Crock Pot Girls: 3 Lessons for Social Media Managers

Published: September 8, 2011 / No Comments

A week ago I got an email from my boss asking if I had heard about the Crock Pot Girls Facebook page. I hadn’t, but I quickly learned 2 things:

  1. They had grown from zero to almost 750,000 fans in just the prior two weeks (today they have well over a million).
  2. There was almost no information on who the founders are or how they did it.

Suddenly, everyone in the marketing group, including my boss, was looking to me to explain what happened.

So, did I sweat and fret and struggle to come up with an explanation that would justify why, as the Social Media Director at Cozi, I hadn’t produced in two years what this page had done in just two weeks? Nope. Here’s why:

  1. Stories like this are the REASON we all have jobs in social media. Just like the David After Dentist YouTube video (now with a staggering 99 million+ views), or the People of Wal-Mart Blog, sometimes stuff just takes off. (Asha Dornfest’s wrote an excellent post highlighting the unpredictability factor in the success of her popular blog, Parenthacks.)
  2. The kind of lightning-in-a bottle represented by the Crock Pot Girls page makes for a useful story in many ways, but at the end of the day, these stories are few and far between for a good reason: Smart social media is a marathon, not a sprint, and the real value only accrues to your company over time.
  3. There has already been some speculation on how they did it, and whether it was driven by black hat techniques. Although the page looked decidedly unkosher when I first checked it out, and several of the people producing anecdotal evidence of foul play are people I trust, there is no doubt that the page now has many thousands of legitimate fans too.  So, do the origins matter to you as a social media manager? Probably not. (Better to let the consultants and agencies worry about that.) Because at the end of the day, your first goal is to build YOUR page and use it to serve your customers better.

The truth is it doesn’t really help you or your business to stress out about how the Crock Pot Girls got there.

See, I do not believe that social media is a zero sum game; If the Crock Pot Girls have a million+ fans, good for them. Their fan count does not in any way prevent you from continuing to benefit from the excellent Facebook page you’ve already built. One that you use to engage your customers, gather product feedback, develop a nuanced understanding of your audience, deliver great product support, and so much more.

And if your page is NOT doing all those things for your company, the last thing you want to do is spend your time worrying about someone ELSE’s fan count.

But wait! What if you have a crock pot or recipe fan page and website? Isn’t it a zero sum game then? Aren’t they stealing all your customers’ eyeballs?

I have good news for you: If they actually do a good job and make that Crock Pot Girls page super engaging, then they aren’t stealing your customers from you, they are AGGREGATING them for you. You now have the ideal place to park your limited marketing dollars in the form of a super tight and targeted campaign of Facebook ads – to be served exclusively to the fans of the Crock Pot Girls. After all, who is more likely to click “Like” on your crock pot recipe page than someone who already likes a page about crockpot cooking? And if their page sucks and fails? Then they aren’t hurting you are they?

So, go ahead and read about these fun viral hit stories; Heck use ’em in your presentations too. But then go right back to staying focused on what you were doing before your boss asked you about this: build a great page that works for YOUR business goals.