I’ve been thinking about the power of Facebook viral posts a lot lately. How do you even achieve virality on Facebook and how can you do it in a way that matters?
As a business coach, author, health expert or graphic designer, will sharing a cute cat photo really help your business? Is it in alignment with the message you want to put out there?
You probably already know the answer to that.
The real catalyst for this interest in “going viral” stemmed from one of my Client Pathway clients, Sally and her business partner Justine, whose post for their Adelaide-based business Nutrition for Weight Loss Surgery went viral unexpectedly.
Justine created a Facebook post to share a simple, healthy recipe that would benefit their followers. It consisted of some vegies, cheeses, a little flour and eggs, and baked in mini muffin tins for 15 minutes. Not a lot to it, right?
But since posting it on November 9, 2015, it has now had 3758 comments, 16,600 likes (or happy emoticons, anyway!)… and the kicker – 110,300+ shares.
That post, as I write this, has reached 3,940,740 people.
And it’s still growing four months later…
Why did it go viral?
And, more importantly, did it actually have any impact on their business? Because THAT is the most important question you should be asking when creating content for your Facebook page. Otherwise, what was the point of attracting all those lovely eyeballs?
But first, why did it go viral?
Personally, I see a few things that helped make it go viral.
- It wasn’t created with the intention of going “viral”. It was created to add value to the lives of their followers. As soon as you start focusing on “viral” and take your attention away from “value”, then your chances of success diminish greatly.
- It was simple. It’s something anyone could cook. And, as I mentioned to Sally, it was easy to adapt for yourself. For example, my rather non-healthy version had a bit of bacon in it! It didn’t really matter what was in the fridge, you could play with the recipe and it wasn’t going to fail.
- They asked people to share it. People will do what you ask. If you want likes, ask for them. If you want comments, ask a question. If you want shares… then you ask them to share it. There was also a REASON behind why you should share it – so you can easily access it later. Because, truth be told, I’ve cooked this recipe quite a few times myself now and I’ve always got to scroll back through her Facebook photos to find it.
- With such a strong focus on healthy living today, this is one of those posts that make people look good in front of friends and family. “Oh, did you see that recipe Jo shared on Facebook the other day? Wasn’t that genius!” Suddenly, Jo is a superstar – and she didn’t even create the post. She simply shared it.
- It had a great (mouthwatering) visual with it. If you want to grab the attention of your followers, aim to have a great visual to go along with your post that’s relevant, resonates and stands out.
The most important question for me is:
What was the impact of that on their business?
Because, it’s one thing to go viral, but it’s another thing to actually have it matter. This is where having a system in place to build relationships and nurture people BEYOND that first contact on Facebook is vital.
In this particular story, it could have gone one of two ways:
- Lots of lovely Facebook page likes, new followers, an abundant email list, a No. 1 book on Amazon and clients banging down the weight loss surgery membership virtual door for entry, resulting in an increase in automated monthly income.
- Lots of lovely Facebook page likes and new followers.
I’m happy to say, No. 1 was the fairytale ending here.
This post was beautifully timed for us – and I won’t take any credit for the Facebook post itself, because that was ALL Justine and Sally. It helped build an impressive list of people ready to buy their upcoming ebook, Weight Loss Surgery Meal Plan.
Our overall strategy was to launch the ebook as part of Amazon’s five-day free program and have that lead into the relaunch of the business’ 12-month paid membership program.
Through quick action, we were able to shine a light on the ebook waitlist when the Facebook post went viral, and then launch to that rather large ebook email list which, of course, led to inviting them to join the paid membership.
As Sally put it:
“We’ve gone from having a traffic focus, to traffic not being the issue anymore”.
We suddenly went from basing our launch strategy around how to reach the right number of people, based on my marketing calculator, to how do we improve conversions throughout the entire client pathway?
As you may have heard me say before, you either have a traffic problem or a conversion problem. Sometimes, you have both.
In this case, traffic was no longer our issue.
I believe you’ve got to take the opportunities when they present. You can’t think about it for days or dwell over the best course for the next month – you’ve got to take considered, but fast action.
Quick action in this particular case meant they built such a sizeable list that their book went to No. 1 in Amazon in less than a day.
That ebook launch then resulted in their automated monthly income growing significantly through that increase in membership program customers – all thanks to thinking quickly and strategically.
So what WERE those steps that we put in place:
Step 1: Thankfully we’d already created the waitlist for the ebook before virality hit. The key was aligning the post with the waitlist to grow their email list, prepare people for the launch of the ebook and set them up for success. The beauty of the recipe post was that it perfectly aligned with the ebook, which was… (*drum roll*) a meal plan – including recipes just like the one that went viral.
Step 2: Adding a call to action regularly within the comments of that Facebook post to entice people to get on the waitlist for the ebook. Because of the sheer volume of comments on it, it needed to be added in fairly regularly, because it got lost so quickly.
Step 2: Creating a new Facebook post specifically about the ebook waitlist and pinning it to the top of the page.
Step 3: Creating a Facebook page banner promoting the benefits of getting on the waitlist for the ebook.
Step 4: Setting up a nurturing sequence for those on the waitlist that led them to buying the ebook once it went live on Amazon and then, ultimately, joining the membership site.
Step 5: Using Facebook to promote the ebook once it went live!
Each of these tasks took a minuscule amount of time in the big scheme of things, but had a big impact on Sally and Justine’s business in the short term and now as we move into longer-term strategies.
Every step was worth the effort.
Why are things shared?
It’s a good question. And it’s not always just the things mentioned earlier.
So how can YOU go viral?
Don’t focus on going viral
Sounds counterintuitive, right? But often, when I put a lot of thought into a post for Facebook, it turns out to be a bit of a dud.
But if I quickly open up my trusty WordSwag app on my iPad, pick an image, type in whatever quote is inspiring me at that moment… boom! I get a host of shares.
The message here really is that you don’t get to decide what’s going to go viral. Only your audience can decide that. So only focus on what you CAN control – which is quality, valuable content.
It’s already popular
Here’s an example of a post shared on my page which prompted shares (please note, I have no content that has gone “viral”, so I’m just using recent examples of posts that WERE shared).
The gif image was found on someone else’s page and I clicked “share” to share to mine. It already had a lot of shares on that page. This is a good thing because, according to many, that success can be transferred to you when you share it.
It was also eye catching. Facebook is such a visual medium. We get drawn to things that stand out in our newsfeed. And the fact the gif had “movement” didn’t hurt either.
It’s not quite reached Justine and Sally’s shares, but 15 shares isn’t bad for a page of less than 1100 fans.
Images that stand out and resonate
Speaking of images that stand out, use contrasting colours to Facebook’s blue branding so you don’t blend into the background. This can go for Facebook advertising too (but that’s another topic for another day).
There’s so many elements you can be thinking about with your image. Take this Wordswag image I created, for example. While it’s only had two shares, it reached nearly 3000 people – triple my audience. Which shows the value of an engaged audience, over a large audience.
Why was this one so popular? Remembering, this is a page with only 1100 fans.
I think it’s:
- the perfect blend of image and text.
- The image itself draws the eye because it’s beautiful. And we love beautiful things.
- The “one drop” with a young girl resonates with my audience which is made up primarily of parents.
- And then the “an ocean” is obvious – with the great waves rolling in. If you’re creating a quote, make the image match the text.
In saying that, it doesn’t always work – but aim for it. (For example, a great pic of a girl in a puddle went silly on Instagram but did diddlysquat on Facebook.
Ask for the share
One of the simplest things you can do to lead towards being “shared” is to ask for the share in the first place. Look at the words on the end of Justine’s post. It’s pretty clear, right?
The benefit of doing it is written right there too – and could have been enhanced further with the words “so you can find it easily later”. Psychology tells us that we will do what people want IF they tell us why they want us to do it. So next time you ask for something, add the word “because” at the end of your sentence and see what happens. “I’d love you to share this because…”.
If you’re like me, you may find asking for things difficult. But I challenge you to “ASK” and see where it leads.
Ensure it’s valuable
How are you improving the lives of the people you’re sharing the post with? Why does what you’re sharing MATTER? Make it something people will want to refer back to, so they are prompted to want to share it on their profile or page.
This value needs to make people look good among their friends, family and peers when they share it – as we mentioned before.
How it can be valuable is through:
- solving a problem,
- inspiring or motivating them,
- stirring emotions (more on that in a minute), or
- help them achieve a goal.
Evoke emotion with stories
The more vulnerable you can be online, the more people will resonate with you and your message. Share a story that evokes an emotion and you’re halfway there. That story doesn’t necessarily need to be YOUR story to resonate either. As my good friend and copywriter Emma Grey says: “be a story catcher”.
Even if you don’t “go viral”, what can you post today – using the steps above – that could expand your reach? And how can you make that reach matter to your business?
Remember, it’s one thing to go viral, but you have to have systems in place for it to impact your business in the best way possible. This is where client pathways come in – to attract and convert.
If you would like to know how YOU can create a system that nurtures your ideal clients from discovering who you are on platforms like Facebook, through to investing in you just like what happens for Sally and Justine’s business, then book a time for us to chat to see how I can shine a light on YOUR business growth.