Social Spotlight: Goo Goo Clusters

What one candy company can teach you about the social media sweet spot.

Nashville-based Goo Goo Clusters celebrated its 100th birthday in October 2012. And despite being one of Tennessee’s oldest companies, their social marketing efforts were nothing if not modern and fresh.

From a scavenger hunt to the world’s least healthy fun run to a month-long dessert celebration around town, Goo Goo harnessed social power to spread their message and mobilize their fans. Let’s take a look at what they did well and see what your marketing team can take away from their example.

Scavenger Hunt: The cornerstone of Goo Goo’s social anniversary was a scavenger hunt held in downtown Nashville. The hunt required people to follow a series of clues that were posted on the company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, and travel to secret locations to rack up entries in a drawing for prizes. They also commissioned Lightning 100 to post the clues on its social pages. Then Goo Goo sweetened the deal for participants who visited all five secret locations by guaranteeing them a prize and making them eligible to win the grand prize: a year’s worth of Goo Goo Clusters and $100 to spend at the online store.

Social Suggestion: Don’t confine your social initiatives to the Internet. If your target market has a hub – which Goo Goo Clusters does as a Nashville-based business – don’t be scared to use social media to drive people to real places. You’ll build brand recognition among participants, bystanders and your community partners, and you’ll make your marketing concrete instead of virtual. Also, by cross-promoting your event with local media, you’ll reach a wider audience.

Jog ‘n Hog: Billed as the event that “will test you physically, mentally and gastronomically,” Goo Goo teamed up with the national Jog ‘n Hog race series for a Nashville event. Participants jogged 1.5 miles through Shelby Park, stopped to “hog on” six Goo Goo Clusters, and then jogged back to the starting line. (Commence simultaneous sugar rush and stomachache.) As you would expect, Goo Goo promoted this event through its social channels, but  also expanded the audience to other cities through publicity from Jog ‘n Hog’s website and social streams.

Social Suggestion: Never underestimate the power of a unique event or partnership. By teaming up with an already-established organization, Goo Goo leveraged its social networks as well as Jog ‘n Hog’s. And by choosing one that was so unique – and arguably quite gross and ridiculous – the candy maker garnered attention and activated a niche online audience, which can be a very influential group.

Desserts Around Nashville: The longest running – and most delicious – initiative celebrating Goo Goo’s centennial, more than 40 Nashville area restaurants, food trucks, cafes and bakeries featured desserts inspired by the candy during October. (Our Content Associate, Cadence Turpin, swears by the offering at Silo: Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie with Goo Goo Cluster topping. Look, we never claimed weight loss to be one of the goals of this promotion.) They also obtained media placement in local publications, such as Nashville Lifestyles magazine.

Social Suggestion: Cross-promotion is always a sweet deal, especially when it revolves around dessert. By enlisting local restaurants and food trucks to use their product, Goo Goo Clusters reached the “foodies,” who are very active on social media but who might not have sought out Goo Goo Clusters on their own. Also, by posting each dessert on their social pages and encouraging the participating restaurants to do the same, the social reach was doubled.

The moral of the story: Social media can and should be used in conjunction with traditional marketing efforts to create a complete campaign. Bringing people together in person, drumming up buzz using an interesting or bizarre event, and localizing cross-promotion of your product can all be administered and amplified via social media. And, as it is with most things in life, free stuff and chocolate always help.