Social Media Monitoring at McDonald’s: A Personal Anecdote

I recently met the former CFO of Radian6, a social media monitoring company that was incubated and grown in New Brunswick, Canada, and we had a great discussion about the role that this kind of technology can play in developing, andvancing, and protecting a brand. He is the former CFO only because the company was recently acquired by SalesForce – an illuminating acquisition.

For those of you new to this technology, the basic idea is that it allows organizations to monitor social media such as Twitter and FaceBook for discussion of a company, its products, its marketing campaigns, and so on. Analytical tools and techniques help companies measure “sentiment” (i.e., do people like or hate your latest product?) and other trends that might be meaningful for sales, marketing, customer support and other purposes.

I recently had a personal encounter with social media monitoring. Last week I did a speaking engagement at an OpenText user group meeting. It was hosted by McDonald’s Corp. at their executive training facility, called “Hamburger University.” No, Hamburger University isn’t just a street name or euphamism for the training center –  that is its actual name (see photo below for proof).

Hamburger University entrance

Hamburger University is part of McDonald’s campus-style headquarters west of Chicago. I stayed “on campus” at a Hyatt connected by a bridge over an idyllic pond (“Lake Fred”) to the training facility.  It’s a beautiful location – 80 acres of lakes and trees and prairie-style architecture.

It was an great event – I presented an “Introduction to Information Governance,” and there were some detailed case studies from OpenText customers like Hyatt about how they are using their digital asset management, social media management, and other products.

Anyway, the morning of the event, I tweeted the following:

Tweet #1

Shortly thereafter, the Hyatt tweeted the following, and I replied:

Tweet #2

And the McDonald’s Corp tweeted the following, and I replied:

Tweet #3

This is social media monitoring software at work, which is cool to see. But there is something even more remarkable happening here, as my friend and enterprise software marketing guru Sean Wilcox (EVP at pointed out:

“Such a great way to connect more deeply with customers, partners etc. No wonder Oracle and SFDC are buying companies that help them do this. However, note that, even with all the automation, an individual with a sense of humor created the spark that made this memorable. Praise to the person who replied about Hamburgler.”

This is a great insight: although the technology enabled the interaction, it was the human spark that made it memorable.

We are working on a number of social media governance projects, so this lesson is useful. In some ways, enterprise social media has painted itself into a corner. On the one hand, a key part of its value proposition is its supposed “authenticity,” i.e, its ability to enable “real conversations” among employees, partners, and customers. On the other hand, creating and maintaining authenticity takes a lot of time and effort –  too much for many leaders, subject matter experts and other folks with real jobs who might be tapped to represent your brand online. Clearly, any hope of sustaining a new kind of interaction between a brand and its market through social media cannot happen without automation that helps your people find the time to be focused, authentic, and memorable.

Some additional pictures of Hamburger University

McDonald's Hamburger University bridge

OpenText User Group at Hamburger University

Lake Fred at McDonald's Hamburger University


  1. Zoë Geddes-Soltess (@zodot)

    Hi Barclay,

    Thank you so much for mentioning Radian6 and for sharing your experience with the McDonald’s social media team. Hopefully you get a Hamburglar sighting the next time you are in Chicago 🙂

    Zoe Geddes-Soltess
    Community Engagement, Radian6

  2. tchernik


    Had a similar experience a couple of weeks ago in Charlotte, NC. As part of the ARMA Mid-Atlantic Region (@ARMAmid) Leadership Conference (#armamarconf), the hosts arranged a tour of Bank of America Stadium, home the the NFL\’s Carolina Panthers (@panthers). As we approached the stadium and prepared to enter I tweeted a few pictures and comments and mentioned the team/facility (@panthers). A few minutes later I got a \”hope you are enjoying the tour\” reply from the team…We did enjoy tour (especially our tour guide who should be doing stand up) and replied back as such. Organizations are watching their social media accounts!

  3. Pingback: Social Media Monitoring | Veronica's World

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s