Social media as a marketing strategy

By September 24, 2015General

You might use social media for your business, but is it really part of your marketing strategy? No one can deny that social media is insanely useful today. For many brands, it’s a central focus of their marketing strategy. Considering that it was once viewed as a passing fad, it is now the voice of many brands, across diverse audience segments.

But there are still some businesses that consider it a frivolous tool which is “good-to-have”, but not a game changer that will affect the future of the business.

But the truth is that it can. Social media should not be an “accessory” to your marketing strategy; as it could be the very thing that makes or breaks your brand.

Here’s a look at why that is, using two real-life examples.


The greetings card brand turned strongly negative perceptions into glowing recommendations purely on the back of its use of social media.

The company launched a toy puppy called Jingle that would bark and interact with kids as they read the book that accompanied it. Kids loved it and parents loved it. But disaster struck when a batch of puppies turned out to be defective. The backlash against Hallmark on social media was instant. From videos of crying children on Youtube, to Twitter rants and terrible ratings on Amazon; disgruntled customers used every platform they could to be heard.

Thankfully, Hallmark was listening. It personally reached out to each disgruntled customer with a custom made apology note on Facebook. It also sent them an exclusive toy puppy “Nugget”, and a voucher for a future version of Jingle.

The result? The personal touch worked. The negative reviews were replaced with gushing recommendations and expressions of thanks for the exercise in corporate listening and rapid response. This was all thanks to having a marketing strategy that focused on social media.


Just as social media can be a huge customer enabler, not knowing what to automate on social media and what not to, has come back to bite brands in their backside. Take the case of life insurance company Progressive and its run-in with comedian Matt Fisher.

Fisher accused Progressive of wrongly denying a life insurance claim following his sister’s death. A number of Twitterati stood by Fisher and protested the company’s unfair treatment of the bereaved family.

Instead of replying to each person’s tweet individually, Progressive sent out a generic automated reply to every user, resulting in a meaningless and insensitive stream of conversation. This not only resulted in a plunge in Progressive’s consumer-brand perception, it also led to thousands of customers cancelling their life insurance policies. Ouch.

Hotcow is a non-traditional creative agency that specialises in experiential marketing that goes viral. Our campaigns generate buzz through crowd participation, PR and content sharing. Contact us on 0207 50 30442 or email us on