In the latest instalment of our blog series looking at how brands make use of the four major social networks, I’ve decided to take a closer look at McDonald’s.

McDonald’s is one of the most recognisable brands in the world, yet also has to battle a fair amount of negative publicity, so one would assume that its social accounts would be extremely active.

This blog follows on from similar posts looking at the social strategies of ASOS, Walmart, Starbucks and Red Bull, among others.

And without further ado, here is a quick look at how McDonald’s uses Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+...


For a company that has had its fair share of bad press over the years, McDonald’s remains one of the biggest brands in the world and this is reflected in its social media communities.

The McDonald’s US page has more than 27m fans, and its local market pages have all attracted several hundred thousand ‘likes’.

But despite its obvious success in attracting fans, McDonald’s actually does relatively little in regards to posting content on its wall.

Accepted wisdom suggests that you need to post frequent updates in order to maintain people’s attention on Facebook, and retailers such as ASOS and Walmart are great exponents of this theory.

However both McDonald’s and Starbucks have taken a far more hands off approach, yet are two of the most ‘liked’ brands on the social network.

McDonald’s generally posts fewer than five updates a month yet each one attracts several thousands ‘likes’ and comments, which is more than the brands that posts several times per day. 

Several commenters on my Starbucks blog post suggested the engagement levels that these massive global brands enjoy on social media is just a natural by-product of their corporate success, and that theory certainly appears to hold water. 

McDonald’s makes no apparent effort to respond to the thousands of user comments it receives, and most of its posts are merely product promotions.

Interestingly, the local market pages are far more active and post several updates per week.

The UK page has almost 500,000 fans and posts a steady stream of eye-catching content, though nearly all of it is product focused.

While many businesses use social to give a more rounded image of the brand by posting lifestyle content, McDonald’s just promotes its product range and upcoming changes to the menu.

Even so, it maintains an impressive level of engagement, with each post attracting several thousand ‘likes’ and comments.

Furthermore, McDonald’s UK hasn’t made any effort to reward its Facebook fans in any way. Many brands run Facebook competitions, with Ikea’s warehouse sleepover being a notable example.

But McDonald’s clearly doesn’t see any value in that, and sticks to its sales messages instead.


Unlike its Facebook page, McDonald’s USA invests a lot of time and effort in maintaining an active Twitter feed.

It posts several updates each day to entertain its 995,000 followers, however it tends to avoid tweeting anything too quirky or off-message and instead remains resolutely focused on promoting it products.

This could be because this Twitter feed was the subject of a fairly major social fail in 2012. McDonald’s used the hashtag #McDStories to promote video content of their suppliers talking about McDonald’s ingredients.

Unfortunately for Ronald the campaign was hijacked by consumers complaining about the company’s service and the quality of the food.

That said, the social team do respond to a handful of users each day but only ever ones that have posted positive comments.

The fast food chain also has an official corporate account, which has far fewer followers but responds to a far greater number of @mentions.

This Twitter feeds injects more personality into its tweets, and like the US account it links to short biographies of each member of the social team.

Through this account the brand engages in conversations with other users and brands alike, and also occasionally responds to complaints.

On top of this, McDonald’s also has a dedicated customer service feed that responds to customer complaints.

However it currently only responds to about 20 customers per day, and based on the number of McDonald’s restaurants in the US I would have thought that this means a large amount of complaints are going unanswered on Twitter.

As with its Facebook strategy, McDonald’s also has Twitter local Twitter feeds for various global markets and US states.

But despite the fact that even El Salvador has its own feed, the UK apparently doesn’t see any value in using Twitter.


While McDonald's maintains separate acounts for its local markets on Facebook and Twitter, on Pinterest it only has one main corporate account.

A majority of the content is pinned from the company’s Flickr account, while the rest mainly comes from other McDonald’s websites.

This is a common tactic among brands, presumably because they want to make sure they aren’t driving traffic to other sites and avoid any copyright claims.

The one board that bucks this trend is ‘#FoodThanks’ which was created to “collectively show appreciation for wholesome food and those who provide it.”

McDonald’s has invited other users to pin their own food-related images to the board, which is a good way of building a community on the network as it means people feel involved with the brand.

Overall though, McDonald’s isn’t particularly active on Pinterest compared to other major brands such as Red Bull and Walmart. 

It joined the network more than a year ago and since then has only pinned 393 images on its 15 boards. The account only has around 2,000 followers, which is low for a such a huge, global brand.

One other interesting point to note is that McDonald’s is unable to run any Pinterest competitions due to the differing regulations in the 119 countries in which it operates.

This deprives its social team of a useful tool, as many other brands have managed to increase engagement and boost their follower numbers by running competitions on Pinterest.


While putting together these social media posts one common theme that has emerged is that very few brands bother to put a lot of effort into their Google+ pages.

ASOS and John Lewis are notable exceptions as they post updates on a daily basis, but Ikea and Walmart are more typical examples in that they have established G+ pages, posted a few updates, then lost interest and left the accounts dormant.

McDonald’s actually goes one step further, and has established a G+ account then done absolutely nothing with it. There isn’t a single post in its feed.

There are also accounts for other local markets, including Brazil and Japan, but neither has been updated since last summer.

The one exception is McDonald’s Germany, which last posted on March 6, however the updates only come at the rate of about two a month.

David Moth

Published 13 March, 2013 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (10)

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David Quaid

When you're this big and have this much TV advertising, then you can afford to be this transactional online :)

over 5 years ago



Hi Graham,
It's interesting that lots of brands including McDonalds don't bother with Google +, they mostly do a very thorough job on Facebook, is Google + redundant or doesn't have as many users as Facebook? Whenever some new social media comes out, companies tend to jump into it hoping not to miss a chance but often without thinking what to do with it.

I'm not sure how long the list of social media may grow in the future, but even for big companies it's still a lot of effort to manage growing number of social channels (unless they work with social PR agency). I'm wondering if there are any particular patterns/combinations of using them by different business sectors? For example, retailers tend to use a full array of them for product release, customer engagement, promoting brands and creating buzz, while business services may choose only a handful, more business related ones to highlight the benefits of their services, make announcements and provide important information to customers...

over 5 years ago



I'm really enjoying reading these case studies on how big companies use their social media profiles (always looking to nick ideas as well!) - but it's very disheartening when companies like Starbucks and McDonalds seem have massive likes and follower numbers with relatively low-maintenance social media presence. I've put this down to their presence on the high street; their brand is already built through advertising and having actual physical shops, whereas a brand such as ASOS, which only operates online, is going to need a lot more investment in appealing to customers digitally - does that seem reasonable?

I think one of the best companies to work for in digital marketing team has got to be Cadbury's, their Google+ page is phenomenal! Can you do a case study on that one please?! - or I'll do it! (not a threat, but an offer!)

over 5 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Managing Editor at Barclaycard

@Kate, thanks for your comment. I think your point about ASOS is definitely valid - as a pureplay online brand it has different marketing objectives to high street retailers, and its social strategy certainly reflects that.

Cadbury are certainly an interesting brand when it comes to social, and we previously spoke to Jerry Daykin (Cadbury social manager) about best practice on Google+...

So, thanks for the suggestion. I'll certainly try to tick Cadbury off the list in the next few weeks!

over 5 years ago


Danielle Chan

I love social media and always enjoy taking a look at how big companies like McDonald's use it!

over 5 years ago



Hi David, my apologies for getting the name wrong. I can't find a way to edit my comment so please take this as an acknowledgement.

over 5 years ago

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