The Bacon Explosion: Wielding Social’s Power

By Valerie Zlotsky

What do you get when you combine 400,000 internet users, a net-savvy marketer, 2 lbs of bacon and 2 lbs of sausage?  Whatever you get, it certainly won’t get you too many kosher friends, that’s for sure.  What it will do however, is provide an incredibly poignant study on the massive power of social networks, as well as illustrate the importance of intelligently harnessing that power.  Oh, and it will also get you a deliriously fatty dish called the Bacon Explosion.

I first read about the Bacon Explosion in an article in the New York Times.  Now usually, a story’s viral life cycle is just beginning when a national publication picks it up.  People read about it, talk about it and spread it around.  In this case however, the article was just a cherry on top of the 5,000 calorie recipe’s viral life.

The Bacon Explosion (its full name is “Bacon Explosion: the BBQ recipe of all recipes”) is a pork lover’s dream-come-true; the recipe calls for making a basket out of bacon, wrapping sausage in that basket, layering cooked bacon in between, for added crunch and then slathering the whole football sized pork-fest with BBQ sauce.  But this outrageous recipe isn’t the story here.  The real story is how the creators of this recipe, two BBQ experts and an internet marketer  trying to promote their website (www.bbqaddicts.com), used social networks to spread the recipe around so much that it became an online sensation.

The Bacon Explosion was originally a challenge for the BBQ experts, sent via a Twitter message.  After creating the recipe, the team posted it on their website and sent out twitter messages to 1,200 of their followers.  They also posted links on various other social networks, like StumbleUpon, a site which attempts to help users navigate towards internet content that they might find interesting.  Within two days of posting the recipe, 27,000 users had visited the site.

“The Bacon Explosion posting has since been viewed about 390,000 times. It first found a following among barbecue fans, but quickly spread to sites run by outdoor enthusiasts, off-roaders and hunters. (Several proposed venison-sausage versions.) It also got mentions on the Web site of Air America, the liberal radio network, and National Review, the conservative magazine.  Jonah Goldberg at NationalReview.com wrote, “There must be a reason one reader after another sends me this every couple hours.”

After gaining so much popularity, the New York Times picked up the story, which I read:
(http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/28/dining/28bacon.html?_r=2&ref=technology).

Now, I’m writing this blog, spreading the word even more.  No doubt, readers of this blog will want to see what this meaty monstrosity looks like and will visit the BBQ site.  When you do visit www.bbqaddicts.com , you’ll note that a link to the recipe is front and center, prominently displayed underneath the NYT logo, thus providing users with a brilliantly smooth user experience.

I should note that the BBQ website relies solely on advertising revenue to operate.  I am sure the 400k+ increase in traffic and nation-wide coverage has given the BBQ team some leverage in ad sales negotiations.  And to think, all of it started with a great recipe idea and a well thought-out social networking campaign.

In a cruel twist of irony, this blog was written by a non-pork consuming Jew.  So, if any brave carnivorous souls out there have tried making the Bacon Explosion, please do share your thoughts right here on our blog!!

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