Social Media: The Power of the Individual

Updated: December 14, 2010

While attending the Bees Awards with a group of colleagues in San Francisco a few weeks ago, I was pondering how they could make a goat cheese pizza the size of my thumbnail (complete with tiny slice marks) while admiring the obvious signs on the statues in the Legion of Honor - "this is not a coat rack" next to the Degas or "please do not place your drinks here" next to the Rodin. Before I do like so many of us do - taking refuge in my Smartphone - I met Marcy Mendelson. Marcy is an acclaimed Bay Area denizen and photographer. She is also a passionate cheetah conservationist. Intrigued, I set down my goat cheese pizza on the nearest Faberge‘ egg I could find and engaged in an actual conversation.

For the love of all things cheetah...

Marcy is fascinated by cheetahs (I know, you have heard the "while-attending-an-award-ceremony-I-met-cheetah-girl-story" before, right?) However, Marcy had no outlet for her passions. Not a lot of wild cheetahs in the Bay Area (the rents are just too high!) Through some basic social media searching and looking at profiles, she comes across a book by famed safari guide and conservationist Peter Allison, "Whatever You Do, Don't Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide." Marcy reached out to him through facebook for help and guidance. Within 5 minutes of her message, Peter responds from his laptop in the Brazilian Amazon. In short time, he agrees to strap on his boots and khaki hat to come out of "guide retirement" and lead a safari. With the help of Rebecca Klein of the Cheetah Conservation Botswana, they plan to lead 2 safaris to Namibia and Botswana in August 2011. Groups like Cathaven and the Tsavo Cheetah Project now seek Marcy's help and guidance from photography to press assistance. She continues to help cheetahs - one conversation at a time- from her own group cheetah-watch.com to a photojournalism project with conservation organizations and local farmers to implement predator safe practices.

Where's the bacon... ?

I know the irony from moving from Cheetah Conservation to Bacon Salt, but bear with me. Bacon Salt is the brainchild of two Midwesterns who have a passion for... well, bacon. Like Marcy loves cheetahs, these guys love bacon. So, in their mind, there are not enough bacon flavored foods out there. The idea was simple "what if you could have the same great taste of bacon on ... everything?" Most of us have ideas like this in our 20s and usually starts with the phrase "We should open our own bar and that way we can drink for free." Dave and Justin - our Bacon Salt barons - took the idea to the next level using social media. Using several popular networks, they found similar people around the globe who publicly claim to like bacon and then asked them to test their products. The results astounded everyone - feedback was instantaneous and viral. These committed bacon lovers spread the word to anyone who would listen. They have bacon groupies (Bacontologist, the Bacon Salt Society). You can now buy Bacon Salt and Baconnaise everywhere from Costco, Kroger, Winn Dixie, and Albertsons around the country. They have quit their day jobs and now are building a bacon flavored empire, thanks to a small, but enthusiastic group.

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