At the Crossroads of Media, Culture and Technology

Bacon Salt Oprah-ized, the real social media story

If you’re a young company, getting on the Oprah show can mean a pot of gold – it can also make you plenty nervous about ramping up to the anticipated demand. Despite her mainstream platform, Oprah Winfrey practices social networking with gusto! Think about the “favorite things” product handouts and her endorsements of all kinds of products – talk about a network!

Bacon Salt is a Seattle company that just got Oprah-ized, but has a real track record of using social media to get established.

Xconomy first reported on the company, started by two alumni of Jobster.com in 2007. They started with profiles on MySpace and Facebook, and launched discussion groups. Perhaps their crowning touch was to friend everybody who said “I love bacon”. Xconomy quotes their results as 37,000 bacon loving fans on MySpace alone. Founder Justin Esch is quoted as saying “There’s a huge bacon subculture. There’s love and there’s fanaticism.” They have since attracted the attention of venture capitalists, and now Oprah. There are some business lessons here also – Again in Esch’s words:

1. In the social media space, having advocates of your brand, evangelists, is the most powerful thing you can do. Do you trust someone marketing to you, or do you trust a friend’s referral?

2. Be genuine. be honest about who you are and what your intention is.

3. Never give up on promotion. – they mailed product to the Oprah show four separate times, but a convergence that started with John Stewart’s poke at baconnaise got her attention.

Lessons here for all kinds of companies, and for daytime Divas.  Social media has the power to make an overnight sensation – or maybe just a hurricane that was forecast, but never came ashore.

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This post is categorized in: Social Media

3 Responses to Bacon Salt Oprah-ized, the real social media story

  1. Johnathon S. says:

    It’s great to see fellow bacon lovers get some positive media attention. Keep up the good work guys.

  2. Rebekah says:

    This is pretty interesting Harry! Especially that the company used some great tactics to develop a strong following online, but still needed the Oprah seal of approval (mass media) to get national attention.

    And, the Stewart sketch on the mayo was pretty funny!

  3. Sidnee says:

    I heard a great story about how Fran’s Chocolates on Pike St. got Obamaized, with a similar result. Frans has long had a great online site with a thriving special event and mail order business. But it took a product evangelist – in this case a campaign worker – to put together a Seattle’s favorite things treat basket that included a box of Fran’s grey sea salt caramels, for the Obama’s when they campaigned here last year.
    The result – Barack fell for the taste and became an evangelist of sorts himself. Armed with the “presidential seal of approval” Fran’s caramels became a favorite Inauguration gift item, and now they are an official White House gift, packed in a custom-made dark blue box with with the White House seal–tied up with gold ribbon. Fran Bigelow says although they have noticed a big uptick in their online sales since the story hit the media, and that sea salt caramels are now their #1 best seller, there is no way to be sure how much of it is due to the “Obama effect”.
    So, like you say Harry, the product has to be memorable to somebody to sell in the first place, but when that somebody is famous and popular – the well-placed can go viral. Recently I saw a recipe online for salt caramel brownies that the creator openly admitted was inspired by Obama’s new favorite Seattle treat: http://www.franschocolates.com/home.php. And the purveyor of grey sea salt, the Anglesey Sea Salt Company in Wales, told the UK Daily Post they were delighted to be part of the Obama’s viral confection connection.

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