Girl Scouts USA offer more than cookies to a hungry public    March 13, 2017

In 1912, Juliette Gordon Low, affectionately called Daisy, started a movement. This movement focused on learnings she had gained abroad, in the form of outdoor and educational programs. This became a program of female empowerment and the Girl Scouts became a place where girls could truly participate in life beyond the classroom and home. Girl Scouts served as a community of girls who wanted to change the world, and build lifelong bonds along the way. Many years later, the Girl Scouts organization is synonymous with uniforms and badges, charitable endeavours, and of course, cookies! But in the same way that retailers have had to understand how to engage consumers online, so have the Girl Scouts. Starting in 2015, Girl Scouts USA launched user-generated Facebook, Twitter and Instagram campaigns that created massive upticks in online engagement and product sales.

Managing the ever-changing economy can be a difficult challenge to navigate and nowhere can that be more apparent than when considering the world of sales. The competition for a buyer’s attention is stiff, especially when dealing with the world of sales. Girl Scouts USA (GSUSA) realized that the buying landscape had changed, so they rose to the occasion. In 2015, GSUSA launched the #GirlScoutsGiveBack hashtag, a campaign that encouraged troops to post demonstration of leadership, through everyday activities. The results were incredible – free clinics were established in India, libraries were founded in America, and meals were packaged for hungry children around the world. By encouraging scouts to share their stories, this promoted how Girl Scouts were making the world a better place. But this is not the only example of GSUSA’s social media campaign – #TroopTuesday showcases the success of girls earning badges for their contributions, while the annual cookie campaigns were launched using #cookieboss#onemorebite photo challenge, a cookie recipe contest, and Bling Your Booth Facebook Contest. These contests and online campaigns are inventive and have ultimately been successful at driving customer engagement. In fact, the contests have repeated over the years and consumer engagement continues to rise.

Lessons for Others

What we can learn from the Girl Scouts is simple: in the face of adversity, persist. Membership numbers and cookie sales were in a state of decline, but by invigorating the brand with user-generated content, Girl Scouts USA created a desire for what could be considered a nonessential purchase. The proof is in the numbers: across 2 Facebook accounts (Girl Scout Cookies and GSUSA), nearly 150k fans were gained, 7.1 million interactions occurred (a YOY increase of 37% and 15% respectively), and over 257 million impressions were made (an increase of 74% and 15% respectively). #GirlScoutsGiveBack, #TroopTuesday and #cookieboss saw a combined 43+ million impressions on Facebook and Twitter, while the #onemorebite photo challenge saw 250 entries and nearly 23k visits to the contest app.

But most notably, the average number of cookie boxes sold per girl increased. Cookie sales yielded nearly $800 million in revenue, funds that were then reinvested in local communities. Creative, scalable social media engagement lit a fire for those tasty cookies and reignited, allowing troops and their local communities to benefit. As these campaigns were mainly user-generated, the cost was low, while the yield was high. GSUSA embraced their culture and their primary product and promoted it in an inventive and cost-effective way.

Organization: Girl Scouts of the United States of America
Industry: Non-profit
Name of Organization Contact:

Authored by: Donna Alexander

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