Online Reputation Management Blog

McDonald’s Hopes New Social Media Q&A Campaign Will Improve Public’s Perception

McDonald’s has a bad rap, and with the increasing popularity and availability of healthier on-the-go meal options, such as fast-casual chains like Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread, and Saladworks, consumers aren’t lovin’ it anymore. McDonald’s has therefore taken to social media in an effort to revamp their image of unhealthy — and maybe even downright unnatural — food, to one that promotes healthy meal choices.

As such, they’ve recruited former Mythbusters host Grant Imahara as part of their new social media campaign. Imahara, with his approachable nerdy-but-cool demeanor, is seemingly far less frightening than McDonald’s previous Facebook and Twitter Happy Meal Mascot, which drew an immense amount of scorn and mockery from consumers and which coincided with four consecutive months of declining, less than stellar U.S. sales. While the mocked mascot may not be directly linked to declining sales, it contributed to the public’s poor image of the McDonald’s brand.

According to a third-quarter study conducted this year by Brand Keys, McDonald’s has suffered declining sales across all age groups and generations. Millennials, Gen X- and Y-ers, and even Baby Boomers are spending less and less at McDonald’s, characterizing its food as “cheap,” and not “quality food.” However, McDonald’s has been suffering from much more than declining sales and the social media blues. Ironically enough, social media may just be what ultimately repairs their image.

In an effort to shift consumer behavior and dispel negative associations regarding their food, McDonald’s has taken to social media to keep it real with consumers by answering their questions. And consumers definitely got real, asking tough questions like “What is mechanically-separated meat, and how do you turn it into a nugget?” and “What’s with that pink slime?” and also “Is there horsemeat in your hamburgers?” The realest question of all may have been, “Does McDonald’s even sell real food?”

In addition to the social media campaign, McDonald’s is now accepting Apple Pay, a new mobile payment system that allows users to pay with a smartphone app rather than their wallet. Cloud based-POS systems have taken the retail and restaurant industries over by storm. The convenience and security of cloud POS systems allows businesses to have access to important sales data at all times, from any location where an internet connection is present. Large retailers and restaurant chains use cloud POS systems to carefully monitor sales. The Golden Arches will likely use this technology to track the efficacy of their new social efforts, as well.

While the future of McDonald’s has yet to be determined, the trend towards healthier, more natural foods makes it seem as though fewer people may be asking to have fries with that in the future.

iCloud Hackers Regroup After Celebrity Nude Photo Scandal

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Celebrities are not the only ones upset about the recent iCloud hack that resulted in the leak of hundreds of nude celebrity photos. Hackers from the porn forum “AnonIB” that hosted many of the photos are not used to so much publicity, nor did they want it. The creators of the site quickly took the forum down after realizing that the hacker who stole the photos, known as “OrigianlGuy,” had leaked the photos on their site.

Hackers who had shared hacking tips and advertised their skills on AnonIB disbanded after the story began to circulate through the news, and have only recently regrouped. Although the website is back up and running, its layout has changed in the aftermath of the celebrity scandal. The page that contained stolen photos, nicknamed “Stol,” is no longer available. The Stol page had previously been used as a way for hackers to adversities their services and as a common place for hackers to share tips on obtaining nude photographs. The creators of the site didn’t give an explanation for deleting this section of the forum, but fear of legal action against them is a likely cause.

iCloud hackers might not be able to steal information off the web as easily now that Apple has upped its security measures, but that isn’t likely to stop them. Information stored on the cloud is vulnerable to attacks, and nearly 50% of businesses lost data in the cloud in 2013. It might be more difficult, but hackers will find a way.

The war wages on in the celebrity nude photo scandal with the most recent legal actions involving Google. Celebrity lawyer Marty Singer has written to Google, demanding that they remove any nude celebrity photos that continue to circulate on its site and asking them to cut off any sites listed on Google that host the nude photos. He has threatened to sue the company for $100 million if they don’t cooperate.

A request made on behalf of victims of the photo scandal to remove all photos was sent to Google a month before the threat, but many sites that Google owns still displayed the pictures. Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Rihanna and Ariana Grande are among the female celebrities targeted by the iCloud attack.

SEO, Social Media Firms Struggle to Stay Ahead of the Curve as Google Releases New Updates

As tends to happen after Google puts out its latest updates for Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird — what you should think of as the gatekeepers of the Silicon Valley giant’s tech empire — digital marketing firms are freaking out a little bit. The changes to Google’s menagerie of animal-themed policemen are said to affect a full 90% of all listings on the search engine, which earns upwards of 100 billion search queries per month. With 93% of all online experiences beginning with a search engine — the vast majority of which start with Google — the updates aimed at removing low quality links and content from search engine result pages could obviously put a big dent in the revenue of a business that relies on digital marketing to generate buzz and sales.

As a new article from The Guardian details, however, the latest Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird updates shouldn’t be met with hysteria. In effect, they only serve to continue Google’s trend of pushing web marketing away from spammy link building and content creation practices. Instead, companies will have to shift to content that delivers utility to web users. In short, they’ll have to do what most top tier SEO companies have been saying they should have been doing for the last couple of years.

What Should a “Shift to Content” Actually Entail?
Quite simply, a shift to content should just be about focusing on high quality content that people find some sort of value in, whether that means making them laugh, educating them, or otherwise. Consider, according to a report from Business 2 Community, 73% of web users feel frustrated when they view a piece of uninteresting or otherwise useless content. The latest Google updates do, indeed, place more pressure on companies to put out great content, but if that means tapping into the $278.9 billion American web users are estimated to be spending online by 2015, the smart company will be willing to make the effort.

How are you modifying your marketing strategies to keep pace with Google’s updates? Let us know in the comment section below.

What the Marketing Industry Can Learn From Facebook’s Social Experiment

Many Facebook users have expressed discontent and alarm at the recent news stating that approximately 700,000 users were part of a secret social experiment back in 2012. Over a year after the study was begun, Facebook users seem conflicted about what they may or may not have participated in. The study required administrators to comb through users’ Newsfeed pages and slightly tweak which posts and status updated made by other were most often displayed on the page — either posts with positive messages were included more often, or posts with negative messages were increased. After the adjustment, researchers examined the types of posts made by users, to see if the users exposed to certain types of updates would be more likely to respond by posting updates of a similar nature.

Rather than being interested in the results, Facebook users are more interested in the ethics behind the research, and many critics have even gone as far as saying that the users exposed to negative posts may have experienced serious psychological harm.

From a marketing standpoint, this particular experiment is quite interesting: on one hand, it brought Facebook’s name into a huge public discussion, and did so at a time when social media giants Twitter and Instagram are becoming more popular than Facebook — bad press is still press, right? It’s impossible to get people interested in a brand when they don’t even know the name. But on the other hand, this move seemed to violate users’ trust, even though the experiment was technically conducted without violating the Facebook User Agreement. Many people are wondering, however, if this experiment will end up hurting Facebook’s empire in the long run.

At what point does bad press become truly harmful to a company? Or, like the slogan states, is bad press still considered good press today, since it gets a company’s name and product out there? Bad press may have unintentionally good results for companies that offer products which no other company offers, but it seems that a company with strong competitors may not be able to afford bad press. Whatever the case may be, we’re sure to find out soon enough.