarkably somehow, what could have been a nasty situation turned into PR gold.
Though there were Twitter users who threatened to boycott the fast-food chain, others congratulated the golden double-arches, with tweets like:
"That was actually pretty good marketing @McDonaldsCorp...now I want a breakfast sandwich. Tastes like freedom (of speech)."
Even Bad Publicity is Good Publicity
Despite having swiftly removed the tweet, Twitter users were able to take a screenshot of the post and share it on their own feeds. This resulted in what the Washington Post deemed, "good content." The single tweet generated memes, news stories (real and fake) and brought McDonald's free advertising. Despite being in the news for an unbecoming tweet about the president, McDonald's was receiving both condemnation and praise.
Since the initial hack took place, little has been said about how the McDonald's account was compromised or who was behind it. Some have argued it may have been the work of a disgruntled employee and a hack was easier to blame. Whatever the case, this hack could have hurt the fast-food chain, but it didn't, and it still wouldn't; not with cyber protection.
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