Sunny Co Clothing Viral Social Promotion: A PR Disaster or a Misstep in the Right Direction?

Social media; one of the most powerful marketing tools that can promote your business or brand to the masses, with the ultimate goal of gaining new business, customers and traffic.

However, it does have its pitfalls – as some brands have experienced in a very public way.

Social media marketing is almost like baking a cake; you have to get the perfect mixture of tone of voice, strategy and content in order to bake the perfect cake (or in this metaphorical case, a social marketing campaign). Get the mixture wrong and you could be left with egg on your face.

But is this always the case?

In some cases, PR ‘disasters’ could ultimately be a win for some brands – if they can weather the storm.

Here at Blueclaw, we’ve taken one of the most recent examples of a social marketing campaign that puts into question whether any press is good press.

The Sunny Co Clothing Instagram Promotion

At the beginning of May, Sunny Co Clothing, a relatively small American e-commerce retailer, ran a promotion on Instagram. The promotion was to receive a red ‘Pamela’ swimsuit.

The rules were simple; to receive a free swimsuit, users simply had to repost the promotion photo and tag the brand in their post within 24 hours. In return, users would be sent a code which could be used at the checkout to get a free swimsuit. The promotion did however state that EVERYONE who did the above would receive a free swimsuit.

Have you spotted the mistake yet?

Their promotion went viral and received over 300K likes and hundreds of thousands of participants within the first 24 hours. It’s not feasible, or cost effective, for them to give away over 300,000 free swimsuits (with a shipping and handling fee).

Many participants took to social media to complain that despite receiving a code, they were getting charged full price. What followed was a social media backlash, so the company deleted their social media accounts a couple of days after the promotion originally ran, leaving many angry that Sunny Co Clothing didn’t follow through with their promotion.

Magically, their social media accounts re-appeared a few days later and an apology was posted on their Instagram account.

So, although it looks like the majority of participants will be missing out, the first 50,000 will still receive their free swimsuit.

What are the key takeaways from this?

Brand awareness – Before the campaign, the brand wasn’t well known and around a month before the promotion, they received around 2-3K likes on their Instagram posts. Now, they are regularly getting around 20K likes on their Instagram posts.

Way before the promotion went live, the company had a small, yet humble, 7,000 Instagram followers. Just 24 hours later, their follower count skyrocketed to over an impressive 770,000.

Traffic increase – By directing customers and their audience to their website, it’s likely that the volume of traffic on their website has increased ten-fold. At the time of writing, ALL of their 17 swimsuit products are out of stock.

We can’t speculate whether their swimsuits were regularly sold out before the promotion, but this could be evidence of strong organic sales off the back of the campaign.

So – was this ultimately a social media misstep in the right direction?

Only Sunny Co know the true impact of the fuss but companies can’t be casual about the risks of an over-enthusiastic approach to social media.

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