Around last week, a Bacon Explosion hit the Internet in a big way. The explosive consists of 2 pounds of Italian sausage and 2 pounds of bacon, woven together with BBQ sauce and stuck in a smoker for a few hours. When detonated, it releases at least 5,000 calories and 500 grams of fat, and serves at least 10 potential heart attack victims.
The New York Times article about its creation and promotion, “Take Bacon. Add Sausage. Blog,” offers some insight in how the story propagated across the Web, so I wanted to see what kind of lessons we can take away for promoting your own small business endeavors.
The proprietors of BBQ Addicts wanted to drive traffic to their Web site to increase advertising revenue. Coincidentally, in December, a Twitter user challenged them to do something barbecue with bacon. They came up with their particular spin on a smoked bacon and sausage log, and posted it on their site 2 days before Christmas. They then saw a traffic spike on Christmas Day, and at some point it went viral.
* One of the guys, Aaron Chronister, is an Internet marketer/search engine optimization guy. He also has 1,200 followers on his Twitter account.
* They (and others) posted links to the Bacon Explosion on social networking and social linksharing sites. (StumbleUpon is specifically mentioned.) Likewise, as seen on many sites, they have links so their visitors can also easily submit the page to linksharing sites (Digg, Twitter, and Delicious).
How can we make this relevant to your small business?
* People really like bacon. Seriously. Whether it’s bacon bras or bacon on cats, there’s something about bacon that people really, really like. Not only do Internet people like bacon, they like talking about bacon, and they’ll send bacon links to their friends. Bacon has a built-in audience, and one that’s ready-made to go viral.
Not many things have this kind of appeal. If your business doesn’t involve bacon, it still helps if you have a sense of what people have an affinity for. One thing you don’t want to do is indiscriminate spam everything you do to every social linksharing site out there. If you expect any sort of effective response, think about what people who aren’t you might find interesting or useful
* Use the tools at your disposal. Take advantage of social media tools like Twitter, StumbleUpon, Delicious, etc. Most of them are even free. And make it easy for your visitors to use these tools to share what you’re doing.
* Be an Internet marketer. And have lots of friends who are Internet marketers. All this means is that the Internet is a valuable tool for getting the word out, and there are people who know this. Connect with these people, understand what they’re talking about, talk to them, and be a contributing part of the community. People are not tools, but when you form real relationships with connected people, they will help you get your own word out (when you have something interesting or useful to say).
* You can try, but you never can tell. There is no secret formula for guaranteed viral success. And you don’t have to hit as big as the Bacon Explosion to be a success — getting known in your local or regional market can work just fine.
For some additional food for thought, check out 5 steps on going viral on Twitter and Go Beyond Blogging – Multi-Channel Marketing via Online Media.
Remember, the lesson here is not “Incorporate bacon into your business,” but instead, recognize when you’re doing something interesting or useful, then use the social media tools available to you to help get the word out among your expanding circle of connected friends.
If you’ve got thoughts specific to the success of the Bacon Explosion (is it a one-off, an outlier that we shouldn’t draw conclusions from?), or promoting your small business using social media tools in general, please leave a comment.Google+