By Joe Pulizzi published March 23, 2012 Est Read Time: 3 min

Etch A Sketch Wins, Then Loses with Social Media

etch-a-sketch-286x230If you’ve been following the political scene over the past few days, it was a big win for Ohio Arts and their classic product, Etch A Sketch.

Eric Fehrnstrom, one of Mitt Romney’s senior advisors, talked to CNN’s “Starting Point” on Wednesday morning, stating that:

“Everything changes. It’s like Etch A Sketch,” he said. “You can shake it up and we start all over again.”

Etch a Sketch sales are booming from the comments, the stock price has doubled, and every major media outlet continues to talk about the historic product as Mitt Romney tries to clean up a PR mess.  Even Rick Santorum has been toting around the product at all his campaign stops as a reminder of Romney’s “start over” strategy.

So all good for Etch A Sketch, right?  Well, not so much.

Although Ohio Arts just recently sent a box of Etch A Sketch’s to the political candidates as thanks for the support (a great move), I feel they have lost out on a huge opportunity to build their online and social media assets.  Here are some thoughts:

  • Ohio Arts and Etch A Sketch have no Twitter account.  This is not uncommon for many consumer products, but this is a huge lost opportunity to pick up fans and followers on the social network.  Even this Chicago Tribune article states, “Ohio Arts, alas, does not have a Twitter Handle.” It would not be unlikely for Etch a Sketch to pick up tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of followers over the past few days from the publicity. This was an amazing opportunity to build out a media channel…but alas…
  • Where’s the Story? I couldn’t find any article or post from the company directly about the happenings, except for a small formal statement on their Facebook page.  Just imagine the news that could have been told from a series of original blog posts?  Possibly samples of the candidates as an Etch a Sketch in multiple posts.  How many would have shared these posts, sending thousands of inbound links to the site, leaving the opportunity to make more connections with fans and followers?  Done right, Etch A Sketch could continue this story for months after all the buzz is gone.
  • Where’s the News? First off, I couldn’t access the Flash only Etch a Sketch site on my iPad, so off to the PC.  After searching through the site for about five minutes, I finally found the press room at the bottom of the Ohio Arts page. I was expecting, at minimum, a news release and links to coverage about the events of the past few days.  Well, no such luck.  The last news release was from March of 2011 (3 of them), then before that you had to go back to 2008.
  • Where’s the Database? Exposure such as this could have created the opportunity to get a number of direct connections through email updates on the product to fans.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find one. Don’t Etch A Sketch fans want regular updates on great stories from the company?

Look, I love Etch a Sketch and I don’t want to be harsh to this great company in any way, but this is a standard case of a company thinking and acting very traditionally and not seeing the great opportunity to build connections directly with fans, journalists and bloggers through multiple media channels.  If the company was thinking more like a media company, it would be realistic to assume that this awesome event could have translated into long-term asset creation (channel development and inbound links), instead of just a short-term sales spike.

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the bestselling author of seven content marketing books including his latest, Content Inc. He has founded four companies, including the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), and his newest venture, The Tilt. His podcast series, This Old Marketing with Robert Rose, has generated millions of downloads from over 150 countries. He is also the author of The Random Newsletter, delivered to thousands every two weeks. His Foundation, The Orange Effect, delivers speech therapy and technology services to children in 35 states. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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