This Winter, Consider a Social Media Hibernation.

Some brands have successfully created demand for their products by risking a social media blackout.

Caroline Henley
January 5, 2015 - 3 min. read

Going into hiding might seem counterintuitive to a marketing professional, but in certain circumstances, it has paid off in spades. Looking back at some of these creative campaigns, the numbers agree: a social media blackout can actually boost your reach on social.

Hibernating as a marketing tactic isn’t new. Disney is famous for its “Disney Vault,” as the studio shelves animated films for years and re-releases them to each new generation of kids. This allows the company to create new demand for old titles.

So which pages are restricting their content on social media in order to create more demand? We took a look at Taco Bell and Cadbury Creme Egg.

The dark side of Taco Bell
Taco Bell launched a mobile ordering app in late October. To drive downloads, the chain went dark on social media, saying that Taco Bell would now be online solely through the app. The brand even moved its 1.4 million Twitter followers to a separate account, making it look as if its online reach had completely vanished. 

Taco Bell Social Media Blackout

These 1,071 followers jumped on to the page in the first few hours of Taco Bell’s dark period.

 #OnlyInTheApp trended on Twitter and generated tons of press. A few days later, Taco Bell’s Twitter fans reappeared and the company gradually began posting again across its profiles.

It’s quite the bold move to give up a reach of 12 million people across various social channels. But in this case, it paid off. Take a look at Taco Bell’s spike in fans when it started to post again on Facebook, two weeks later.


Cadbury Creme Egg plays hard to get
Cadbury Creme Egg season is back! Talking about the same chocolate candy over and over seems like it would get boring fast, but Mondelez, the snacking company that owns Cadbury, has a social team that writes witty post after witty post.

After a two year period in which Creme Egg sales fell 35%, Mondelez teamed up with Facebook to jump start its social strategy. The page started posting “chocolate porn,” with shots of the eggs unwrapping themselves, and listings of the eggs on fake dating sites. Mondelez invested in promoted posts and the page soared. But after April, end of the egg season, they shut it down for nine entire months of a social media blackout. 


The Creme Egg’s social strategy is modeled after its brick and mortar strategy: just as the Egg is only stocked for the Easter season, the Egg’s Facebook page is only active during the same period. Like Disney and Taco Bell, Cadbury Creme Egg is creating the demand for its own product.

Welcome back, Creme Egg. Engagement spikes right when it needs to—when the eggs go back on sale.

Welcome back, Creme Egg. Engagement spikes right when it needs to—when the eggs go back on sale.

 And so when I say “Cadbury Creme Egg season is back!” with a little too much enthusiasm—that means they’ve done their job.

With Facebook cracking down on overly-salesy posts this month, brands will have to be even more creative with content. These particular hibernation tactics are risky, but for the right brand and in the right context, can be a great way to stand out from the competition.

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