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I really want some Thin Mints or: Why social media is so important for retail

Social software, Trends

I’ll admit it – I’m very suggestible. I’m an advertiser’s dream. If I see people eat tasty-looking food in a television commercial, I get hungry. If I hear people talk about knocking off work early for happy hour, I get thirsty. And never is this character flaw more apparent than during Girl Scout cookie season.

Last week, I began to see the periodic “My daughter started selling Girl Scout cookies today” tweet.  Then I started to see the “I bought my first box of Thin Mints” tweets.  So on Sunday when I went to the grocery store to buy something nutritious for dinner, I was primed. And when the cute nine-year-old Girl Scout approached me as I was leaving the store, I was not hard to convince. I left with two boxes of Thin Mints.

A quick Twitter search for “girl scout cookies” suggests that it’s not just me.  People love these cookies. The Girl Scouts organization knows it, too; from their website you can join a number of social network groups dedicated to these cookies.

Other retailers can learn from the Girl Scout example.  The Girl Scouts have created a high-quality product that is very much in demand.  But you can’t buy these cookies in just any store; you have to know someone who sells them or happen across a group of scouts selling them in a public place like a grocery store. Sometimes they can be hard to find. But still, we persist. We really want those cookies!

Not everyone has such a desirable product, however. The thing the Girl Scouts do well is that they get out there in front of potential customers.  They entice them.  And then people like me talk about my delicious Thin Mints until other people give in and buy their own.

For example, look at this exchange on Twitter yesterday.

hayesdavis: in retrospect, bringing the thin mints into the office was a mistake

connerk: @hayesdavis oh god where can i buy thin mints! bringing them to twitter was just as big a mistake

There’s something very powerful, even viral, about the idea reinforcement that happens in social media. If I read one tweet about Thin Mints, I might think that sounds tasty, but probably not rush right out to find some. But when I start to see several tweets a day about Thin Mints, I start to really want some.  This is why social media are important for retailers. If your products or brand are consistently being talked about in the places where people hang out, people are more likely to remember and desire them.  And right now, those places are less and less traditional media like television and newspapers and more and more social media like Facebook and Twitter.

Not everyone has a product as tasty and sought after as the Thin Mint. But you don’t need to be selling Thin Mints to use social media well.  Social media spplications like Facebook and Twitter may sometimes seem like passing fads or the hangouts of the young and tech-savvy. But retailers who ignore these applications are missing out on an important cultural moment. Not to mention the sales that go along with that moment.

Jenn @ January 27, 2009

3 Comments

  1. Jon Ray January 28, 2009 @ 2:04 am

    I heart thin mints so good! See my post on my post-thin mint depression the other night.

    Courage, confidence & character…no longer…
    http://whoisjonray.com/2009/01/26/courage-confidence-characterno-longer/

  2. Teri January 28, 2009 @ 10:21 am

    I fell in love with Girl Scount cookies back when I SOLD them as a girl and the love affair has been continuing ever since. And, yes, the Thin Mints are a classic! I also love the peanut butter Do-Si-Dos. The one thing the scouts have done so well is create something that is available for only a short time, making it even more “special” when the selling period comes around! Teri Twitter: Teri_B
    http://sandtcreations.etsy.com
    http://www.sandtcreations.com/wordpress

  3. This Week in Tweet-Commerce #2: Now With a Double Extra Hot Soy Latte at CheapTweet Blog April 6, 2009 @ 9:54 pm

    […] a quiet week on the tweet-commerce front. Jenn over at our sister blog, Appozitegeist explains the Thin Mint Effect on Twitter and how retailers and brands can’t afford to ignore it. Mr. Tweet (very handy service, by the […]

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