Two things it’s really hard to look away from: this octopus that walks on land and our still brand new Retail Social Juice Index. What do they have in common? ThinkGeek (stuff for smart masses), of course!

ThinkGeek, with scores well above 100, has been consistently high on our index since its launch last week. Today, in fact, it’s lucky #13. How is ThinkGeek sustaining such a high level of fan and follower engagement? The brand dedicates many of its posts to content curated from social space and pop culture. By adding its own cheeky commentary to what it finds, ThinkGeek is making its social streams fun and entertaining for its audience.

Take, for instance, the popular YouTube video of that octopus. It had more than 4.6 million views. ThinkGeek shared the video on its Facebook wall with the following note: “Cthulhu is real, and it wants to meet you! It’s totally adorable but you should probably run.” If you don’t know who Cthulhu is, the status probably makes no sense to you, but that may mean you are not part of ThinkGeek’s primary audience. Because ThinkGeek is tuned into what its customers like, however, it knew that a geeky inside joke about a pulp magazine cephalopod would resonate. And it was right!  The post received more than 1,100 likes and 721 shares.

When retailers notice culture trends with strong social energy, riding that momentum can be a nearly free form of marketing. But social engagement isn’t about stunts (though please don’t tell the octopus!). If you’re Ann Taylor or Yankee Candle, your opportunities to benefit from a carrier wave in social media won’t likely come from pulp fiction references. Successful brands recognize content that will thrill and delight its unique following. Every brand has its own octopus.