4 Things I learnt When My Facebook Post Went Viral And Was Seen by 1.6 Million People in 24 hours


Facebook is a fickle friend. One minute I think I’ve got it sussed and then the next the goalposts change and all I can hear is the sound of crickets as I talk to myself. But last week I got slapped over the head (in the nicest possible way!) with a whopper of a lesson in Facebook marketing.


The Day My Facebook Post Went Viral

I was supposed to be working but instead I was easing into my Friday morning with a hot chocolate and a little procrastination. While trawling through my Instagram feed I came across a jaw-dropping-heart-warming image of the ANZAC Day commemoration by 5,000 Poppies Project in Federation Square. The story behind this installation and the visual made such an impact on me that I shared it (and credited it appropriately, of course!) on Instagram and Facebook.


I got on with my day and didn’t think too much about it until I hopped back online at lunchtime and to my absolute disbelief saw that my ‘Poppies’ post had reached 700,000 people and the number of comments and shares where literally appearing before my eyes. It continued to have a life of its own and now has 26,500 likes, 9,300 shares and has been seen by 1,660,900 people.

I’ve never had this sort of response to anything I’ve shared on social media before. Watching it unfold was incredible and humbling. It also taught me a few Facebook marketing lessons that I thought I’d share with you.


Any Old Image Won’t Do

I’m sure you’ve heard it before – successful Facebook marketing starts and ends with a powerful image. The stories that jump out of someone’s news feed are the ones that are told with photos. But what I learnt from my ‘Poppies’ post is that a pretty picture isn’t enough. After all, Facebook users are uploading more than 350 million images a day. To have cut through, the most successful images are the ones that have a strong emotional pull.  They need to connect with the hearts and minds of your readers.

Facebook Marketing Tip: A pretty picture isn’t enough. It has to have a strong emotional pull.

Build Your Tribe Beyond Your Backyard

One of the first people who shared my ‘Poppies’ image was Jo from Quirky Cooking. She has 196k followers which is 39 times more than I do! Jo and I met once in real life and since then have kept in touch by commenting and being active on each others social channels.

Once Jo shared my ‘Poppies’ post, it started to spread like wildfire and I learnt another big Facebook lesson – build a conversation and develop real friendships by connecting with other bloggers and brands on their pages. By building a network (and doing it with a genuine and generous spirit) you extend the reach of your page.

Facebook Marketing Tip: Get beyond your own backyard. Successful Facebook marketing is not just about what you do on your own page. 


Be Relevant. Be Current.

I normally post on Facebook in the evening. It’s when I get the best response and when my followers are online. But, when I saw the 5,000 Poppies image I was literally busting to share it with my readers. I didn’t want to wait until the evening. It was just too beautiful to keep to myself.  So, I went against my previous experience and posted it in the morning.

In a lovely bit of serendipity, it turned out that the timing was actually perfect. I was one of the first people to share an image of this installation. If I had waited until the evening, it would have been old news. ANZAC Day was also a trending topic so this post was current and relevant. It meant that Checks and Spots reached new users who were interested in one of the big topics of conversation on Facebook for that day.

Facebook Marketing Tip: Be opportunistic. There is no one time of day that will always be the right time to post.


Don’t Built Your Business On The Slippery Sands Of Social Media

Watching the ‘perfect storm’ of my post go viral reaffirmed that Facebook marketing is not an exact science. There’s so much that comes down to chance. You can get it right most of the time, but it is impossible to get it right all of the time because ultimately Facebook has the final say about who gets to see what in their news feed.

While my ‘Poppies’ post garnered almost 500 new Facebook followers in one day, it did not translate to increased traffic on Checks and Spots. I thought that this post might pique the interest of new followers to find out more about Checks and Spots (even though it didn’t include a direct link to my website), but in reality people on Facebook like to stay on Facebook.

If anything, my ‘Poppies’ post is a reminder that while it’s easy to get caught up in the latest social media platform, nothing beats email marketing for getting real results – real traffic, real sales. If ever you needed proof of this, a survey by McKinsey & Company found that email is 40 more times effective for marketers than Facebook and Twitter. Plus, email conversion rates are three times higher than social media.

So, don’t make the same blogging mistake I did. When I started Checks and Spots, I focused (almost obsessively) on growing my presence on social media and started my email list a couple of years later as an after thought. There is too much about Facebook marketing that is unpredictable to make it your one and only marketing channel.

Facebook Marketing Tip: Don’t be distracted by ‘new shiny object’ syndrome and put all your effort into the latest social media platform. Smart marketers or bloggers recognise the value and benefits of social AND email marketing and strategically use both.


What Facebook marketing tips have you had success with?


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