How ThinkGeek made social media success out of unicorn meat

One of the truly great things about a company blog is that it lets your business react to adversity – and turn it to your advantage.

Here’s a great example. The is a kind of toy store for all things IT geeks love: USB toys, puzzles, T-shirts, games, gadgets, etc.

Not long ago they posted an April Fools’ Day gift item: Canned Unicorn Meat that “tastes like rotisserie chicken but with a hint of marshmallow sweetness.” The phony product page featured the tag line: “Unicorn – the new white meat.”

Guess who sent them a cease and desist order? The National Pork Board, for infringement of their slogan “the other white meat.”

Well, no sooner did the people at ThinkGeek get the cease and desist when they decided to post it on their blog last week (June 21) with a link to the complete 9-page cease and desist letter. Of course they linked to the blog post on their Twitter page.

The result? 257 comments, mostly all in one day. Using my hefty math skills, that’s about a gazillion more comments than they get for most posts.

Just Google “unicorn meat cease and desist” … and you’ll get 50,000+ results. That’s right: 50,000+ web pages mentioning ThinkGeek’s run-in with the National Pork Board.

Think they got any new business from that?

I think ThinkGeek needs to send a gift basket to the National Pork Board. Of canned unicorn meat of course.

Ambivalent about Facebook for business?

I think there are a lot of people who are blown away by the sheer size and magnitude of Facebook.  Look at all the overwhelming statistical info.

I also am sure that many businesses look at Facebook and wonder why they should be on it.

Well, I have a secret: If at first glance you can’t figure out what your business should be doing on Facebook … then it’s probably not right for your business. If, however, you look at Facebook and think “Wow – look at all the people I can connect to!” then congratulations, you’re one of the ones who’ll probably do well with it. If the idea of connecting your business to the unwashed masses abhors you, then yeah, you’d better not set up that account.

It’s all about the attitude. And the commitment. If you don’t have the right attitude and commitment, it’s not going to work for you.

Facebook is best when it comes to retail-based and consumer-based loyalty building. If you don’t want to gain loyalty from customers or build awareness of your business/services as a goal, then Facebook may not be the best option.

Of course … you may want to look deeply into why you don’t want to build awareness or loyalty. Hiding something?

What kicked off this post was Chris Brogan’s blog today mentioning a colleague’s new book on Facebook marketing. Brogan admits in a roundabout way that Facebook isn’t high on his list. Which is interesting when one of the highest paid social media consultants says something like that. And look at the comments below his post from other marketers. Interesting, yes?

Report: Most businesses using social media don’t have a game plan

A recent survey of 97 companies by Digital Brand Expressions found that of those engaged in social media marketing, only 41% have a strategic plan in place. That leaves close to 60% that don’t. You can download the report at the DBE site.

Of those companies that answered questions about what activities they do include in their marketing plan, here’s what they do:

  • 90% – Allocating resources for ongoing social media activities
  • 77% – Registering branded usernames on important social media s
  • 74% – Researching how brand competitors and key stakeholders are utilizing social media
  • 71% – Setting up metrics/tracking methods to measure ROI of social media activities
  • 55% – Specifying the proper configuration of account settings on important social media s
  • 52% – Planning for ongoing monitoring of brand reputation in the social media environment
  • 45% – Preparing and distributing protocols/policies for ongoing communications, including how to respond to positive/negative comments on social media s
  • 39% – Distributing guidelines for all employees regarding their general use of social media for personal and professional use.
  • 29% – Preparing and distributing protocols/policies for utilization of social media s by specific departments, e.g. guidelines for Sales, Talent Recruitment, Customer Service, etc.

Use of social media is still mostly in the PR realm of things: 71% of those surveyed said they use social media for PR activities while only about half (55%) use it for sales-related activities.