Brand Fails: McDonald’s Instagram

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Instagram boasts 300 million monthly active users engaging with 70 million photos per day. The platform’s popularity attracts brands from local “mom and pop” shops to the top of the Forbes 500 list. However, it’s misleading to measure social media success by the number of followers and number of likes. At first glance, McDonald’s account seems ideal. The brand’s 771K followers makes it the most-followed food Instagram account in the world. And, McDonald’s posts regularly with a defined style and voice that matches Instagram’s values for artistic, rather than sales, content.


Yet, the Instagram comments section is riddled with insults that tarnish McDonald’s social media presence.


McDonald’s can’t photoshop the comments section, which graffitis every colorful, high-quality picture. Visitors’ comments range from questioning the meat products, facility cleanliness, and quality of the menu items. The foul words and comments not only litter the page, but pick fights with the few brand ambassadors. While the Instagram page reflects poorly on the customer base, and therefore the company, the comments at least provide entertainment:

You guys are the devil I hope you know that”

“MCDONALDS BURGERS ARE MADE OUT OF PINK PASTE Artificial flavors and glue disgusting I can’t believe people eat this crap”
“This s*** looks disgusting! Dry a** chemical burgers who would eat this s***”

Brand Fail McDonald's

“feedback: I can eat in n out for better stuff”

So why does McDonald’s have so many followers? McDonald’s reports that 36,000 establishments serve about 69 million people a day. That’s only 22 followers per location. From that perspective, it’s a dismal amount of followers. Take for example Shake Shack, a burger joint with 70 locations worldwide. With 194K followers, that’s 2,771 followers per location. Given McDonald’s scope, the Instagram following does not reflect its business outreach.

Content acts as another component to McDonald’s brand fail. Again, look at Shake Shack’s approach. Green screen backgrounds and props don’t compare to Shake Shack’s authentic photos. The account shares fan pics (crediting the photographer’s Instagram account) as followers tag friends, make plans and support Shake Shack. While the average number of engagement doesn’t compare to McDonald’s, the follower’s sentiment promotes the brand rather than defames it.

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